His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has received a report on the findings of the Complaints and Dispute Resolution Committee that was mandated to investigate land disputes in the Western Area from April 2018 to January 2021.
Committee Chairman, Alhaji Mutada Sesay, who was representing the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, thanked the President for the confidence reposed in him and the 9-man committee to serve the country, emphasizing that land issues were not only common in the Western Area these were also happening across the country, posing potential security challenges to the peace and community cohesion.
“After the formation of the Committee, we made a number of site visits, where necessary, to add value to our work. I want to assure you that within the timeframe and resources at our disposal, our work has been thorough, fair, just and empathetic,” he said.
The chairman further stated that the committee’s work had also resulted in the identification of the several challenges that would inform the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning to execute a sound and informed understanding of the problems around land ownership. He also noted that if the recommendations were fully implemented the decisions could prevent future problems in the ministry.
Presenting the report to President Julius Maada Bio, Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Dr. Turad Senesie, said he is happy that the findings of the committee were finally submitted, adding that just after his appointment, he had the task to restore sanity and calmness to the many issues around land ownership in the country. He added that inasmuch as the report revealed that some members of his ministry were the cause of the many problems, the public too did not help the situation.
“Your Excellency, most of these problems are because the country lacks a regulatory framework for land management and ownership. This report will attempt to put the issue to rest. It is now my privilege to present the committee’s report to you,” he concluded.
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio thanked members of the committee and staff of the ministry for what he said was a great task, adding that land disputes had remained a problem to the peace of the nation.
He noted that it was because of the many conflicts around land issues that his government put the committee together and tasked its members to find ways to properly manage land administration in communities.
He recalled that the civil war devastated the country, took away lives, destroyed property and reversed development. He, therefore, encouraged citizens not to allow land disputes and related issues to be another source of conflict in the country. He added he already charged the ministry to institutionalize the system of land acquisition in ways that could put those problems under control.
“I want to thank you all for putting this difficult task together. Cabinet will look at the report and implement the recommendations therein. You have done a great job,” he concluded.
Vice President Inspects Lands Ministry
The Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on Thursday October 7, 2021 made an unannounced inspection tour to the Ministry of Lands Housing and Country Planning.
The visit was meant to ascertain reports of massive progress at the Ministry since Dr. Turad Senesie was appointed Minister months’ ago.
Vice President Dr. Juldeh Jalloh expressed satisfaction over the work being done by the minister and team towards restoring peace, justice and order in a sector that has been marred by violent clashes and complaints of injustice over the years.
He called on the Minister to continue with his professional leadership at the Ministry.
The Vice President was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Finance, Madam Patricia Laverley.
Court Reporters Association Appreciate Chief Justice
The Sierra Leone Court Reporters Association (SLCR) has presented a plaque of honour to the Honourable Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards in appreciation for organizing the first professional training for Court Reporters across the country.
The training was held in June this year at the former Special Court building in Freetown to acquaint the Reporters with Legal Terminologies; the Challenges of Court Reporting, Accessing Court Files and Officials; News gathering and reporting techniques; Civil and Criminal trials and the Divisions of the Court among host of other topics.
According to them, the training has guided and improved on their professional work as journalists.
Presenting the team to the Hon. Chief Justice, the Head of Communications, Judiciary of Sierra Leone, Elkass Sannoh, said the leadership of the association approached him to be given access to the Hon. Chief Justice to commend him for providing capacity training for them as Court Reporters. He said they affirmed that the training provided by the Judiciary through the Judicial and Legal Training Institute has positively impacted their work as journalists.
In his brief statement, the Secretary General of the Association, Salifu Conteh thanked the Chief Justice for the premium his administration has placed on the pivotal role played by journalists in the democratic space.
He said, “We want to thank you for granting us this privilege to be trained. We’ve been yearning for it for quite a long time. We only asked for a day but you gave us two days that was heavily loaded. We enjoyed everything and the facilitators were excellent in their delivery.”
He went on to note that even though the Association had loved to have the Hon. Chief Justice in attendance during the training, his absence didn’t deter the training as the team from the Judicial and Legal Training Institute made the training a huge success.
Handing over the plaque with wonderfully inscripted words, the Vice President of the Association, Aminash Brima commended the Chief Justice for what she referred to as the “freest space” ever to be given to journalists in the Judiciary’s history to access court files and prompt responses to concerns from the public through the Communications Department of the Judiciary.
In his remarks, the Hon. Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards thanked the Association for their kind consideration and gesture. He urged them to work together in the interest of the country and the greater good of all.
“The training that was done was well planned and excellently executed under my watch by the Judicial and Legal Training Institute for the first time. We want you to continue doing your job professionally for the good of this nation,” he admonished.
He said his administration has been centered around transparency and accountability which is why he was interested in providing court reporters the requisite training in furtherance of that goal.
He urged them to always feel free reporting on the proceedings and activities of the court, adding that they should channel any concerns to the Communications Department for immediate action. He assured them of more support and encouraged them to be always professional in reporting the truth.