Agric. Minister Visits School of Agriculture & Food Sciences

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Agriculture Minister flanked by Dean’s SAFS and HOD Animal science

The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Abu Bakar Karim on Monday 6th September 2021 concluded a one-day working visit to the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Njala University.

The Minister was received by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Njala campus, Professor Bashiru Mohamed Koroma, and the Dean of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Professor Alieu Mohamed Bah, and taken on a conducted tour of the teaching, learning, and research facilities of the school which includes the cattle ranch, laboratories, classrooms, and research centers.

He later met the leadership of the school in the afternoon and held consultations on the need for collaboration in the drive to change the trajectory in the agricultural sector.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Njala Campus, Professor Koroma welcomed the Minister to Njala University on behalf of the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Andrew Baimba, and noted that the School of Agriculture badly needs infrastructural development to match with its current expansion. He went further to state that on behalf of the Administration he is appointing the Minister to serve as a goodwill Ambassador for this Infrastructural expansion project of the school.

Professor Koroma also took the opportunity to intimate the Minister about the current restructuring process of the University and the desire of the Administration to create the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Professor Bah, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences in his opening remarks told the Minister and his delegation that he was overwhelmed to have a sitting Minister of Agriculture in the Government of Sierra Leone to visit the school during his tenure as Dean of the School.

He intimated to the Minister that the School has the required experts to support the Government Second Agricultural Flagship Project and noted that the school over the years has grown exponentially and correspondingly needs an infrastructure expansion to be able to accommodate the over one thousand students at the School.

Professor Bah called on the Minister to support the effective functioning of the various laboratories at the School whose equipment according to him was bought by the IAEA. The Laboratories according to him are challenged with inadequate electricity, water, and proper storage facilities.

Professor Patrick Sawyerr, Head of Department, Soil Science and Chairman of the Policy and Governing Council of the School presented a Concept paper on behalf of the School to the Minister of Agriculture.

He started by giving a background to the establishment of Njala University and the School of Agriculture and pointed out the various achievements of the school over the years in the areas of teaching; research and community service.

The veteran Soil Scientist informed the Minister that the School of Agriculture was left out in the preparation and project implementation stages of major agricultural projects coming into the country over the years and this according to him had left the staff of the School without projects to manage and encouraged the Minister to start considering the involving of staff of the school towards that end.

He also pointed out that that the School of Agriculture is inundated with very low quality of students from the various secondary schools across the country and this has continued to impact the quality of graduates the school produces annually. Professor Sawyerr called on Minister Karim to engage his counterpart in the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education to address this anomaly.

Professor Sawyerr concluded by calling on the Ministry to sign an MOU with the School of Agriculture to strengthen collaboration in the areas of mechanizing agriculture, policy formulation amongst several others.

The Minister of Agriculture while responding noted that Agriculture is a catalyst in President Bio’s Human Capital Development Agenda and hence was critical to the success of the Educational and Health sector pillars of the Human Capital Agenda.

He acknowledged the fact that previous administrations had excluded the Agricultural institutions in the country in their respective national agriculture Agenda programs which according to him are responsible for the current state of affairs.

Minister Karim lauded the vision of the leadership of the school for inviting him to conduct an assessment visit to see for himself first-hand the challenges of the school.

He disclosed the appointment of a Second Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture was informed by the desire of the Government to have a specific individual to directly deal with all the agricultural institutions in the country with a view to making them more responsive.

All of this happened at the Njala University, on 7th September 2021-

Kamarainba freed on  Bail

By Feima Sesay

Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray , Leader of the Alliance Democratic party has on Tuesday 7 September been released on 100 million bail by a high Court in Freetown .

Mansaray , had spent over a year in detention at the Male Correctional facility in Freetown on allegations penetrating a 13 year old girl.

The Judge, Justice S.O Taylor granted both Mansaray his co accused, Marion Arouni were granted bail after several applications made by defense lawyers; Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai and Lawyer J. M Jengo on grounds that the health condition of the first accused, Mansaray had been deterioting and that he needed urgent medical attention.

His  lawyer, Abdulai  had also argued that  he had received a medical report of Kamarainba from  the Correctional Center to suffice his grounds a need to grant his client bail .

He  said they had been constrained in getting their witnesses most of who he said had been  coming from up the provinces but assured the court that they would be available on the next adjourned date.

 He cited paper he drafted which he said was an order  to that effect dated 27 September 2020 regarding the ruined health situation of his client .

He said that they had put all the conditions before the court including section 79 (2) of the CPA of 1965, adding that  his client is not just an ordinary person but a  politician that had built a name for himself .

Whiles renewing his application for bail on behalf of second accused Marion Arouni,  Lawyer Jengo also his client is a mother of two child who depend  on her and pleaded with the court on the basis  to grant her bail. his application for bail.

State prosecution lawyer Umu Sumaray her reply said bail is at the discretion of  the learned Judge, but however  argued that the defence did not proceed with the case as expected  due to several  lapses .

The Bail  conditions were  in the sum of 100 million Leones  and 2 sureties in like sum and one of them should be a property owner   resident in Western area and proof of identity, noting further that the accused should report three times in a week  to the court and  should also signed a registered and surrender all his travel documents to the court until the matter comes to an end.

Marion Arouni was also granted similar bail conditions .

The Matter was adjourned to the 14th  September 2021.

LEGAL LINK Concerned over Legal Education Amendment Act 2021

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Worrying concerns over a Bill entitled, “The COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT 2021” and the continued imposition of illegal entrance requirements at the Sierra Leone Law School

Christian Lawyers Centre (hereinafter referred to as LEGAL LINK) has received a number of complaints from legal practitioners, law students, law graduates and members of the general public over a proposed Bill widely circulated on social media, purporting to introduce two new law schools as well as the continued illegal imposition of entrance requirements on law graduates applying at the Sierra Leone Law School that is not supported by law.

But before delving into the facts and merits of these complaints, let me seize this opportunity to openly commend your leadership over the plethora of reforms and innovations currently being introduced within the judiciary of the Republic Sierra Leone. 

We note in particular the separation of the inferior courts from the Superior Courts of Judicature, the infrastructural facelift, establishment of specialized courts, beautification of the court environment, restoration of sanity around the precincts of the courts, employment of more magistrates, judges and staff as well as improving access to justice in remote areas of the country.

While the task of reforming the judiciary may still be far from being accomplished, we however make bold to say that these key reforms you have introduced in your tenure are not only timely but are certainly making significant impacts within the justice system in the republic of Sierra Leone. Kudos to you.

But be that as it may however, permit me my lord and Chairman to urgently bring to your attention the twin issues mentioned above for the kind intervention of the Council of Legal Education.

No doubt, by virtue of the Council of Legal Education Act 1989, the Council of Legal Education serves as the highest decision-making organ of the Sierra Leone Law School.

It is against this backdrop that we have considered it fit and appropriate to address these concerns to you for the attention of Council.

Regarding the issue of the proposed draft bill that has been widely circulated on social media, we note that the Bill seeks to amend the Council of Legal Education Act 1989 to provide, amongst other things, for “representation of Njala University and the University of Makeni in the Council of Legal Education, and to provide for the establishment of Njala University Law School and the University of Makeni Law School”.

As an organization that promotes human rights, the rule of law, accountability and due process in Sierra Leone, we are motivated to ask some fundamental questions:

Was this proposed Bill an endorsement of the Council of Legal Education? To what extent was the legal community in Sierra Leone consulted before the drafting and circulation of the proposed Bill? What is the true rational and compelling justification for proposing such a Bill that seeks to regionalize Law schools in the country?

My lord and Chairman, the arguments of LEGAL LINK against the proposed bill are premised on the above rhetorical questions.

First, we are strongly of the opinion that such a Bill was never an endorsement of the Council of Legal Education in the first place. You will agree with us Mr Chairman that the governing and highest decision-making body of the Sierra Leone Law School is Council. Without the expressed approval of this Bill by that Council, it will be a travesty to proceed with such amendment to say the least.

Secondly, it is now clear as crystal that the legal community was never consulted over this proposed Bill that is to be enacted. The Public Notice of the Sierra Leone Bar Association dated 16th August 2021 clearly reveals this. 

This nocturnal act in itself underscores the insincerity and unaccountability surrounding the proposed Bill.

We submit that members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association have a moral and legal justification to be consulted on such an issue which has to do particularly with their profession and survival. It is inconceivable and preposterous therefore to learn that they were left out on such an important matter. This Bill must therefore be strongly resisted and disdained in our society.

Thirdly and most important of all, we are of the strongest conviction that creating  new law schools in the South and the North of the country will inadvertently embolden regional and ethnocentric tensions in the legal profession in Sierra Leone.

And you will certainly agree with us my lord and Chairman that regionalism and ethnic divide has been a major factor responsible for our backwardness as a nation today.

We don’t want such to be institutionalized in the legal profession and continue to fester in the future unabated. It is highly likely that if the South and North are allowed to have distinct law schools, the East and North-West will also be justified to call for theirs in the future. And this situation will certainly not be good for our noble legal profession in the country!

It is important to further emphasize that Sierra Leone is not a federal state but a unitary one and it is for good reasons why Parliament passed the 1989 Council of Legal Education Act to create for a unified SIERRA LEONE LAW SCHOOL.

Amongst other things, it wanted to suppress regionalization, parochial and ethnocentric institutionalization within the Legal profession in Sierra Leone. Usually, the creation of plurality of law schools is more akin to federal systems of government than unitary ones.

In place of this draconian bill, we strongly recommend to the Council of Legal Education for either an introduction of new Sierra Leone Law school campuses in the provinces where practicable; or embark on a two shift system at the Sierra Leone Law School in Freetown so as to cater for the growing number of law students graduating every year from within and outside of Sierra Leone applying into the Sierra Leone Law school.

This step, we strongly believe, would be a more measured response in relation to addressing the influx problem at the Sierra Leone Law School rather than creating new Law schools in the provinces, further entrenching regional stereotypes.

In another development, we note also that the Sierra Leone Law School has introduced new additional subject requirements to form part of its entrance requirements into the Sierra Leone Law School.

These additional subject requirements are Equity & Trusts, Law of Contract, Law of Tort, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and Land Law.

For a student to now be admitted, he or she must be a holder of at least a third-class honours degree in law from a recognized university approved by the Council of Legal Education and must have passed the above additional subjects.

Strikingly, a cursory look at the Council of Legal Education Act 1989 which governs the Law school reveals that no subject requirement is provided for admission into the Sierra Leone Law School.

The question that comes to mind is: Why should Sierra Leone Law School amend the Council of Legal Education Act without reference to Parliament? Why should new subject requirements be added without Parliamentary approval? Why should the administrators of the Law School continue to deprived students from access to legal education using illegally imposed requirements?

Rightly so, the administration of the Sierra Leone Law School tried twice to seek an amendment of the Council of Legal Education Act 1989 through Statutory Instruments for additional subject requirements to be approved by Parliament.

But this proved unsuccessful as Parliament refused such statutory instruments for want of procedure and irregularities.

With the two attempts to amend the law proving unsuccessful, the administration of Law School decided to now take the law into their own hands by going ahead with the implementation of the additional subject requirements notwithstanding. This behaviour we submit is clearly unacceptable in a democratic society that prides on the rule of law and due process.

No doubt, you will agree with me my lord and Chairman, that it is Parliament that has the sole responsibility to amend the laws of the land. This is so because they were the maker of such laws in the first place.

But in this exceptional instance, it may appear as though the administrators of the Sierra Leone Law School have transformed themselves into a law making entity, usurping the authority of Parliament.

We therefore call on your urgent intervention to estop this Parliamentary usurpation and ensure that a statutory instrument be laid correctly by the Council before parliament seeking the approval of the additional subject requirements to form part of the admission requirements into the Sierra Leone Law School.

A continued denial of students right to access legal education by the administrators of the Sierra Leone Law School through illegally imposed requirements that are not supported by law amounts to a blatant violation of the right to education as enshrined under many of the international and regional treaties that Sierra Leone has signed and ratified.

While we anticipate the urgent addressing of these concerns by the Council of Legal Education, please accept the assurances of our highest regards

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