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Parliament screens New Chief Justice, others

January 12, 2016 By Jariatu S. Bangura

Members of the Appointment and Public Service Committee in Parliament yesterday interviewed the newly appointed Chief Justice, Justice Hamid Abdulai Cham and the designate Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Ministers of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, plus nominee High Court Judges and board members.

Chairman of the Committee and Majority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim R. Bundu, told the appointees they should regard their nomination with all seriousness as out of the six million population they have been nominated to serve the country, adding that they would be interviewed based on information provided them and members of the public.

Answering to questions from members, Justice Cham said his nomination to serve as Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone was another opportunity to serve his country despite numerous challenges faced by the judiciary.

“It all leads to hard work and dedication and that of good luck that I was nominated for the position [of Chief Justice], and as I promised you the last time I was here for approval as Appeal and High Court Judge to make sure that cases are being sat on a daily basis, I will continue to do even more, though there are lots of cases on my desk to be resolved as I speak,” he told the committee. “The laws that are guiding us are very old, therefore there is need to revisit them in order to pursue criminal cases in the country, and I do hope that the Criminal Procedure Act will be looked into as it is now in Parliament waiting for approval.”

Justice Cham promised lawmakers that he would execute his duty in accordance with the oath of office sworn by the Chief Justice, as mandated by the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 if approved by Parliament.

He acknowledged that the judiciary was saddled by loads of challenges, including a large caseload of 150 matters that are yet to be determined in the High Court. “If we have your support, we will be able to do it within the fastest possible time,” he said and lamented the dearth of funds to support ustice administration in the country.

Minster designate for Agriculture, Prof. Monty Jones, noted that much needed to be introduced in his ministry to enable the country to be self-sufficient in its staple food – rice. He said that the key issue was to increase agricultural productivity, labour productivity of machinery, and land productivity to increase output across the country, adding that fertilisers would be provided to framers nationwide.

Prof. Jones, who until recently was an adviser at State House, said under his leadership the Ministry of Agriculture would enhance commercial agriculture in the country in a bid to increase income generation among farmers, and that one of his aims was to ensure that the Agricultural Business Centres are functional.

The other nominees interviewed by the committee include Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay and Hon. Isata Kabia, Ministers of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Patrick Saidu Conteh, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Magistrates Mohamed Alhaji Momoh-Jah Steven and Komba Kamanda, judges of the High Court of Sierra Leone; and Mr. Idrissa Barrie, board member, Guma Valley Water Company.