December 16, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi in Makeni
Justice Monfred Sesay yesterday urged Justices of Peace and Commissioners of Oath not to collect money while signing asset deceleration forms for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), adding that such act has over the years contributed to widespread corruption and mismanagement in the country.
Justice Sesay made the plea while admonishing a group of Paramount Chiefs, JPs, Commissioners of Oath and other local authorities at the Makeni District Council hall. He expressed happiness to have attended the one day Town Hall meeting organised by members of the Open Government Initiative, as part of their strategy in strengthening open governance systems, fighting corruption and consolidating justice system at local levels.
He said since the appointment of Chief Justice Abdulai Cham, a lot of reforms have taken place within the judiciary, including the appointment of a Public Relations Officer to interact with members of the public in order to disseminate relevant information about the institution to the public.
The appellate court judge added that the Chief Justice had raised grave concern about nefarious activities by some JPs and Oath Commissioners, adding that most provincial districts now have at least a sitting magistrate to improve on access to justice in the country.
“The main thrust of OGI is to say the truth, which is why I am happy to be here today. It is very disturbing to see that a good number of Commissioners and Justices for Peace have been collecting money for carrying out their constitutional responsibilities. The Chief Justice wants to put a stop to that, especially when they [JPs and Commissioners of Oath] are carrying out their constitutional responsibilities. Before an asset deceleration form is accepted by the ACC, it must be signed by a JP or a Commissioner in that case, therefore some of them have now used that opportunity to make money out of it, thus creating more problems in the fight against corruption,” said Justice Sesay.
“Some people will even sign this document but because the JPs are asking for money, they would prefer to throw away the document instead of bringing those important documents to the ACC. Interestingly, Commissioners are appointed by the Chief Justice while the President appoints JPs on the advice of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, but this has come out as a problem and the Chief Justice wants to put an end to this problem so that our country will be free of corruption, he added.”