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Why We Must Commend The Chief Justice

By Philip Neville

The sad news that hit the General Public over the weekend which has now triggered many debates among the affected people, their relatives, friends and those that are demonstrating interest on the matter is a sad one, but must be welcome by all meaningful and rational Sierra Leoneans.

Many people have heaped blames and continue to blame the Head of the Judiciary and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, probably for taking the action and allowed a Committee to be set-up to unravel the truth or perhaps blaming her for not reacting prior to this time.

It is natural that when an incident of this nature or similar occurs, they always attract debates and blame shifting. Sierra Leone has remained, if one should describe or ascribe any definition to it, probably one of the fitted description could be a “Fire Brigade” State. That is to say, precaution/preventive methods are not perceived, but actions when already the disaster had taken place. What happened at the Sierra Leone Law School is not strange to many practicing Lawyers and even to those who have entered, graduated and called to the Bar recently to be pronounced as Lawyers. So many Chief Justices have come and gone, but in the history of the Law School and the Council of Legal Education since their inceptions to date, none of the past Chief Justice has ever taken such a bold step to investigate petitions from a group of dissatisfied students, authorized the formation of an investigation committee to look into issues raised, and come out with report; only the current Chief Justice, Hon. Humu Tejan Jalloh for which she must be commended for and pat on the back.

It is not that anomalies, exams fraud or pilfering of grades have not been reported or taking place, but sadly; those who were at the hierarchy of power, the decision makers have always turned blind eyes to those serious issues and allowed those who are not qualified to be called Lawyers to parade the court rooms and streets of Freetown with unmerited titles. Like the adage that says all days for the thief, but one day for the owner has now been seen openly.

 

While some of us would agree with some sections of the public, that the action to usher in sanity and expose maladministration at the Law School was done belatedly, however; it is better than to allow it to continue infinitum.

The Law Profession is a very serious one and should be treated by its practitioners with maximum seriousness. It is not like any fly-by-night profession that can be picked up from the trash can or on the way side, but one that goes with credibility and integrity. In the Western World, Law Schools admit Candidates that are credible and with outstanding performance, not those who have connections in the Judiciaries or politics. In the words of John Locke, he says governance is divided into three categories, namely the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary and each should be independent of the other. This is to make it possible for each of the arm to be able to professionally checkmate the excesses of the other. Locke did not say each arm should support the other in corruption or administrative malpractices, nor did he say the Judiciary should depend on the Legislative and Executive for support to make decisive decision. It is independent and must remain so, and also be able to stand the test of time.

Whether the action of the Council of Legal Education is belated or not is not the rationale for the action, but to put the record straight and give to Caesar what belongs to him.

The Chief Justice, Hon. Humu Tejan Jalloh is now blasted by some of her colleagues, especially those who have children that did not see their names published on the recently reviewed list that contained the names of fifteen students. The question they should have asked themselves before castigating her is whether they are not aware that those anomalies had been taking place at the Law School when they were at the Apex of Power and what did they do, or are they of the opinion that success has a “short cut”?. There is no short cut to success; it can be achieved through hard work and sincerity of purpose and not by circumventing its principles, for it would catch up with you one day.

In 2004, there was a case of false admission of a certain student and falsifying of grades. The matter was referred to the Anti Corruption Commission for investigation. How it died at the Commission has remained a mystery to this day. There was another case involving the son of a prominent ex-judge whose son attended a Music School in the United Kingdom and to the shock and surprise of many, his son was admitted at the Law School. When Abdul Tejan Cole pushed to investigate the matter and to charge the son to court for corruption he was prevailed upon to drop the matter as his action would expose members of the family of the Music Graduate. There are many other cases that have been shelved and kept under the carpet because those affected have either direct or indirect relationships with the decision makers and final arbiter,  but this trend should not be allowed to continue as what is good for the goose should be equally good for the gander. God; the creator and omnipotent, is not a promoter of discrimination but mankind is doing so and delighted in keeping it alive.

The step or initiative adopted this time round by the Council of Legal Education to firstly listen to the Complaints of the aggrieved Students that challenged the authenticity of the 2012/2013 results and secondly, the establishment of a Committee to examine the Complaints and come out with findings and recommendations should by all estimation be applauded. It should not be seen or perceived as a witch hunt or a grand plan to destroy the future of those that have been caught. In fact; those that now see themselves as the affected people should equally be blamed for accepting a title/position that they do not merit. They know that they did not perform. They are aware of the glaring facts that some of them did not take the final law exams. They also recognize the fact that they failed but when they were called to the Bar at the Ceremony at Youyi Building in November 2013 they happily went there and be pronounced Lawyers. They received what was not theirs. This is fraud and corruption for which criminal charges could be proffered on them for their behavior. An action that is tantamount to criminality. Receiving what belongs to another person is a crime.

Mr. Davies Cole may have been blamed for what could be referred to as a disaster or calamity that has befallen the Law School. He has been asked to take a temporal exit until such a time when he may be called upon, if that will be. The accusation against Mr. Davies Cole is unfortunate and absurd, because he cannot do it alone what he may have been accused of, but as a quiet and conservative Krio Boy he has decided to keep seal lips and watch what the future holds for him. Some people are saying that he should be referred to the Anti Corruption Commission for further investigation. If that happens, many heads will roll, that is; if Mr. Davies Cole is squeezed and forced to talk or ready to spill the beans. Let him be left alone and don,t be tempted to shake the tree.

The Chief Justice has done a marvelous job, by putting an end to corruption at the Law School, discrimination, falsification and manufacturing of grades for some students and has now ushered in hard work for merit. She should not be bashed, criticized or lashed in her attempt to bring in sanity to the School and the profession.

Over the years and even now, the performance of some Lawyers in court has triggered many questions from litigants whether some of them really went through the rudiments of training and professionalism. Most of them are not discipline; they chop professional fees from their clients and refused to go to court. They represent a client in one court and then prosecute the same client in another court, which is professionally wrong and unethical. The 2011 Practitioners Act, which explains the disciplinary practice and code of conduct for Lawyers, prohibits that, but unfortunately not all litigants are conversant with this Act and so many Lawyers take undue advantage of their ignorance which is a clear case of corruption. With this method of check and counter checking of grades such professional malpractices will one day come to an end. Lawyers are expected to maintain high level of discipline, professionalism and observers of ethical principles that govern their practice. The Chief Justice has just started the mission and must be allowed to conclude it before taking her exit.

Posted by on 9:16 pm. Filed under Breaking News, COMMENTARIES, IN THE COURTROOM, NEWS, VIEWPOINT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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