Local Court Chairman in Sierra Leone Caught Soliciting Bribe

A Local Court Chairman of Court No. 1 in Lokomasama in the Port Loko District, in Sierra Leone has been caught soliciting a bribe from a woman.

A man identified as Mr. Lamin who is the Chairman of the court in Port Loko is said to have asked for a two million leones bribe from a woman called Yabom Posseh Sankoh, who had a case in the court.

Sankoh said she was asked by Lamin to pay 2 Million Leones so that judgment would be given in her favor in a land dispute she brought to the court.

She added that the alleged incident took place in April 2021 in the presence of her family members, and that was after informing them that judgment will be delivered the following day. 

However, she added that when she negotiated and paid the money when the judgment was read it was against her.

She said that she was asked later by the defendant to pay another le 500,000 to appeal the court’s judgment.

The matter was brought to the Legal Aid Board after it was being referred to Regional Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Office in Port Loko.

The ACC Regional Office in Port Loko referred the matter to the Board after it was reviewed by the Commission’s Complaint Review Committee, which decided it is a matter for the Legal Aid Board.

“The matter has been reviewed by the Commission’s Complaint Review Committee and believes it is a matter for your office to look into and address accordingly. It is therefore referred to you for necessary action,” the letter notes. 

The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles described the referral as a vote of confidence on the Board.

She said the Board will treat the matter with utmost seriousness to send a loud and clear message to Administrators of Local and Informal Courts that the trading of justice for money will not be tolerated.

“This is why I am assigning a senior staff, the Regional Programme Officer for the North, Mohamed Jalloh to lead the Legal Aid Board that will be hearing the matter,” she said.

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said that the Board has received many complaints of administrators of Local and Traditional Courts demanding bribes from people, very poor people, using their courts on the pretext of delivering justice in their favor.

“Some Local Court Chairman demand money far in excesses of fines prescribed in the Local Court Act 2011,” she said.

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