The Ombudsman, Melron Nicol-Wilson, on Wednesday 8th November, 2017, visited and interacted with the Paramount Chief of Beke Lokor Chiefdom and the heads various government departments in Port Loko.

The purpose of the visits was for the Ombudsman to familiarise himself with the officials, since his      mandate is to resolve complaints against government institutions.

At about 8:00am, the Ombudsman visited the Correctional Centre in Port Loko and sensitised the Officers and Inmates about their rights to make complaints on administrative wrongdoings in the    correctional service and other MDAs.

 The Ombudsman further mentioned to the inmates that, his mandate is different from that of the Legal Aid Board and the Human Rights Commission, in the sense that, he does not provide legal representation for accused persons, nor investigate human rights abuses and violations, generally. The Ombudsman promised that, from time to time, he would be sending personnel to collect complaints from the inmates, in person, and resolve their grievances against the authorities, where possible.

At 10:00am, the Ombudsman met and discussed his mandate with the Deputy Chairman and officials of the Port Loko District Council. The Ombudsman    explained to the council officials that, he visited them in particular, to build a good relationship since the council is the biggest government establishment in the district.

At 11:00 am, the Ombudsman met and discussed with the Senior District Officer (SDO) and the staff of the Port Loko District Office. The staff of the District Office complained to the Ombudsman that, they were not receiving regular salaries. They said that, sometimes they receive their salaries once after six months. Some of the staff also complained that, their salaries are below the minimum wage of Le 500,000. The SDO highlighted some of the challenges his office is facing. In response, the Ombudsman promised to take up their complaints with the appropriate authorities.

At 12:00 pm, the Ombudsman met and sensitised the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Port Loko about his mandate. Members of the DHMT said they were happy that the Ombudsman had visited them. Most of them confessed that, it was their first time of hearing about the Office of the Ombudsman and meeting with an ombudsman.

 At 2:00 pm, the Ombudsman met and discussed at length with the Paramount Chief and the chiefdom authorities of Beke Lokor Chiefdom. The Ombudsman informed the chiefdom authorities, after explaining his mandate to them, of his intention to open an office in Port Loko in January 2018, since the town is now the headquarters of the newly constituted North-West Province.

 The Paramount Chief Adikali Mella II, in his response said, he was very appreciative of the respect the Ombudsman has accorded him, by the courtesy visit. The Chief said, no Ombudsman has ever visited him. The Chief said he was further impressed with the fact that, Mr. Melron Nicol-Wilson is the youngest person to have been appointed to the post of Ombudsman. He said, Nicol-Wilson's appointment is indeed a fulfilment of the President's promised that, he would appoint young people to positions of trust. He admonished the Ombudsman to work hard as he has started off in the right direction, by paying courtesy visits to stakeholders and building up relationships with them. Chief Mella II promised the Ombudsman that, the chiefdom would provide suitable land for the          construction of an Office of the Ombudsman in Port Loko, anytime the request is made.

On Tuesday night, prior to the visits to stakeholders, the Ombudsman sensitised the general public in Port Loko about his mandate, via the Port Loko District ‘Children's Awareness Radio’ from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.