On Wednesday 19th December 2018, the Ombudsman and team visited the Regional Office in Makeni and was briefed by the head of office Makeni, Alex Yembeh Mansaray. Mr. Mansaray explained the challenges faced by the office. He noted that the highest complaint received for 2018 was for unpaid benefits. He stated that many institutions do not reply to correspondences from the office. He noted that they have an issue of mobility as they cannot deliver correspondence on time, they cannot enforce the laws as requires, they do not have awareness raising programmes, lack of equipment and furniture, they do not receive pay slips at the end of the month and also do not have internet facility.

Responding, the Ombudsman Leon Jenkins-Johnston said that he has received a fresh mandate from the president and he is determined to develop the office and the issues highlighted would be treated with utmost urgency. He noted that the enforcement clause in the Ombudsman’s act will soon be put to test as he will be issuing warrant of arrest for defaulters. He noted that we should change our attitude towards work and bring life to public institutions. He noted that the conditions of service is under review and that he will meet with the communications officer to develop a communication plan.

The Ombudsman and team paid a courtesy call on the Chairman Bombali District Council John S. Koroma. The Ombudsman Leon Jenkins- Johnston explained the creation, functions and mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman. He noted that the office serves as a watchdog for administrative injustice. He stated that all complaints against MDA’s should be channeled through the Office of the Ombudsman. He noted that the office together with local councils are partners in development as they strive to prevent injustice. He further explained what constitute administrative injustice and asked that all staff in the council be treated fairly. He said that he is looking forward for the council’s cooperation with the office in Makeni.

The Chief Administrator Bombali District Councils stated that the Office of the Ombudsman has been helpful in dealing with issues of benefits. He noted that they have received support from the office in the past and further explain the success stories. He requested that the office should do more in raising awareness on its activities and also to strengthen it to interface with other institutions in Makeni.

Responding the Chairman Bombali District Council, John S. Koroma said that the visit of the Ombudsman and team is a manifestation of confidence that Sierra Leone is moving in the right direction. He noted that the challenges are everywhere in Sierra Leone and the office of the ombudsman is pivotal in addressing some of these challenges. He revealed that they as chairman of District Councils are suffering as they are not paid salary so they do not have benefits and also there is no NASSIT contribution being paid for them. He stated that they as chairmen of Councils would need the intervention of the Ombudsman’s office to solve some of these challenges they as chairmen are faced with. He requested that the Ombudsman’s Office collaborate with the councils when doing awareness raising. He also asked that the Ombudsman’s office hold town hall meeting to elaborated on its mandate and functions.

Also in Makeni, the Ombudsman and team paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Brigade Commander 4th Infantry Brigade Col. A. Bangura. The Ombudsman explained the mandates and functions of the office of the Ombudsman. He noted that the Military plays one of the most important role in the country by protecting the territory of Sierra Leone. He noted that though the military has its own internal grievance mechanism it should ensure that the process is strictly adhered to before a personnel is dismissed.

Responding the Deputy Brigade Commander Col. A. Bangura said that, he was happy to receive the Ombudsman and team at the Brigade. He noted that they have been working with the Office of the Ombudsman and that relationship is still cordial. He expressed the willingness to support the activities of the office. Other military officers made valuable comments towards the activities of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Also in Makeni, the Ombudsman and team paid a courtesy call on Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Kassanga II. PC. Bai Shebora Kassanga II thanked tha Ombudsman and Team for the visit and noted that he is always in touch with the office in Makeni. He noted that the office has been doing a good job and requested that more awareness raising activities should be organized.  

Responding, the Ombudsman Leone Jenkins-Johnston thanked PC Bai Shebora Kassanga II for the good sentiments showered upon the work of the Ombudsman. He noted that the office seeks to work with local authorities when administering justice so that there will be no injustice present when cases are resolved.

The Ombudsman and Team also paid a courtesy call on the Deputy AIG North East, AIG Amara Sesay. The Ombudsman Leon Jenkins-Johnston explained the creation, mandate and function of the Office of the Ombudsman in the country. He noted that he is aware of the Mechanisms put in place by the police i.e CDIID and IPCB, but noted that these instruments are also being monitored by the office as they are also created by an act of parliament. He stressed the need for the Police instruments to be followed before a personnel is dismissed from the force.

Responding the Deputy AIG, AIG Amara Sesay said that they have a cordial working relationship with the Office of the Ombudsman in Makeni. He emphasized the need for awareness raising and the also holding town hall meetings to clearly explain the mandate of the office to stakeholders across the country.

The Ombudsman and Team paid a courtesy call on the Director of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services North- East Region Mrs. Salamatu Koyea Bangura. The Ombudsman Leone Jenkins-Johnston said that the correctional services is a constitutional creation so is the office of the Ombudsman. He noted that the issue incarceration of juvenile and adult is a major concern and notes that thought it is a human right issue, the ombudsman also pays attention to such. He furthered that the Office of the Ombudsman also looks into the activities of institutions created by government or partly by it.

Responding the Director North East Region, Sierra Leone Correctional Services Mrs. Salamatu Koyea Bangura, thanked the Ombudsman for the visit and noted that the correctional services is going through a lot of constraints. She noted that she and her deputy has to construct a meeting place for both inmates and their families to meet with their own money as their subventions do not come on time. She then took the Ombudsman and Team on a Conducted tour or both the Male and Female facilities.