The Justice system in some parts of the country is in shambles, the police and the court are expected to work simultaneously to punish culprits for their wrong doings, but in Bonthe District Justice is being hampered by the lack of a resident magistrate, prisons and police officers to do the work.
When this press visited the Bonthe Police Station it was empty though not closed with lock and key but no personnel was found at the station at exactly 5:30pm; after waiting for an hour the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in charge of the police station arrived on an XL motor bike with a pint of kerosene.
When this press questioned ASP Koroma about the absence of police personnel at the station he lamented that, the police station lack personnel and only four of them are running the station. The three others he said had been sent out on duty to accompany the visiting PMDC leader Charles Margai and the Minister of Marine resources, so he had to abandon the station to purchase kerosene for the hurricane lamp (lantern).
He catalogued some of their constraints at the Bonthe Island citing the lack of police personnel and disclosing that the four of them have been detailed to cover the five chiefdoms within the Island. Office space is not adequate as they are cramped in an old dilapidated ministry of works building that is visibly a death trap.
He also expressed his frustration over the lack of a police cell to lock up suspects and noted that suspects are sent to the State Prisons adjacent the police station to avoid escapes, “we are finding it very difficult to work within the Island and pray for an immediate transfer to other areas.”
The police station is yet to be constructed despite the allocation of funds to a contractor by the government the project site has been abandoned two years ago and the structure itself is not standard and cannot be used.
When this press visited the construction site, the structure it self was in bad shape though roofed but there were no windows, doors and grass had engulfed the entire structure due to the incomplete work done by the contractor. Efforts to contact the contracting firm proved futile because even the erected sign has been taken away, and no contact address was available to trace them.
The five chiefdoms within the Island are going without a resident magistrate and the two Justices of the Peace (JP) Madam Violet Tucker and Menjie Jengey are operating the magistrate court in Bonthe Island.
The barbed wire surrounded – three structures of the Bonthe State Prisons was refurbished by the Special Court to detain the Late Foday Sankoh and other RUF indictees. The magistrate court is also in bad shape dotted with special court instructions, with broken benches and tables. It is currently being used for social programs like general meetings and parties.
At Mattru Jong police station this press interviewed Inspector S.J Kargbo operations officer for the Bonthe main-land and disclosed that his area of operation is peaceful and calm and that there is no security threat, updates of the situation are reported weekly during their normal inter-agency and security meetings.
Inspector Kargbo intimated that they recently launched the police partnership board with support from the Sierra Leone Police headquarters and the community to foster relationship and partnership collaboratively and ensure that security threats and crimes are reported to the police.
He added that, the Mattru Jong police are only constrained with the lack of a mini state prison for remand and serving of sentences of culprits and transportation to convey prisoners to the Bonthe Island, – noting that those serving remand need food and medical care but none is available at the Mattru Police Station. The magistrate court periodically seats for hearing at Mattru Jong after every two months because Magistrate Stevens was recently transferred to Kono and the only alternative was Magistrate Sesay resident at Moyamba who occasionally visit the magistrate court.
Police personnel and residents of the districts are appealing to government and its partners to ensure that adequate logistics and personnel are sent to the district, while also appealing to the minister of Justice to appoint a resident magistrate for Bonthe District. By Saidu Bah