President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has commended the country’s judiciary system during her administration for the level transformation the sector achieved over the years.
The President commended the transformation of the judiciary, noting, “when we embarked upon the journey of political governance of the nation, we recognized a lot of things to be done to enhance the quality of justice, and to improve the delivery of justice through the incentives that are required.”
President Sirleaf spoke on Saturday, September 2, when she dedicated the newly constructed Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Complex in Sanniquellie City, Nimba County.
The new facility houses the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Debt, Traffic, Tax, Revenue and the Magisterial courts – including offices for the county attorney, the public defender, and the city solicitors. There is also accommodation for the petty and grand juries; which include separate sections for male and female jurors.
The President thanked all branches of government for the spirit of coordination that have existed and continues to exist among them for the betterment of the country. She used the occasion to congratulate Nimbaians for playing their role by giving the land for the construction of the facility.
President Sirleaf recollected her participation in the groundbreaking ceremony in November, 2015, and said she did not believe that facility would have been completed in time given the constraint of resources.
She added: “Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices – let me commend you for this. This structure came out of strong determination. In November, 2015, when we broke the ground, I was one of those not convinced that it could be finished in time, because of resources and the time it took to construct building properly.”
Sirleaf pointed out that the government is very pleased about the construction of the complex, because according to her, the quality represents strong commitment, nationalism and patriotism that allows the country to stand shoulder to shoulder in all areas of national endeavor along with many African countries.
She then paid tribute to former Chief Justice, Johnny Lewis for his immense contribution to the judiciary that is being expanded by the sitting Chief Justice, Francis Saye Korkpor.
The President however noted that the absence of the Nimba Legislative Caucus including those seeking political leadership in the county, which she frowned at as disappointing, noting, “they all should have been at the ceremony, because they are the ones who will benefit from the quality of justice that will come out of the court.”
Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor described the complex as an important step toward judicial independence. He said the facility will afford judges, judicial staff and other stakeholders in the rule of law sector the opportunity to work in an improved environment that will enhance their performance. She said it will become easy for judicial actors to coordinate activities and dispense justice; it will provide easy access to justice as contemplated by law.
Chief Justice Korkpor said that the facility will promote the concept of judicial independence, “because it was time for the Judiciary, as an independent branch of government, to be housed in its own facility, which will be conducive for work and free of outside influences.”
Korkpor assured all Liberians and foreign residents within our borders that the rule of law will remain paramount in all proceedings. He emphasized that the judiciary will remain fair and transparent in deciding all cases based on evidence in line with the law.
He used the occasion to urge all aggrieved parties to take their cases to court to be justly treated.
Chief Justice Korkpor added that the judiciary should be left alone so that its rhythm will not be disturbed, especially during this critical time of elections.
He informed the gathering that the compound also houses Criminal Court ‘E,’ which deals strictly with gender-based violence related cases.
He thanked Nimbaians for their cooperation over the years, and indicated that the building previously used to house the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie did not belong to the judiciary, and was not intended as a court facility.
The ceremony was attended by senior government officials and heads of international and national institutions including Justice Minister Frederick Cherue, Nimba County Superintendent Dorr Cooper, the Deputy SRSG for Rule of Law, Wladimar Vrey, the president and members of the Liberia National Bar Association, the president and members, Nimba County Bar Association, judges and citizens.
In a related development, President Sirleaf made a brief stopover en-route to Sanniquellie City at the Ganta Rehab Center to acquaint herself with activities at the facility. She was briefed by Sister Daniella Mgunda, Missionary of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus and James S. Blama, Officer in Charge of the Center.
The President also interacted with several persons at the center including a 16-year old Emmanuel Kollie–a 6th grade student at the Ganta United Methodist School, who used pieces of cartons to build a motorbike; something that impressed the President, who offered to pay the boy’s school fees.
She also visited the campus of the Liberia International Christian College in Ganta to formalize herself with activities of the school. She was received by Dr. James N. Kiamu, president of the college.