The Council of Legal Education of the Sierra Leone Law School has celebrated its 19th Annual Foundation Day on Saturday February 21, 2009 at the Conference Hall of the Leone Preparatory School, Brookfields in Freetown. The well attended occasion was graced by lawyers, Judges and dignitaries including Her Lady the Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone whilst the 19th Foundation Day Lecture was delivered by former Director of Public Prosecution, Nasiru Tejan-Cole Esq. LL.M B.L. Barrister & Solicitor.
|L-R: Hon. Justice Bankole Thompson, Chief Justice Umu Tejan-Jalloh and Nasiru Tejan-Cole Esq.
In his lecture, the learned legal practitioner, Nasiru Tejan-Cole spoke lengthily on the challenges facing the country’s legal system. Some of these challenges, according to him range from the non-qualified police prosecutors to lack of sufficient Magistrates and Judges. The Full Text of the Tejan-Cole Lecture will be published in full in a subsequent edition.
|Students of the Law School pose behind members of the High Table for photo
Earlier, in his Welcome Statement, the Interim Director of the Sierra Leone Law School, Hon. Justice Bankole Thompson said it is indeed refreshing and gratifying to recall, on occasions like this, with justifiable pride, achievements in the institutional growth of the School as it continues its advance towards the attainment of professional excellence in the Law.
He recalled that the School last year certified for ‘Call to the Sierra Leone Bar’ 39 law graduates after they had successfully completed their Bar examination. The demographic profile of these newly qualified Barristers was as follows: 30 Sierra Leoneans, 5 Cameroonians and 4 Gambians.
"The current student population of the School reveals a similar diversity. We have 26 from Sierra Leone, 9 from Cameroon, 2 from The Gambia, and 1 from Nigeria. We take justifiable pride in these achievements. They certainly augur well for the future of the School’s long–term evolutionary development". Hon. Justice Bankole Thompson revealed as he expressed satisfaction with the fact that those newly qualified Barristers were the first group of law graduates who have acquired a sound knowledge base of well-designed practitioner-oriented law courses forming part of a New Curriculum that came into effect a year ago with the aim of providing instructions in the law from a practical perspective.
"It is trite knowledge that the bifurcation of the law into the academic and the practical has always been a key feature of its disciplinary existence and continuing application", he noted, adding that "We in the Law School are mandated to provide our students with a sound knowledge base in the practical aspects of the law after obtaining their law degrees. This is the focus of the School’s new Curriculum".
The Honourable Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh who is also the Chair of the Council of Legal Education in Sierra Leone, in her own Statement, expressed her delight to make a statement at the Nineteenth Foundation Celebrations of the School, in her capacity as the substantive Chief Justice of the Republic and Chair of the Council of Legal Education of Sierra Leone.
She noted that "last year when I made a statement of this nature, I did so in the capacity as Acting Chief Justice and therefore the Acting Chairman of the Council of Legal Education of Sierra Leone".
She expressed happiness that some of the perceived negativities by the general public of the legal profession have somehow eroded by the positive strides being made by the Judiciary.
Chief Justice Tejan-Jalloh pointed out that the theme for this year’s lecture, "The Machinery of Prosecution in Sierra Leone – Professional Reflections", is very apt, as the school has now developed a new curriculum which has a new approach to the lectureship in the school, adding that it is professionally based as distinct from the former academic type tutorship.
"I must once more publicly register my appreciation to the Hon. Justice Bankole Thompson for his support to Council and the very good work he is doing at the School for developing this new curriculum and also for refusing to accept any remuneration as Interim Director of the School," the C.J. said adding "From the reports I have been receiving, he has also built up a very healthy foreign bank reserve and the School finance, which was rather precarious on his assumption of office has now assumed a very firm footing".
She went on to state that "I am happy to note that the School has been steadily progressing since its inception. The School started with a roll of thirty-seven students and to date the School has enrolled three hundred and thirty-three students."
Notwithstanding this development, the Chief Justice pointed out that that the numerical strength is by no means beneficial if there is no corresponding improvement in the behaviour of alumni.
"I have to take judicial notice of the fact that some Graduates of the School have not been comporting themselves in a way that is commensurate with the ethics and dignity required or expected of them", she noted, stressing that "we will not tolerate any behaviour that will compromise the integrity and dignity of the institution".
The Chief Justice also used the forum as an opportunity to advise Barristers who are graduates of the Sierra Leone Law School to comport themselves in a proper manner in and out of the court, adding that they must always pay respect to their senior colleagues at the Bar.
Before ending, Justice Tejan-Jalloh used the occasion to sternly warn students of the Sierra Leone Law School to desist from conducts that are synonymous to compromising the integrity and dignity of the Institution. She said it would appear that pupils of the school have been indulging in un-warranted quarrels and backbiting.
"You must never allow yourselves to be involved in such unseemly behaviour," the Chief Justice stated. She called on the pupils to "copy the examples of good, seasoned lawyers, so that your alma mater will be proud of you".
"Let me warn that as Chairman of Council, I will not hesitate to endorse any resolution that will ensure that only students with proper attitude to their work will continue the course," Chief Justice Umu Tejan-Jalloh warned.
The ceremony, which ended on a high and positive note was ably chaired by Lawyer A.K. Hallowell Esq. Also delivering a luminous statement was the Acting Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Law School Alumni Association, Sally Khartumal Esq.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.