Visit of the Ombudsman’s Office to the Office of National Security (ONS).

Freetown – Wednesday – 20th March 2024

On Wednesday, 20th March 2024, the Office of The Ombudsman made a familiarization visit to the management and staff of the Office of National Security (ONS) at the ONS Conference Room Tower Hill, Freetown.

The National Security Coordinator (NSCoord), Mr. Abdulai Caulker, who chaired the meeting, requested attendees to observe individual silence in prayers and welcomed the visitors from the Ombudsman’s office, including the Ombudsman himself, Mr. Tejan Ahmed Isreal Jah Esq. for taking their time to visit the ONS. The opening courtesies included self-introductions by ONS staff and guests from the Ombudsman’s office.

The Ombudsman, leading the team, highlighted two major factors that informed his team’s visit to the ONS and stated the following:

  • To create familiarity with the institution (ONS) and raise awareness about the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman. He further stated that as part of his leadership strategy, there is a need for his team to interface and have direct engagements with all institutions to collaborate in solving injustices within the public sector, be it from Management, staff, or the public, in order to help them achieve their mandate.
  • Citing Section 146 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991 which makes provision for the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman, gives the office the mandate to investigate complaints from the public sector or heads of institutions on the issue of injustice. The Ombudsman furthered that the law also permits his institution to negotiate, mediate, and do reconciliations within Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including educational institutions funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Security Sector, District and Local Councils, public units, and schools. He added that as an institution, they are mainly focused on maladministration and injustices that are likely to occur within organizations. He identified issues such as inefficiency, bias, harshness, unfair treatment, discrimination, wrong use or misuse of office, being in the same position for more than ten years, delays in the payment of terminal benefits, amongst others. On injustices, the Ombudsman identified vices such as hardship, grievances, inequitable treatment as examples. As a redressing institution and based on its mandate, the Ombudsman’s office is closely working with the Government of Sierra Leone’s manifesto which talks about revamping the public sector and improving the public service. The Ombudsman informed members that the services being provided by his institution are free of charge and always open to the public.

Regarding the issues of actions and complaints, the Ombudsman’s office is ensuring that measures and modalities are in place for addressing such issues by negotiations and stated that the general public also reserves the right to file a complaint of an institution on issues worthy of complaint.

In his response, the NSCoord thanked the Ombudsman for educating ONS staff about the mandate of the Office and informed that the ONS falls under the Public Sector category based on the Public Service Act. However, the NSCoord briefed that the institution has its own way of operating and dealing with matters compared to other public institutions. He added that whatever the ONS does has its ramifications on the Security Sector, and that is the reason why much is not being disclosed to the public, except on the need to know basis.

The NSCoord also observed that the general public, management, and staff in any given institution need to be educated on their rights and responsibilities and that all staff need to be productive to ensure one’s institution achieves its goals. He informed the Ombudsman that as a policy, the ONS does not advertise job vacancies; rather, it does talent spotting of credible citizens for recruitment.

Concluding, the NSCoord informed the Ombudsman and team that the ONS is one of the institutions in Sierra Leone that is being lauded and prides itself on issues of integrity and professionalism as encapsulated in the institution’s motto “Where Truth Leads Us.” The NSCoord assured the Ombudsman that at the ONS, integrity has and will always be the key focus. The office, he stated, has a well-structured management and is now working on the auxiliary staff for better performance and documentation in order for the administration to keep track of personnel performance.

The NSCoord also informed the guests that sometimes, owing to the nature of the job, hard decisions are taken against personnel, but that this only happens if such personnel fall short of the ethics and ethos of the institutions and are subjected to a structured internal investigation normally conducted by the requisite disciplinary committee.

The NSCoord also informed the guests that because his staff deal with classified information, they are obligated to remain focused, committed, and dedicated to their work at all times. He highlighted some of the internal committees that address staff issues such as the Welfare, Integrity and Ethics, Recruitment, and Promotions Committees, amongst others.

In his contribution, the Chief of Staff, ONS, Mr. Langumba Keili, also joined the NSCoord’s in thanking the Office of the Ombudsman for the visit to the ONS and for enlightening the office of the institution’s mandate. He assured them that the doors of ONS are always opened and ready to work with the Office of the Ombudsman to put mechanisms in place for improved administration.

End.

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