The National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) Court that was inaugurated last Saturday ,January 18, 2020, has commenced sittings on cases relating to the non-compliance of certain institutions to pay social security contributions for their workers.
The first 18 cases are being heard at a special court by Magistrate Mark Ngegba.
Defaulting institutions were charged to court for non-payment of NASSIT contributions for their employees.
Among the cases that were heard on Saturday, five institutions paid in court, two pleaded guilty, while one denied the charges.
Also, some institutions that did not appear for hearing were issued with Bench Warrant.
Prosecuting Counsel for NASSIT, Lawyer Tejan Israel Jah, said the court deals with criminal cases from NASSIT and any other cases that fall within the NASSIT Act, including employer's non-compliance in the registration and payment of monthly contributions for their employees.
He said the Act states that employers must pay to NASSIT 10% of their income and 5% of the worker's salary, totaling 15%.
He said the contributions shall be paid to NASSIT on the 15th of every month, failure which NASSIT has right to criminally sue the employer.
The prosecutor further said that the setting up of the court is to enhance the expeditious trial of NASSIT cases.
Judiciary Public Relations Officer, Moses Lamin Kamara, said sittings will be taking place every Saturday, with the exception of cleaning Saturdays.
He said the proceeding is very peaceful and friendly and that litigants can consult their legal representatives.
He said the court does not use sentencing as the ultimate, but last resort.
"The establishment of the NASSIT court like the ACC is for defaulting institutions to ensure they pay their workers' contributions to the Trust," he said, adding that likewise if NASSIT fails to meet its commitment to its clients, legal actions can be effected in the same court for payment to be effect by NASSIT.
He further said that there were cases where NASSIT prepare payment plans for defaulting institutions.
One of the defense counsels, Lawyer Ibrahim Macfoy, commended the Chief Justice and the Judiciary for establishing the Industrial and Social Security Court to deal with social and security issues between employers and employees.
Lawyer Macfoy said they will assist the Judiciary to decongest offices with case files by adequately representing their clients, although he noted that it is very challenging to come on Saturdays in their normal regalia as during the week.
He said one of their key responsibilities is to mediate between their clients and NASSIT for peaceful settlement, stating that employers are faced with numerous challenges, taking into consideration the economic trend in the country.
These special courts were established through a constitutional Instrument No 4 of 2019, revoking Constitutional Instrument No 1 of 2007 and they were established for speedy trial that involves social security issues.
The two courts will be presided over by Magistrate Hannah Bonnie and Magistrate Mark Ngegba whilst Hon. Justice Sengu Koroma is President and vice president is Hon. Justice Jamestina king
The maters continue on Saturday January 25, 2020.