By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
If the community people in the Number 2 River could have been whispered the way the Sierra Leone Police behave when they are executing their duties, some of them shouldn’t have ventured to even advised them to go through the village headman when they were on a mission to destroy a beautiful house constructed by one Mr. Alpha Fofana who has spent most of his life in foreign land and decided to come back to his route country to carryout investment. Community people say, over thirty years ago, they have never witnessed such terrible situation in this rural community lying deep west of the Western Area Peninsular approximately about 50km from the central heart of the city.
Court bailiffs and a full force of hooligans hired from the Adunkia community backed by the Sierra Leone Police use all what they can to show the community they can do whatever they wish in the community and nothing will come out of it at the end of the day. Their mission was to executive a court order from the Master and Registrar and destroys the house of Mr. Fofana. In an interview with the police, they stated that the police presence at the mission was to secure the bailiff from a command they received from the AIG west while the youths were there to ensure they destroy all properties they met at the compound. The police delegation was headed by most senior police officers including Inspector Sesay, Sergeant Kelly and Sergeant Conteh all from the Adunkia Police station.
Standing by the community while they were doing carrying out their activities, I saw the youths with desperate minds and enthusiasm holding cutlasses, shovels, pickaxes, hammers to name a few which they used to destroy the locally made “pan bodi” house constructed by Mr. Fofana for security of the compound and also use those equipments to remove roof covers of the beautiful house in the community. I counted more than five leafs of zinc removed at the top of the building while the group destroyed the ceiling in the house and as well as glass windows.
While on the mission to destroy houses, a handful of the community came and pleaded with the fierce team not to destroy the house but go through the headman of the community who they wished should have leaded the team to the house owner before they can carry out anything or mission. They couldn’t just do that and feared that the community people might over power them. They started firing tear gas and using sticks to beat any person they caught while also using stones to scare away the youths they suspected or think might attack them. Upon this, prolonged battle, the youths started to throw stones in retaliation while the police also started firing their tear gas canisters. More than ten women including children, women and youths were burnt by the canisters. A girl child feared the police and nearly drowned at the sea while running away from them and the terrible sound of the canisters.
Many innocent people were caught by the police and taken to the Adunkia Police station. Some who went sympathize with their relatives were also whisked to the police cells forcefully without any regard for humanity. This is the common way of the police. They don’t have the patience to investigate and when on a mission to destroy any property, they will not spear anyone caught or seen at the scene. Even this writer had experienced such situation in the past where he was handcuffed innocently for what he never new off just he was seen taking pictures while they were unnecessarily executing their so-called mission.
Some of the police interviewed at the Adunkia Police station noted that they don’t know the reason why they were at the Number 2 River to destroy the house. Speaking on the root causes of the scene, the caretaker for Mr. Fofana’s compound of about 6 tan lots, Mr. Jacob Bell said Mr. Alpha Fofana commonly known as Rasta bought the land more than five years ago to one Abu Mansaray in the community. He said two years ago, a group of people came to him and inform him as caretaker that the land is owned by Madam Philomena Stady Jones who allegedly uses influence of her brother, a barrister at law to carry out this exercise in the community. He said they wanted to survey the land but stopped them with the defense that the one who sold the land, Mr. Mansaray was not with them. He added that because of his resistance the people went away and later came with police who he allegedly use gun to threaten him but they still face resistance from him. He maintained that he was shocked to see two full trucks of police officers at their compound without even identification numbers as legally authorized people to execute a court order. “We don’t believe the police and the bailiff are sent from the court” he said in an interview.
At the scene very far away for fear of not experience the same scene I had few years back, after the mission I saw the police officers loading the zinc and glass windows they removed from the houses.
A security worker for the Senegalese construction company (CSE), Mohamed Bah who was habiting at the Panbodi destroyed by the bailiff and the youths said all his properties has been carted away either by the youths hired to execute their mission. He said his DVD laptop player he is using in this remote locality, his Le3, 000, 000 he reserved to buy a land and other belongings all went away.
To show that the team was throwing stones at the community people, there are many private houses around the compound of Mr. Fofana which glass windows were destroyed during the fracas while trying to drive them away from the scene fearing not to be overpowered by the community.
Like other humanitarians, the community people at the Number 2 River are not against the executing of any bailiff or court order but what they were against was the manner in which the police did. The secretary general for the community, Charles Kamara said the police or the bailiff could have meet the headman of the village or the village authorities who should have taken them to the compound if they were really sent from the court. “The purpose of electing local authorities in communities is for them to go through such leaders when they are carrying out any action or execution in the village locality” he said.
There have been many cases of land grabbing from key government authorities against the village people in Number 2 River. One such case the community people pointed was the one involving one Honorable who the community say lied to them for the purpose of carrying development but later learnt that the honorable is selling the land to other people.