Ministers implicated in Massive Land Grabbing …Causes Fracas between Police and Soldiers

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo

A temporal zinc structure that was allegedly destroyed by military officers  

The insatiable desire by certain government ministers for land acquisition has degenerated into a clash between police officers at Lumley and a squad of soldiers allegedly members of the presidential guards. 

It was on Thursday June 11, a meeting convened by the Lumley Police Division with stakeholders in the Peninsula area on Covid-19 measures and sensitization, was rudely disrupted by a squad of soldiers who stormed the Lumley Police Station to forcefully free a detained offender who was under custody. According to Police sources, a parcel of land belonging to a peaceful citizen was invaded by some thugs allegedly acting on the instructions of Deputy Agriculture Minister 2 Dr. Karim and Minister of Lands Dr. Dennis Sandi. The invaders were there to scare the rightful owners and caretakers away and start clearing the place for construction. A standoff ensued between the caretakers and the thugs but the latter overcame the former, forcing them to flee for their lives. Lumley Police got wind of the incident and immediately went there and arrested one of the thugs and brought him to the station. 

It was while the thug was in detention that a squad of soldiers, apparently influenced by highly placed government officials stormed the Lumley Police Station and tried to forcibly take away the detainee. The Police stood their ground and onlookers around the Lumley area joined in, causing serious commotion there.

Sources say, an official from State House came to the scene and restored sanity. The soldiers left without the detainee whom they wanted to forcibly free.

It would be recalled that such ugly and indecent land grabbing frenzy gripped former officials of the past APC government, causing them to incur the wrath of the public and eventually led to their defeat in the 2018 elections. The same has started surfacing under the current dispensation.

In a related issue, The office of the Chief of Defense Staff responded to the call of a local organization, LEAGUE OF DEMOCRACY ADVOCATES (LODA), to thoroughly investigate illegal deployments of military officers on a grabbed land along the Number 2 and Tokeh Villages. The Office of Chief of Defense Staff has concluded its investigation and have realized that the said soldiers were deployed illegally, which led to the decision of having them withdrawn.

According to section 165 subsection 2 of 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, the unlawful presence and deployment of the military personnel is a constitutional breach and betrayal of public trust committed by that military personnel to deliberately ignore their primary functions and responsibilities thus; to preserve the safety and territorial integrity of the state; to participate in its development; to safeguard the people’s achievements, and to protects the constitution.

The unlawful deployment and occupation by the military personnel on the said private land constituted human rights violation according to section 21, which deals with Protection from Deprivation of Property. This is why the Office of the CDS acted wisely to get his men out of the said property, a Defense Ministry Official remarked.

What has however shocked the local authorities is the presence of a group of armed men who could not be identified as military personnel. “Their presence on our property is threatening our peace. They are harassing us on a daily basis and would not allow us to pass through the grabbed land,” a Senior Citizen at Tokeh Village said and added that the deployed armed men are presenting themselves as local militia (Kamajors), authorized by land grabbers to secure the property until it is shared amongst some authorities in high places.

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