The protracted land dispute over 152 acres of land at Grafton Village, between Pa Santigie Bangura and the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, has resulted to both parties threatening each other with court action.
Several land owners at Grafton are at each others throat; as Police personnel equipped with batons, sticks and handcuffs in the company of hired youths residing within the village has intensified their patrol to protect the 152 acres of land from alleged land grabbers who had failed to compromise with Pa Santigie Bangura, with eight (8) people already arrested on the land and charged to court.
Some of the residents at Grafton have been leaving in constant fear and panic as harassment, intimidation, beatings, eviction and damage of properties continue, followed by subsequent arrest of any one attempting to utilize the 152 acres of land that was ruled in favour of Pa Santigie Bangura by the High Court of Sierra Leone.
Our reporter caught up with the Deputy Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Daniel Gaima at his Youyi Building Office in Freetown; to enquire about the disputed 152 acres of land at Grafton. The Minister referred to Pa Santigie Bangura as “a nuisance to the Grafton Community and also blamed him for the chaos and damage of properties that occurred recently at Grafton Village, as no body owns 152 acres of land in Freetown”.
He added that the Lands Ministry is currently putting together the necessary documents to institute legal action against Pa Santigie Bangura for grabbing Government land which was intended for Defense purposes by Colonial Masters in July 1943, adding that maps and gazettes have all been gathered to challenge the legality of Pa Santigie Bangura.
Our reporter also caught up with Pa Santigie Bangura to get his own side of the story; as to how he acquired the 152 acres of land? His response was that, the land in question was bought from the original landowner, with all documents in his possession. He further said that the Former Minister of Lands Bobson Sesay also took him to court for the same land but maintained that all the court rulings had been ruled in his favour.
Pa Santigie further explained that “I have legitimate right to do anything on the land as the court had given me the mandate and power to evict any encroacher through court bailiffs and officers from the Sierra Leone Police” he stressed. He also denied giving any order for the beating and molestation of other land owners at Grafton, but confirmed to our reporter giving others to the Police and court bailiffs to evict all those who had failed to comply with him.
He expressed determination to challenge the Lands Ministry in court.
By Saidu Bah