From Awareness Times Newspaper in
In Sierra Leone, State House Official Accused of Land Grabbing
By Aruna Turay
Nov 1, 2010, 12:36
The Director of Open Government Initiative (OGI) attached to State House, Madam Kadijatu Sesay has been accused of grabbing a plot of land situated at New Site, Hill Station in Freetown said to belong to the son of one Mrs. Aminata Conteh.
According to Kerifala Conteh, the son of Aminata Conteh, on the 20th October 2010, Mrs. Kadijatu Sesay hired and incited about fifteen (15) thugs to demolish a make shift structure (Pan Body) erected by her and carted away building materials valued at Nine million Leones (Le 9,000,000.00). Kerifala said when the incident occurred, his site workers made a formal report to the Congo Cross Police Division where they were given three police officers to assess the damage at the site. He informed that it was at the site that Madam Khadijatu Sesay was told to report herself to the police and forward all supporting documents for the plot.
“But she was vehement and threatened police with a complimentary card of the Minister of Lands, Dr. Dennis Sandy and claimed that he knew of the matter,” Conteh said, adding that the APC woman lied to the police that the minister had once invited both of them.
“Mrs. Sesay said for that she too would not listen to the police,” Conteh continued his allegations, saying the lady then started bragging of her connections within the APC.
Kerifala Conteh disclosed that the land has been assigned to his mum since 1996 and the family had taken the pains to develop it and to pay their annual lease fees.
When contacted through her mobile phone on Saturday 30th October 2010 to comment on the allegations, Madam Kadijatu Sesay wasted no time to debunk, saying that she was too responsible a citizen to be engaged in grabbing another person’s land. She explained that some few years ago she applied to the Ministry of Lands for a lease of a plot of land and that the ministry by then made her several offers including the land in question located at Hill Station which she chose. She said following the Government’s moratorium on the dealing of state lands, she had by then traveled out of the country but while out of the country, she was informed that the plot is becoming bushy and she made plans to clean it of shrubs. Upon her return, she went on, she cleared the plot and erected a made shift structure on it and that it was only then that Mrs. Aminata Conteh’s family showed up and claimed ownership of the plot.
However, the Crime Officer for the Congo Cross Police Division Sergeant Sankoh confirmed to this reporter that the matter was reported to his Division and that he wasted no time in setting up an investigation team to look into the said plot of land. He said upon arrival of the team after their investigation, he ordered the two parties to forward photocopies of their original documents claiming ownership of the plot in question, adding that whilst Kerifala Conteh promptly produced his own legitimate documents and receipts dating as far back as 1996 for the disputed plot, “the lady up at State House office has failed to produce any documents”.
“It was only at one point that she brought with her a senior official from the Ministry of Lands to verbally attest that she owns the plot of land,” he informed.
All attempts to get the side of the Lands minister proved futile as to press time. However, we were given a copy of a handwritten note by the Minister appealing to Kerifala Conteh to meet him at his Youyi Building offices.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Kerifala Conteh has plans to take the matter to the Anti Corruption Commission. However, Madam Khadija Sesay is adamant.
“I have not destroyed anyone’s property and I have not grabbed anybody’s land and I have never done that before, but if anybody wants to use this to tarnish my good image, then the law will take its cause because the land in question was allocated to me by the Ministry of Lands” said OGI’s Madam Khadija Sesay.
© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.