Female entrepreneur loses thousands of dollars investment in Sierra Leone – still no justice

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 October 2020:

Just when she thought it was safe and the right decision to return home to Sierra Leone to invest her hard earned cash in her country of birth, Mrs Annie Metzger has witnessed all her hard work and investments gone up in smoke, as armed thugs working for a Guinean Company in Sierra Leone – Guicopres, with the support of corrupt public officials, bulldozed her entire property situated at Lumley Beach, Aberdeen.

Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Mrs Annie Metzger said that her nightmare began after the APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma came to power in 2007, at which time the construction of her Youth Training Centre for the rehabilitation of thousands of youths affected by the rebel war was progressing well, on a four acre land donated to her by the former president – Alhaji Tejan Kabba for humanitarian and community development purpose.

And after investing over a hundred thousand dollars on construction work, came news from government officials in the Ministry of Tourism, threatening to remove Mrs Annie Metzger from the land, all because a wealthy and well connected Guinean businessman had expressed an interest in the land.

Then came the bulldozers. Mrs Annie Metzger told the Sierra Leone Telegraph yesterday, that her unfinished Youth Training Centre construction project was demolished by thugs working for the Guinean business Tycoon – Kelfala P Kamara (Photo), who then unlawfully took over the land with the support and backing of Tourism Ministry officials.

Mrs Annie Metzger took the matter to the High Court of Sierra Leone, where a Judge imposed an injunction which ought to have prevented the Guinean tycoon from taking any further action on the land.

But since that court injunction, the Guineans have moved in again and have started construction work on the land, without waiting for their appeal to be heard in the Appeal Court.

Such is the nature of justice in Sierra Leone – which can be easily bought by the highest bidder and in favour of the politically connected.

Mrs Annie Metzger, who it seems is fighting a losing battle against a powerful and politically connected Guinea business tycoon, is not only facing ruin, but early this year lost her son – a final year student at the University of Sierra Leone who sadly passed away after a short illness.

Does the Bio-led government care about the plight of Mrs Annie Metzger, justice, corruption, and protecting the investments of hard working Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora?

For a government that speaks about encouraging foreign investors and especially Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora to return home to invest and create jobs, as well as improve the well-being of people in deprived communities, it beggars belief that despite writing a letter personally to President Julius Maada Bio requesting his intervention, Mrs Annie Metzger has had no response nor justice.

This is an Open Letter written to President Bio by Mrs Annie Metzger, published in the local media on July 27, 2018. Will President Bio now take action to ensure that justice is dispensed fairly?

Dear Sir,

Plot No: BP57-BP60

Referencing the above, I write to draw your kind attention to a long standing matter between the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and the National Tourist Board on one hand and my humble self, Miss Annie Metzger on the other hand, over a beach land at Aberdeen that was offered to me in 2001 by the government of former President Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (RIP).

Before going any further Sir, let me seize this singular opportunity to heartily congratulate you on your elevation to the highest office of the land and wish you the very best as you move towards taking our beloved country into a new direction. PAOPA, Salone for Betteh.

Back to the land issue Sir, your predecessor mentioned above, graciously offered me the land in question through the National Tourist Board in recognition of my marked humanitarian service rendered to people who are badly affected by the decade-long bloody civil war when it  was at its peak at the time.

In appreciation, I assured him that the land would be used to positively impact the lives of thousands of young people yearning for empowerment in diverse ways so as to become useful citizens in the immediate future.

My determination was to construct a multi-purpose youth center with ultra-modern facilities and equipment necessary for achieving the set objectives.

The building was halfway through in 2014 when a Guinean based road construction company called Guicopres in concert with the National Tourist Board and backed up by hired thugs and armed police personnel, illegally brought it down without a court order, claiming that they are the new owners of the said plot of land, after I have paid all my yearly lease fees from 2002 to 2014.

Giving my determination, I started the building all over again and was almost on completion stage when the then acting Minister of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Madam Kadie O. Sesay together with the out gone Director of the National Tourist Board Mr. Yassin Kargbo, the current Director of Tourism at the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Mr. Mohamed Jalloh and the now Acting Director of the National Tourist Board, Madam Fatmata Ade-Osagie, during the infamous Aberdeen Creek demolition which had nothing to do with the beach land area, took bulldozers to my site and maliciously demolished my structure in August 2015, again without any court order.

That happened at a time when I was in court with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and the National Tourist Board over the possession of the land and when the court was yet to deliver a ruling in respect of the matter.

For the first time, I took the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and National Tourist Board to court for contempt, and as God would have it, judgment was delivered in my favor with a stiff order for the restoration of my building to how it was.

What this means is that it is my legally demolished building that is in contest and not the land on which it was been built. Please see attached the High Court ruling in question.

Your Excellency Sir, Please take note that till date, that court order has not been enforced due to political manipulations championed by elements of the former government who as a matter of fact took so much money from the Guinean company and thought they can bully me and get away with it.

Guicopres personnel were using red attires to intimidate me and even boasted of their ability to penetrate any government in an event that the APC loses the election.

Apart from the court order not being enforced, I have been denied due access to the plot of land, whilst Guicopres under the cover of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board and the Sierra Leone Police has been forcing its way into the site and have criminally graded the land and erected a zinc fence and a security post whilst the matter is still in court. To vividly show their alliance with the then government, they used pure red zinc in the construction of the illegal fence at my site. The red fence is there for all to see.

Since the illegal demolition of my project, I’ve been in so much distress and this has cost me direly in financial and emotional terms. I have even separated with my American partner who helped fund the building project as a result because I was spending more time in this country trying to fulfil my dream for the youths of Sierra Leone at a time when my husband needed me most in the US to help with his already established businesses out there.

My greatest stress right now is having to deal with the membership of the group I established called ‘Empower the Youth – Sierra Leone’ numbering over 500 from various universities, senior secondary schools and tertiary institutions across the country.  These are young people in utmost need of mentoring and positive social exposure as they prepare for national service after completing their studies.

Coincidentally, I have four of your nieces and one nephew in my group. They are: Phebean Kamara (Fourah Bay College), Lettie Bio (Just sat WASSCE at the Saint Helena Secondary School), Gloria Bio (Just sat WASSCE at the Saint Helena Secondary School), Janet Kamakuma (Government Municipal Secondary School) and Benedict George (Fourah Bay College).

As a matter of fact Sir, Guicopres knowing full well that the land in question duly belongs to me, made an unsolicited offer of Three Hundred Million Leones to me as compensation to allow them take over the land.

I wasted no time in rejecting their offer because I have no intention of abandoning my vision for the youths and besides the amount offered fall far short of what I have already spent in flying in and out of the country and constructing the structures that were arbitrarily demolished, not to talk about my solicitor fees and all the emotional pains and life threats I have endured including been violently thrown to the ground, handcuffed and locked up in cell several times by the police working in the best interest of the foreign company.

The latest is that Guicopres with whom I have no business insofar as the land is concerned, recently sued me to court claiming that I have been a hindrance to the construction of a sky scrapper hotel facility and as a result has ran into a huge financial loss. Their appeal to the court is that I should refund all their losses that run into several thousands of dollars and also for the judge to rule in their favour for them to completely kick me out so that they can gain full access to the site to start their sky scrapper.

Rather surprisingly and without even hearing my own side of the story, the Ministry of Tourism under the current Minister Madam Memunatu Pratt in whom I had so much faith to amicably resolve the matter, has filed in an affidavit in support of Guicopres against me in court.

What has come out clearly is that the presiding judge, Justice Kekura Bangura a known partisan, has already demonstrated one-sidedness in the trial and on two occasions openly intimidated me in court and even asked me out during the last court hearing saying he doesn’t even want to see me. Sir, how can I have justice before such a biased and heavily induced judge?

It is in view of this and taking into consideration your pledge to move the country into a new direction wherein the youth population would be prioritized as a critical human resource base, that I have deemed it fit to request your kind intervention.

It is worthy to note that in all of these, the recently verified list of all legal land owners at the Lumley Beach bear my name. The verification was done as recent as two months ago and I duly appended my signature on the document that was administered by two officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, whose names I have for further reference. How come the same ministry has now filed in an affidavit in favor of Guicopres whose name was not on that final verified list as at the time I signed it as the legally entitled owner? It’s nothing but outright corruption that needs to be investigated.

Another issue of keen concern is the fact that the original BP Number contained in all relevant documents and correspondences relating to the land has been fraudulently altered (from the original land plot No. BP57-BP60 to BP59-BP60 and also from BP57-BP60 to BP68-BP69 respectively). For instance, the court papers filed by both the Ministry of Tourism and the National Tourist Board and Guicopres carry different incorrect BP Numbers, and obviously, tampering with an official document is an act of corruption.

This same corruption has paved the way for the APC timber magnate Patrick Koroma to encroach on my land and at the same time joined in the fight with Guicopres, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and the National Tourist Board, to kick me out of my legally assigned land.

Sir, Mr. Koroma happens to have bought the land next to mine for the whooping sum of $250,000 (Freehold) from one Akmed Mansaray, who used the influence of Patrick Koroma to kick out the original owners of the land (Beach Apple and Mr. Kakay) in connivance with the National Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. In the first place Sir, a beach land is not supposed to be sold. This again is an outright corruption.

Your Excellency Sir, let me close by reiterating that this matter has dragged for far too long and continues to drag with no end in sight, and giving that the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs has chosen to rather unduly act against me in favour of the Guinean company, I can only now count on your intervention.

Let me further state that it is my right as a Sierra Leonean and the future of our youths that I have been fighting for all these years and have even abandoned my lucrative job in the UK to access legal redress through your fine office Sir..

Thanks in advance for your kind intervention and best wishes in your tenure as our beloved president.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Annie Metzger AKA Annie Mezo, Chief Executive Officer: Empower the Youths-SL /Inter-Mezo Promotions-SL/UK – Assigned owner of Plot No: BP57-BP60, Aberdeen-Lumley Beach, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

 

6 Comments

  1. Why this story might draw the weak and critical minds to quickly take sides, I am particularly drawn to the corruption issue raised by the complainant against officials of the former government. Some of these same officials are mentioned in the just published Whitepaper. And disappointingly, some brothers in and around this forum have been vigorously defending those named in the white paper claiming that they are angels who did not wrong and are just being witch-hunted because they served in the government of their Master and demigod Ernest Bai Koroma.

    Having made the above observation, I would now turn to Miss Annie Metzger. This land was offered to you in 2001 as a lease for which you paid only Le50,000 (less than $10=) and yet in 2014, 13 years after you had this land, you still had an incomplete structure going on. The youths who were your targets some were already adults at this stage. But surprisingly, after the first structure was demolished, you wrote above that in 2015, you almost had a completed structure which was again demolished. From the tune of this letter, it sounds as if you are now currying the favour from the current president and what better way to do so by mentioning his many nieces and nephews you have in your programme.
    Truth be told madam, I am not sure you were honest enough at the time that you applied for that land. Your intention was to keep the land, and like many have done at the detriment of the country, sell it at hundreds of thousands of dollars. You just mentioned in your letter above that, the land neighbouring what you are fighting for was sold for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This and all the land in that area were government lands which were given to unscrupulous people for stipends as low as ($10) by the government.

    Under another topic on this forum, a contributor had once written that government should stop leasing government lands in the western area and it should rather form a Sierra Leone Development Board that would sell Government lands at competitive prices. That way, it would raise revenue for the government and it would at the same time put an end to the repeated land grabbing and fighting in the country especially in the western area. Tanzania has this law, Rwanda has adopted it. Sierra Leone should adopt it if the fight against corruption is to be taken to a more serious level.

  2. Pls his excellency we need justice for our fellow Sierra Leonean cause this is pure advantage. We the youth are calling on you because you promised us to end corruption. So please give this woman justice. You have the power to do it -please.

  3. SAD. I felt very sad reading the story. How can such things happen to Sierra Leoneans in their home country? Is Mrs Annie Metzger going to have justice done in her favour? What I fear most, is the political ping pong and never ending blame game that will soon emerge from this very sad situation. It is unfortunate to be trapped in a political corrupt den of both the past and present governments.

    The officials in the past government responsible for this unfortunate situation had already passed the corrupt baton to those in the present a long time ago. With the Land Grab “virus” presently in Sierra Leone under the present “Land Grab” administration in the Ministry of Lands, things will be more complicated for Mrs Annie Metzger in my view. Will President Bio listen? Absolutely not. Maybe he will prove me wrong. I pray to the Almighty God that Mrs Annie Metzger succeeds. Let’s keep praying Annie. God will surely help you. God bless Mrs Annie Metzger and her project. Amen and Amen. Father God.

  4. Wow, what a horrible predicament this seemingly patriotic lady has found herself! Essentially, the Sierra Leone government turning its back against a citizen in favour of a foreign entity, all because of money. The worst form of nightmare any diaspora wanting to invest back home can ever find his/herself. I pity this great patriot!!

  5. A wise man once said,”There is no justification for acts of injustice.” Totally agree! Again, because we live in a system that has become totally rotten to its innermost core with corrupt attitudes and tendencies, probity and fair play have now been completely replaced by cruelty, favoritism and predilection. Our corrupt system of governance is one that aptly resembles an open festering wound that refuses to heal, that gets uncontrollably worse by the minute because it keeps on ceaselessly oozing and pouring out pus and strange liquids infected by bacteria.

    Madam, your story sounds credible, but I have a hunch that there is much more from the other side that would shed light on this issue that we would need to hear also – after all there’s always two interesting sides to every story! Again, if all the information you have bravely provided here on this glorious forum are true, then my honest advice is for you to strap your boots and brace yourself for an all-out vigorous war against blatant exploitation and injustice. Answer – are you ready lady to fight tooth and nail, using every legitimate means and avenue necessary in order for justice to prevail? Do not be hasty to conclude that things will be much different now because there is a new government in power. As far as our shady politicians are concerned ‘MONEY TALKS’ and therefore they are prone to doing anything that will be advantageous and beneficial to them. Be strong and resolute! Hold on to the truth until Justice finally prevails.

  6. I have always maintained and not for the first time unless you happen to be a foreigner in Sierra leone, the chances of you starting anything meaningful in our country as a Sierra Leonean, that benefits Sierra Leoneans, to succeed is nil. We Sierra Leoneans have always been cheerleaders for foreign owned businesses to make it in our country, to the detriment of your fellow country men and women. One of the mistakes Mrs Annie Metzger appears to have made is to have declared her that stated aim was to help her fellow Sierra Leonean youths that are victims of the RUF wars.

    President Kabbah understood it. But for the rest, it is too much for our corrupt politicians that bought us war to swallow. They rather see our youths continue to suffer than offer their support. Yes these youths that are drugged up and forced to commit the most unimaginable crimes, needed rehabilitation for them to be able to function in society, and in future make a meaningful contribution to their communities. My only take away from this unfortunate situation Mrs Annie Metzger has found herself in, is both this government and the past governments has no such programmes on their agendas.

    Once again the losers are our youths. And it clearly shows how our judiciary is compromised. This shows how our governments have been hypocritical in inviting Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora to come back and help rebuild the country. Ghana, Somalia and South Sudan are enjoying the fruits of their diaspora returnees, while our own government is punishing well meaning Sierra Leoneans that have come to help. May God bless Sierra leone.

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