Pressure mounts yet again on president Bio to sack Lands Minister Sandy

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 February 2020:

Over a week ago, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), urged the country’s Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning – Dr. Dennis Sandy, to go on the air and respond to the huge and growing public outcry regarding what has been described as “his tribalistic, authoritarian and corrupt handling of land matters in the country”.

Mr Ahmed Sahid Nasralla – President of SLAJ, also challenged Minister Sandy to tell the people of Sierra Leone why he decided to unilaterally – without consulting the Rural Area Council – to name a community in the Grafton district of Freetown as “Pa-O-Pa Town”, which many in Sierra Leone now say belongs to supporters of the ruling SLPP party.

Speaking to the SLAJ executives who visited his office in Freetown, Minister Sandy said that the Ministry of Lands is plagued with all kinds of criminal activities, and that in order to eradicate the culture of corruption in the Ministry, he is employing aggressive measures.

“Everybody wants land. It’s a whole industry. It’s challenging, it’s chaotic and dirty. The land space in the Western Area has been squeezed over time. Our approach has been aggressive. Sometimes we have to behave abnormally for the benefit of the country and its citizens,” Dr. Sandy told SLAJ, adding that under his leadership there’s not going to be business as usual.

But such admission of corruption in the ministry of Lands will surely be seen as a serious indictment and failing of his leadership after serving two successive governments as Minister of Lands.

Regarding his recent naming of a community at Grafton as “Pa-O-Pa Town” – “Pa-O-Pa” being the ideological slogan of the ruling SLPP party, Dr. Sandy said he has the authority to do so under many laws including the Freetown Improvement Act (Cap 66 of 1966).

(Photo: Minister Sandy posing in front of his new Pa-O-Pa singboard).

Defending his decision, he said it was the same powers that former SLPP Minister of Lands, Bobson Sesay, used in renaming the settlement around the US Embassy in Freetown – Hill Station, as Plums Heath, IMATT and SS Camp; and other areas such as Angola Town and Gbangbayilla.

He said that the community that he has renamed as “Pa-O-Pa” Town in Grafton was previously referred to as APC Corner by those living in that community.

This is what he told SLAJ: “We went there and found out they were on state lands which were not properly acquired. So we reclaimed it and re-allocated the lands in a structured and orderly manner, and we are monitoring every construction on that land and every other settlement that we have identified, reclaimed and re-allocated for that matter. We called the key settlers to a meeting here at my office and we all agreed to rename the area Pa-O-Pa Town.

“It seems as if it is the name some people are unhappy about. When it was called APC Corner nobody raised concern. Pa-O-Pa is not SLPP. Pa-O-Pa means for the good of the country.”

The Lands Minister told SLAJ that whatever action he is taking, is supported by evidence and statutory authority of the Ministry. He said that some families are claiming historically ownership to 80 to 100 acres of land without proper documentation; there are some people with documents but no land; and non-citizens acquiring huge portions of land to the disadvantage of citizens.

He told SLAJ he will take to the airwaves and explain why he is taking the actions that he is being accused of as authoritarian and illegal.

Taking to the airwaves he did. Last Tuesday Minister Sandy was on Radio Democracy 98.1 FM’s popular ‘Good Morning Salone’ program.

Reactions to Minister Sandy’s radio rambling have been swift and damning, as citizens call for president Bio to sack him.

This is what C. C. V. Taylor – an experienced lawyer in Sierra Leone said:

“I wasn’t going to miss the Good Morning  show on Radio Democracy  FM 98.1 today. Dr. Sandy took to the airwaves on the land issues in Sierra Leone. I am so glad he did. His interview today reinforces my opinion about him and by extension the Government that allows him to continue to serve as a Minister.

“Dr Sandy alluded to the fact that the lawyers would be impressed by his delivery on radio. He is very mistaken, I am not.

“Dr Sandy “name drops” a lot. From a lawyers’ perspective, he would make a delightful witness for cross-examination. He mentioned families who owned lands in Kenema and other areas from whom he had reclaimed lands etc…I wonder why he didn’t continue the pattern of naming well-known Krio families in the Western Area from whom Dr Sandy had illegally reclaimed land.

“Dr Sandy showcased himself in very poor light……and that’s not my opinion alone. The text messages to the programme tells a story. One text message asked him to be serious; another described him as arrogant. Dr Sandy is thick-skinned – the assurance of a man confident of his standing or cavalier or bonkers.

“One of my favourite wise words is that ‘a man can be hung for what he says and not what he thinks’.

“Frankly, I don’t think Dr Sandy did the Chief Justice and the ACC Commissioner any justice too referencing their names as the company he keeps.

“I know of a few complaints touching on Dr Sandy s conduct before the ACC. The wise words that “a man is judged by the company he avoids” have both wisdom and legal precepts infused in the mix.
I strongly believe that politicians and judicial personnel shouldn’t t mix in respect of matters relating to the administration of law and justice.

“Dr Sandy was his self, very much in his element – laughing and chuckling when serious questions were asked for his clarification. He was evasive on matters of grave concern especially over the issue of his assumption of responsibility to rename areas within the city.

“When quizzed about the State’s acquisition of land in possession of private citizens, Dr Sandy narrated in mongrel form the procedure provided by law. I don’t know how Sandy legally got to make fresh conveyances to the State without a Court Order or the occupiers ceding possession to the State. I have been a lawyer in real estate for almost 20 years, and like Dr Sandy I am also very methodical and don’t fail exams.

“Dr Sandy  fell short of telling the listening audience whether or not the State had resolved the conflicts that exist between the State and many Krio families over land in the Western Area through judicial means or through the courts or at all.

“A sobering moment was when Dr Sandy was  reminded about the Grammar School incident. That incident saw the school reclaiming its lands from persons through the judicial process in Courts after decades of legal battle………A word to those who allegedly  thank Dr Sandy profusely for allocating to them lands “reclaimed”  by the State.

“Dr Sandy was pensive for a bit when mention was made of the Grammar School incident, then relapsed into the sense of security that this Government will win successive terms .

“Though Dr Sandy seems to have admitted in a wayward but Don Quixote manner to the Court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate over the cases of dispute between private citizens and the State, he was quick to reassert jurisdiction over State Land in a  godlike posturing; submitting that should a defaulter of the conditions of a State lease beg his forgiveness,  he Dr Sandy would have mercy on him.

“Dr Sandy fumbled over questions relating to the use of military personnel in matters of a civil nature,  referencing for a precedent what obtains in other jurisdictions like Kenya. Yes, he admitted to his use of military policemen when he goes out to reclaim ‘state land’.

“My goodness!! Dr Sandy’s confession of an abuse of his office to a national audience could not have escaped the attention of Francis Ben Kaifala (ACC Commissioner).

“Dr Sandy did not tell us about what the State intends to do about the land tenure system in Sierra Leone, especially in respect of a minority group that feels disenfranchised to equal access to land in the provinces.

“He defined the term ‘Pa-O-Pa’. I didn’t know whether that meant Pa-O-Pa  – me sef go get equal access to land in the provinces.”

Also responding to Minister Sandy’s radio broadcast, the former president of Sierra Leone’s Bar Association and an experienced lawyer – Ms. Basita Michael said:

“The Message from the blessed Dr. Sandy is clear: The rule of Law, access to justice and good governance are risk factors to his own arrogance and ignorance, dangerously insinuating that his arbitrary approach is validated by the Judiciary, the ACC and the Office of the AG, while he indirectly insulted the Vice President and openly defied him.

“Minister Sandy left unchecked, will create the lasting impression that he can violate the rule of law and abuse his office with impunity, and not just any impunity but impunity sanctioned by those who took an oath to uphold the rule of law.

“If only our President can now see that it is time to take prompt action to replace Minister Sandy, the New Direction will probably be saved from some amount of ridicule.”

Yesterday, an open letter was written to president Julius Maada Bio by Femi Claudius-Cole – an advocate and a victim of Minister Sandy’s actions. This is what she said:

“Sir, do you remember welcoming a team of concerned citizen at the State House, we were appreciative of your prompt response to our cry. At that meeting I was given the honour of speaking, Sir I said in no uncertain terms that I was making a complaint (Pote) against your Lands Minister Dr. Sandy.

“I wish to once again bring to your attention sir, you have a Minister that has gone totally ‘rogue’. I ask Sir, is Dr. Dennis Sandy above the Law, or is he your sacred Minister, and untouchable, a law unto himself – the judge, the jury and the executioner of land matters?

“May I be so bold as to remind you that you promised the people transparency, the rule of law, discipline and a fight against corruption. Please Sir, summon the ACC boss so he can peruse with you the numerous complaints that have been filed against Dr Sandy.

“An impromptu visit by you to his office will give you a glimpse of the problem. Dr. Sandy’s office is most likely the busiest and most disorganized ministerial office in the government of Sierra Leone. He sits “Court” like a Paramount Chief in his office, disrespecting elderly citizens, chastising them so loudly that those in the waiting room can clearly hear his verbal tirade.

“Dr. Dennis Sandy appears to be so far above the law that despite the mountain of complaints on the desk of the ACC Commission and the courts, he continues to wield and abuse his assumed power with a level of impunity that makes one believe he has your blessing.

“Mr. President, this is not a Krio problem, it is a Sierra Leonean problem that can no longer be ignored. It needs your immediate attention Sir. It is imperative you familiarize yourself with the details of some of these complaints, so you can appreciate the level of his mishandling and miscarriage of land ownership issues.

“During our visit with you, you handed over the investigation of this complaint to your Vice President – Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh. But it has become increasingly clear that this Minister’s power is such that without your directives there will be no solutions. It is time Sir for you to personally assess and arrest this ugly situation.

“You must rein Dr. Dennis Sandy ‘in’. He cannot, he should not be allowed to continue this reign of terror. Adjudicating disputes is the role of the judiciary.

“I thank you in anticipation of your prompt decisive action.”

President Bio is poised to make another cabinet reshuffle in the next few months. The question that many in Sierra Leone are asking is: Will president Bio remove Dr Dennis Sandy from the lands ministry, to make way for investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission into the plethora of cases that are currently on the desk of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner against Dr Sandy?

14 Comments

  1. Thank you very much Gloria for your thoughts. I appreciate your comment very much. But, till we reach that stage, the APC is the best and only party between the good and the bad to rule Sierra Leone. The present situation in our country is even worse than during the one party days, in terms of the divisiveness of the country. The divisiveness in our country just two years of this government is inexplicable. Can you imagine? Sierra Leone can’t continue like this. We need big brother APC to clear us from the country’s political, economic and social GRIDLOCK.

    Don’t worry Gloria, the APC is going to restructure and give us a government in 2023 that will bring us together. That I will guarantee you. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma is preoccupied with the puzzle of that transformation and will succeed. Believe me.

    Former President Ernest Bai Koroma in the past, did not only Coalesce with the PMDC to form a very strong government, but also reached out to his critics in the opposition to hear from them. Have you seen that honestly happening with this administration? A cosmetic State House meeting with the opposition was convened sometime ago, but the result after was, storming the APC headquarters, land grabbing in Freetown, changing the name of the Wallace Johnston Bridge to create disgust and teargasing our country’s most popular politician Chief Sam Sumana on the streets of Port Loko for no reason. What a barbarity!

    Political parties like the C4C, the NGC etc are new and to be realistic Gloria, they have to coalesce in this case with the APC in 2023 to bring back sanity in politics and the political gains made both by the late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba and as you all know, the GREAT former President Ernest Bai Koroma. Abee? Na True. Talking to myself. The APC and the other opposition parties have to. We are going to make sure that happens. Mind you, not all supporters of the SLPP are backing some of the reckless policies and behavior of their administration. You see, there is a very big opportunity for the APC and it’s definitely going to be exploited come 2023. God bless Gloria for her candid thought.

  2. One thing is clear come 2023 when the APC comes back to power and that is this – All lands acquired/bought by anyone during the term of this present Administration will be declared illegal and subject to a commission of inquiry, which will be given the powers to recommend the immediate repossession of the lands by the new APC Administration.

    Also, all land disputes will be looked into and lands grabbed by the reckless policies of this Ungentleman Minister of Lands be returned to their rightful owners. Period! This is going to be a priority. That I can guarantee anyone. This land grab issue, if not put to an end by the APC Administration in 2023, is going to create a very dangerous and messy situation that could lead to fighting between tribes and communities in Freetown.

    This UNGENTLEMAN Minister of Lands and his supporters are trying to create anger amongst people through his reckless Land Grab policy, supported by the Bio Administration, to create chaos and anarchy in our beloved capital. What I don’t understand is that, President Bio and his Administration have no control over the situation. Can you imagine? Again, it does not surprise me because of the complete leadership failure by the Bio Administration. For that reason, this Administration will go down in history as the most CORRUPT Administration ever.

    They came in power by fooling us about setting up a COI just to round up APC supporters and the “weakest links” in the former government, to make us feel that they are fighting corruption. I don’t buy it. However, we will know the truth when the APC comes to power in 2023. It’s going to happen. That I can tell anyone.

    The only way to sort out this Excellent MESS is to vote APC in 2023 and “get SALONE sorted”. By the way, a promotion has been made from gentleman to ungentleman. This new title will resonate to everyone in the world who cares about our country and would like to come and help in 2023 when this deceitful Administration would have vanished and thrown into the political wilderness forever.

    God bless and help our country from Chaos and Anarchy due to the reckless, disastrous, polluted and divisive policies of these ungentlemen officials in the Bio Administration.

    • APC again, there had been no improvement ever since these two political parties were imposed in Sierra Leone. l think its about time people go for a change of parties. People are sick and tired of APC and SLPP. It’s about time for a real change of party name and Government.

  3. Young4na, Dr. Sandy was the first Minister of lands when Ernest Koroma was crowned as president in 2007. At that time he was part of the PMDC guys compensated for pitching relationship with the APC. He was sacked two years thereafter when the APC and PMDC relationship turned sour. Many PMDC guys jumped ship and joined the APC. Dr. Sandy remained with the PMDC. He was sacked. So your assertion that he has been at the lands ministry for more than 4years is not true.

    • Aminata Conteh, It appears you are trying to prove something that you actually have no knowledge about. For your information, Dr. Sandy was never the first land minister under EKB cabinet, please check the link below to prove yourself wrong.

      http://www.thepatrioticvanguard.com/full-list-of-cabinet-ministers-and-their-deputies

      Now in regards to the rest of the cooked up assertions you made regarding the dismissal of Dr. Sandy from the EBK government, I want you to thoroughly do some research before continuing with such flawed premise. By all indications, it appears your biased political impulses are dictating your thinking capacity rather than actual facts. Yes, I might have made the wrong guess in the number of years that Dr. Sandy have spent in the ministry of land, so what?

      The fact is, he served more than 2years during the EBK government as a land minister; and under this regime, he is at his 2nd year. So by all indications he has been at the ministry for more than 4yrs. Isn’t that a good amount of time to have made a huge difference? Why focus on only the time of tenure which I misstated; what about the many salient points I raised Ms. Conteh? It will be great if you can address the important points I raised rather than latching onto the miniscule aspect of ministerial tenure for personal political gains.

  4. Young4na,

    One critical element in engaging in a serious debate is getting your facts right. This is something that you have no respect for given your proclivity to making up stories.

    During crooked Ernest Koroma’s rule, the office of minister of Lands had a revolving door, meaning that the portfolio of minister of Lands was held by many folks, including captain Benjamin, Dr. Dennis Sandy, Musa Tarawally, Diana Konomanyi and others whose names I cannot remember. Of this group the only non-APC guy was Dr. Sandy.

    Dr. Sandy served for less than one year and was fired for participating in a PMDC rally held by Charles Margai. But another cogent reason could have been that Sandy was a non-Northerner without the archetypical northerner last name holding a position that belonged to a Northern tribalist.

    So the nonsense about Dr. Sandy being a tyrannical minister who for years have been out there to terrorize legitimate land owners is full of baloney. The man has spent most of his working years as an academic lecturing Economics on Mount Aureol. He quit the PMDC and rejoined the SLPP and has been a reliable cog in president Bio’s policy formulating process. Fire him? Tough luck. Such calls will receive the same attention as the calls to fire the Chief Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone.

    Dr. Sandy is on the good side of history. He will continue working hard to reclaim state lands from unscrupulous APC operatives. Case closed.

    • Bilal Coleman; hahaha; Is it funny that Mr. Coleman is attacking me for misstating the number of years that Dr. Sandy has spent in the land ministry despite the fact that I declared in my comments that I might be wrong? For crying out loud, Mr. Coleman is a renowned fake news peddler whose only reason to participate in this glorious forum is to praise sing and appease the current crop of corrupt politicians in our motherland. Almost all his comments carry some amount of propaganda or untruthful statements. Here is another cooked up assertions by the notorious fake news peddler.

      “ Dr. Sandy served for less than one year and was fired for participating in a PMDC rally held by Charles Margai. But another cogent reason could have been that Sandy was a non-Northerner without the archetypical northerner last name holding a position that belonged to a Northern tribalist.”

      Mr. Coleman, do facts really matter to you? Are you aware that Dr. Sandy served in multiple capacities during the EBK regime which includes being the minister of social welfare in addition to his appointment as land minister, please check the link below.

      https://sierraexpressmedia.com/?p=17109

  5. Thanks to Minister Sandy for fighting back for the mudslide victims that perished in Freetown due to lawlessness which resulted after the killing of a government official who was trying to restore law and order during late President Kabba’s administration. Hopefully one day the whole of Freetown will be renamed as PAOPA TOWN (which derived from Temne tribe) after the rapid development that will be evident after the two terms of President Maada Bio.

    I hope that Minister Sandy has the maximum protection necessary due to the level of hatred that some APC supporters are expressing towards any self confident and effective SLPP officials by labeling them as arrogant. May the almighty continue to bless our president whose ideology is – “PAOPA SALONE GO BETTEH.”

  6. Absolutely Not! He’s not on the right track,but on the edges of the cliffs of imminent disaster. Is this how a Minister endowed with authority should act in today’s civilized world? He frowns on the rule of law,and tramples on the rights,and freedoms of citizens,without showing any remorse at all,and you have the audacity to applaud, celebrate and encourage him for his lawless, disgraceful attitude? You can’t be serious (lmao) But…wait just a minute. Seriously, are you really serious? (lol)
    Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  7. This gentleman Minister of Lands is the worse gentleman Minister of Lands our country has ever had. He will go down in history as the gentleman Minister of Lands who masterminded the appalling and disgusting Land Grab policies. Adding to his disastrous Land Grab policies, he would be remembered as the Gentleman Minister of of Lands ever, who tried to reverse our country to the days of the Protectorate and the Colony because of his divisive, dangerous and catastrophic Land Grab thinking. Can you imagine? What a divisive Gentleman Politician he was. God bless the Gentleman Minister of Lands.

  8. Where were all the critics of Dr. Dennis Sandy when Ernest Koroma and his coterie of APC thieves were grabbing state land all over the Western Area for their personal use? And these same folks even shamelessly raise the idle point of the minister renaming a town PAOPA town? But they never had a problem with the same town being called APC corner?

    This is exactly why the sage Dr. Sama Banya has repeatedly lambasted the APC for fueling violence in Sierra Leone. If these APC fanatics can only give president Bio space to lead our nation, it will be a win-win situation for all.

    Dr. Sandy is the best Lands minister that Sierra Leone has had in a while. The man is fearless and impartial in the discharge of his duties. The Western Area has had more complaints about illegal land grabbing than any other part of Sierra Leone. Thus, Dr. Sandy may not have come at a better time to rout the trespassers and thieves of state land. And the minister’s critics throwing in the notion of Sierra Leone’s land tenure system is as nonsensical as it is a distraction to the real issues and challenges confronting the ministry of land. There is no nexus between the two.

    Land tenure in Sierra Leone, like in other countries, is a constitutional issue. Conversely, dislodging government land trespassers falls in the domain of the ministry of lands. Thus, minister Sandy is in his right in dealing with the lawless people. President Bio will not replace Dennis Sandy. The president knows that the man is great at what he s does.

    • Mr. Coleman; are you aware that Dr. Sandy was the same minister of lands under the APC? If my memory serves me well, he has been in charge of the lands ministry for the past 7 years following his appointment by the former APC government to take over after the dismissal of former minister Musa Tarawaillie.

      So, if he is indeed a lawful and best man for the lands ministry, why did he allow or surreptitiously connive with many corrupt politicians and ordinary wealthy citizens, to illegally sell state lands, mainly in the mountainous areas of HIMATT, REGENT, GLOUCESTER, LEICESTER etc, destroying the ecosystem and exposing Freetown to water shortage and many other environmental disaster?

      For over 7 years Dr. Sandy over saw and approved all land conveyances despite knowing fully well that, majority of the locations are disaster prone areas, and the inhabiting vegetations are necessary to preserve water containment especially within the GUMA VALLEY surroundings.

      Now, having been a minister of lands for the past 7yrs, are you telling me that Dr. Sandy just had an epiphany and suddenly discover that the KRIOs who many have occupied some of the mountainous villages I mentioned above for generations are occupying state lands? If indeed there is merit in his claims, what took him so long to come to these conclusions? Why the sudden focus on these group of people who are mostly the indigenes of Freetown?

      In the provinces, mainly in the rural areas, 100% of the citizens have no documentation for their land ownership. Their only proof of ownership is the fact that their family members for generations have occupied and farmed those lands. With the mountainous villages of Freetown considered in the past as rural areas with the Krios occupying and farming those lands; are we willing to apply the same approach to all our up country indigenes to provide proof of ownership of their lands as the regime is doing to the Krios now?

      This politics of double standards, retribution, revenge, and hypocrisy, are the very reasons why our nation continues to be stagnated.

  9. Goodness gracious! The atmosphere in our Sierra Leone is like a wayward storm out of control,battering,and pounding a house in total disarray,and disorder.A lawless, arrogant tribalistic Minister,showing signs of mental insecurities,is on a rampage; a wounded bull, spreading terror.This unbridled government is clearly a disaster waiting to happen;the rule of law, and the rights of citizens mean nothing to them,and they wonder why investors refuse to come to Sierra Leone,where inglorious,and obnoxious men like Sandy,Saffa,and Francis are the biggest perpetrators of violence,and injustices against ,harmless,innocent citizens.

    Maada Bio is unfit,and incapable of ruling our country,without pointing the barrel of a loaded gun at someone.He lacks the abilities to engage in meaningful dialogue,and the skills to reason,bargain,and inspire others is totally lacking. Only a stupid,delusional person in a position of power would see it as a perfect opportunity to promote,and validate tribal
    sentiments, beliefs,and ideas.- Mr Sandy is as dumb as they come. I mean seriously,where did this loose canon study,for him to appear so shockingly unethical,rude,harsh,and uncivil.

    The ACC,and the Chief Justice,are puppets of Maada Bio,who is also a hand puppet being controlled by David Francis.Why is President Bio,not governing like Mr Weah,and getting things done?Why is he always on the run?Is it possible that this President is transporting our diamonds discreetly to other countries,for safekeeping on his endless trips,disguised as a search for investors?What is going on? A rolling stone,they say,gathers no moss…how does this escapist President expect to make an amount of progress by travelling so much?

    When the cat’s away,the SLPP will play,all day, spread chaos,and disarray,because Maada Bio is far away.A stitch in time saves nine,why cant Bio do things right,while there’s still time? Two years gone,without achieving anything credible,causing already erratic minded men like Mr Sandy to panic,and completely lose their bearings,trying to fix unfixable messes created by their own unfruitful,incompetent hands…(lol)Rising Sun. Will Rise Again.

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