Sierra Leone ministry of lands implicated in another illegal land grabbing scandal

Joe Walker: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 September 2020:

On Wednesday 26th August of this year, unidentified persons break the padlock of the gates of property belonging to Mr. John D. Okrafo-Smart situated at the above address and carted away with construction materials estimated to worth millions of leones (i.e. seven bundles of corrugated roofing sheets, seven dozens of bush sticks, 1,500 cement blocks, tons of assorted steel iron rods, shovels, head-pans etc). Photo above: Dr Dennis Sandy – minister of Lands.

As a reputable citizen, Mr. J. D. Okrafo-Smart decided to follow the due process by reporting the breakage and theft of the above listed items at the Lumley Police Station on Thursday 27th August of this year for the attention of the police and to enable them with information leading to opening an investigation.

As wonders shall not end, on Monday 31st August this year again, a barrage of heavily armed police personnel stormed the said property and completely destroyed the gates and also demolished its perimeter wall. Upon enquiry form neighbours and other well-meaning citizens, the officers revealed that they are acting on orders from Dr. Dennis Sandy, Minister of Lands and Housing (Photo), and that their orders are to mercilessly beat up any resistance to their action “if any” on the said property.

As an independent and unbiased activist, I contacted Mr. J. D. Okrafo-Smart for his side of the story, he spoke to me and presented conveyances that authorised his legal ownership of the property in question.

As per the copies of conveyances I have in my possession, the property was originally registered on 16th June 1955 with Reg. # 257, page 18 of volume 179 (as private land). In addition, on the 16th July 1962, Justice Cornelius Harding bought the said property from the original owner and registered it with Reg. # 386, page 3 of volume 205 at the Registrar General’s office as private property.

Therefore, Mr. Okrafo-Smart had no hesitation when he bought the property from the esteemed Justice of the Supreme Courts of Sierra Leone and had never encountered any problems with anyone in respect to the said property until Dr. Dennis Sandy was appointed Minister of Lands and Housing in 2018.

However, Dr. Sandy himself didn’t flagged this property as state land during his tenure as Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment in 2008.

Dr. Dennis Sandy’s first attempt to illegally convert Mr. Okrafo-Smart’s property was when he advised one Mr. Jeffery Spring to apply to his ministry for the property alleging it is a state land. The minister then invited Mr. Okrafo-Smart to the ministry with all evidence related to his legitimate ownership of the property, he honoured the invitation and presented all relevant documents to Dr. Dennis Sandy for their attention on multiple occasions. It was suspected that given the authenticity of his documents, Mr. Jeffery Spring dropped his interest in their proposed deal.

Therefore, with the assumption that the matter has been settled with the Ministry of Lands and Housing, Mr. Okrafo-Smart relaxed over the issue.

Unfortunately, he started receiving calls from the neighbourhood that there are rumours making the rounds that a price $120,000 (One Hundred and Twenty Thousand U. S. Dollars) has been tagged to his property by Dr. Dennis Sandy and his cronies at the Ministry of Lands and Housing.

In fact, prospective buyers have started to pay visits to the land accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Lands and Housing.

Therefore, events of the 16th and 31st of August of this year had served as wake-up call to Mr. Okrafo-Smart. All efforts I have used to contact Dr. Dennis Sandy via his cell phones or an official from his ministry has been unsuccessful.

Notwithstanding, this issue attracted my attention because of what I have learnt about Mr. J. D. Okrafo-Smart’s personality. Therefore, if Dr. Dennis Sandy could not hesitate to carry out his excesses on a private citizen as in the case of Mr. Okrafo-Smart who had served this nation as a chartered accountant, M. D. of Union Trust Bank, M. D. of Rokel Commercial Bank, Chairman of Finance Committees of the School Boards of Annie Walsh Memorial School and Grammar School, a 76 years old man for that matter, I am of the opinion that in future it may be my parents, relatives, friends and or good neighbours may be his next victims.

Hence, I am kindly calling on His Excellency the President Rtd. Brigadier Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the Honourable Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, the Honourable Chief Minister, Professor David Francis for their immediate intervention into this issue in order to dispense justice for a peaceful, humble and hardworking citizen of our nation.

Finally, members of the police are strongly advised to stay off any ploy orchestrated by Dr. Dennis Sandy and his cronies at the Ministry of Lands and Housing from attempting to buy the said property (especially from the prominent Lebanese businessman who has been visiting the land “You know Yourself “) as the individual(s), will live to regret his or her action.

Editor’s Note:

For security reasons the real name of the author of this report has not been disclosed.

2 Comments

  1. In 2007 I bought one acre of land from a family member, whose family had owned the land since about 100 years ago. I have all the signed documents with me, and recently I was informed that the land belongs to the government. As I live in the UK, I was told by an official of the Ministry, that If I was not happy I should return to Freetown and sue the government. Lonta

  2. If these allegations are correct against the Minister of lands Dr Denis Sandy, he should be investigated by the Sierra Leone police or members of the ethics Committee of members of the Sierra Leone Parliament. I dont think he will resign and clear his name on his own accord . That is not part of his DNA make up. I wonder if such parliamentary committee exists. And if it does, I have never heard of it. Or to cut a story short, and spare us the agony of going through all that, the president who is recovering in Lebanon, should order for his immediate removal from office. Dr Sandy alleged actions have brought the Bio government into disrupt.

    This minister has no qualification to hold public office. As I always contend, we Sierra Leoneans prefer foreigners to take our lands than your fellow Sierra-leonean that has their biblical cord buried in the land. The only way you succeed in Sierra Leone, is if you are Johnny foreigner. The government and people will make sure you succeed. When I visited Guinea in 1989 and saw a Lebanese man selling charcoal, I nearly had heart attack. Please don’t misrepresent my statement by claiming I am going after our fellow hard working Lebanese in Sierra Leone. An educated man of Dr Sandy’s status, and given his position in government, he either don’t know his job, or he is behaving like a Mafia Boss tbat has no respect for the rule of law.

    So the idea that the Bio government respect property rights and the rule of law, is a misplaced concept. How do tbese people get appointed in such offices of state, yet have the spare time to go around throwing their weight on innocent people like street thugs? If a highly educated man can behave like that, what hope does the rest of us have in today’s Sierra Leone. More like you can start any thing in Sierra-leone and succeed, with a huge caveat AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT A SIERRA LEONEAN! WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF A MAFIA AND POLICE STATE,. May God bless Sierra-leone.

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