Panic Grips Rokel Community As Police Deployed By Order From Above
The Rokel Community at the Western Area Rural District, WARD-C, have complained that they are currently living in a panicky, hostile and unsecured vicinity, as trucks of armed police officers are deployed there on ‘Order from Above’ on the pretext of securing a piece of land, whose ownership is alleged to have been falsely claimed by one Pa Fuad against the beneficiaries of the late Mammy Cooper, who is believed to be the true and lawful owner of the disputed property.
This was brought to the attention of the media at a well-attended press conference held on Thursday March10th, 2022 at the Rokel Community.
Explaining the bone of contention in the matter, Headwoman for the Rokel Community, Madam Juliana Williams, in a sad mood, started by narrating that “My people had land dispute with one Pa Fuad, who was known to have acres of land only at Yams Farm, not at Rokel Community, as he claimed”.
She pointed out that the complaint of the said disputed large area of land had been investigated, not only by officials from the Lands Ministry, but it had also been investigated by the Sierra Leone anti-graft body, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and had come out with similar reports, which disqualified or condemned Pa Fuad from taking further action for the property, simply because, he was not the true owner, but an illegal squatter or encroacher from an unknown source.
However, the Headwoman showered praises on the then Minister of Lands, Dr. Dennis Sandy, for standing firm until the reevaluation of the fact about the land and to identify late Mammy Cooper as the true owner of the conflicted land through documents presented by both parties.
“When the Director of Surveys and Lands set eyes on Pa Fuad’s land documents, there was no LS number, which could have guaranteed its authenticity”, Juliana Williams stated, adding that when a certified surveyor displayed the GPS, it showed that Pa Fuad’s land stopped at Yams Farm vicinity and not extended to Rokel Community, as claimed by the Pa Fuad, who was perceived as a land grabber or illegal occupant.
The Headwoman recalled a fateful day, when in her absence, armed OSD officers stormed and raided the area at night and beat up occupants under the advice of Pa Fuad, emphasizing that a sixty five years old woman was also raped by some unidentified perpetrators during the police raid.
“Why Pa Fuad is still using armed officers to terrorize Rokel Community residents, when Government institutions and officials had provided the answer that the land in question lawfully belongs to the Cooper Family?”
“Since we are peaceful and law abiding citizens, we are humbly calling on the appropriate authorities to hands off the land, as directed by the government for peaceful co-existent in my community” she stressed..
She concluded that as a result of the usual harassment by the police, in collaboration with hired civilian thugs, the young people in Rokel have abandoned the community for other peaceful and secured environment.
Speaking on behalf of the Cooper Family, Aminata Cooper, who identified herself as one of the beneficiaries of the late Mammy Cooper’s property, said the master plan for the said acreage of land was registered in 1985, noting that indeed she was in great empathy with them as they were facing embarrassment and the possible demolition of their dwelling homes which they legally acquired.
She explained that when the report on the disputed land was published by lands Ministry and taken to the ACC for perusal, it was discovered that Pa Fuad had encroached nine acres into the late Mammy Cooper’s bonafide property.
“I am really surprised to see Pa Fuad coming with armed officers to terrorize and arrest innocent people, after the appropriate authorities have proven beyond all reasonable doubts with erected backings that the land was legally owned by my late mother”, she fumed and spoke about how she was mercilessly beaten together with a JC and their belongings worth millions of Leones carted away by the police and some outlaw civilians. She said the matter was reported at the Anti-Land Grabbing unit at the Ross Road Police Station in Eastern Freetown.
She lamented that Pa Fuad never sued them in court, and there was no Court order for any demolition, so why was the demolition? she queried. Other victims of the police raid, included Mr. Alhaji Bangura, Mbalu Fofanah, Youth Leader, Abdul Rahman Sankoh, Aminata Conteh, Zainab Gobber and others, expressed similar sentiments and unanimously called for justice and peaceful settlement for the good of the community and the country at large.
Speaking with a cross section of the OSD officers at the disputed area of land on the essence of their deployment in the vicinity, they responded that they were deployed on the ground by ‘Order from the Above’ through one of their commanders, DSP Samura, attached at the Hastings Police Training School, adding that they were armless and not there either to terrorize or frighten residents of the said community, but to provide the necessary protection for civilians. They denied allegations that they were armed and attacking indigenes unnecessarily.
They assured of continued provision of security for the area.
By Mento and Emmanuel
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