As Ruled by the High Court… Seidya Group (SL) Ltd is the Rightful Owner of Land at IMATT, South Ridge

By Amin Kef Sesay

One of the most contentious issues in Sierra Leone today has to do with the claim of ownership of pieces of land on which dwelling houses and other structures are meant to be built. The Law Courts are awash with cases of disputed pieces of land of which two opposing parties or more are claiming or battling for to emerge as the bona fide owners.

From time to time, there have been narrations of harrowing incidences in which family members have become arch enemies in the battle of supremacy over plots of land and in some other cases we have heard of brutal, internecine disputes, assaults and wounding cases as well as the use of fetish sometimes leading to untimely deaths.

Those situations become even compounded when certain public officials, who deal with land issues, make fake documents for individuals claiming ownership of pieces of land, just simply out of personal aggrandizement without thinking of the consequences of their actions.

These land “wahala” or disputed cases have become so alarming in certain communities around the country to such an extent that those in authorities that deal with land issues must really take a proactive stance to ensure that the right things are done in order to prevent any future or imminent mayhem from taking place.

On the 18th October 2021, there was a serious fracas within an area called IMATT, South Ridge to be precise, in the far West End of Freetown, as the  illegal occupants of the piece of land, said to be the property of Seidya Development Company Limited, putting up a stiff resistance lasting for hours.

In the process of ejecting the illegal trespassers from the said piece of land by bailiffs the alleged illegal occupants and their supporters put up a very stiff resistance, wailing that they have been unfairly treated.

The said property is situated, lying and being at Off Leicester Peak Road, Hill Station, and Freetown as shown on Survey Plan No. SLS67/04 dated 4th March 2013.

From what this medium understood, the land in question was put under the control of a caretaker. The latter, however,  decided to sell the piece of land to five different individuals, on separate dates,  namely: Samuel Kargbo, Ibrahim Kabia, Alhaji Kamara, Francis Kai Kai, Henry Brewah, all of Leicester Peak Road, Hill Station in Freetown.

The matter was taken to the court with Seidya Group (SL) Ltd as Plaintiff/Applicant and the five illegal trespassers as Defendants/Respondents.

In a High Court Ruling by Justice John Bosco Alieu dated 10th February 2021 it was stated that the plaintiff is at all material times to this action the person entitled to possession of all that property occupied by the 1st, 2n, 3rd and 5th Defendant /Respondent which said property is situated lying and being at Off Leicester Road, Hill Station, Freetown as shown on Survey Plan numbered SLS67/04 dated 4th March, 2013.

That the Plaintiff/Applicant do recover possession from the 1st , 2nd , 3rd  and 5th Defendant/Respondent all that piece or parcel of land situated at Off Leicester Peak  Road, Hill Station, Freetown as shown on Survey Plan numbered SLS67/04 dated 4th March, 2013.

That the Plaintiff/Applicant do recover damages for trespass against the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Defendant/Respondent respectively.

That an injunction is hereby granted restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Defendant/Respondent whether by themselves or by their servants/ Agents, privies or however called from trespassing upon or remaining on the Plaintiff’s land.

That the Counter Claim filed for and on behalf of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Defendants/Respondents against the Plaintiff/Applicant be dismissed.

That cost is hereby ordered against the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Defendants/Respondents in the total sum of Twenty Million Leones (Le20, 000,000.00) each.

That the plaintiff/Applicant be at liberty to pursue his claims against the 4th Defendant/Respondent by filing Summons for Direction fourteen (14) days after delivering this ruling.

Indeed, the land dispute has been a long drawn one. Head of the Seidya Development Company Limited, Alimu Sanu Barrie, who is the Proprietor of PAVI FORT Roads Construction Company has been so busy with the rolling out of contract projects that he dedicated little time in pursuing the matter.

However, based on the fact that the illegal occupants have been very intransigent to vacate from the piece of land and with the intervention of two Members of Parliament, Hon. Telson Koroma of Constituency 127 and Hon. Benjamin Turay of Constituency 128 an amicable mediation plan was developed which all the parties to the land dispute must adhere to.

Basically, it was a sumptuous and well packaged offer by Alimu Sanu Barrie to the illegal occupants. According to a written document, dated 8th June 2021, Barrie said in recognition of the mediation between the Honourables and himself plus his magnanimity not to put untold suffering on the illegal occupants he is offering them the following: 2 Acre of land, 2,000 bags of cement, 15 tons of iron ore, 10 trips of sand and One Hundred Million Leones (Le100, 000.00).  According to him such should serve as compensation.

In return he demanded that all occupants cease to lay claim to the property, that they access the offer through the Members of Parliament, all make shift structures and permanent structures shall be forfeited and no claim shall lie on the demolition of the said structures and that the full judgment shall be enforced without recourse to any mediation. The offer was to exist for two weeks to be accepted.

That offer did not simmer down the tense situation that has been building up relating to the said ownership dispute of the land. The situation became so tense and violent whenever the court order was to be executed to such an extent that the Ministry of Lands has to intervene.

It was understood by this medium that recently the Minister of Lands, Dr.Turad Senessie engaged both parties to the dispute and categorically told the illegal claimants that the land belongs to Seidya Group (SL) Ltd. He advised them to accept the offer informing them that if anything befalls them he will have nothing to do with it

As of now the situation is relatively peaceful and efforts are being made to engage the trespassers to accept the aforementioned offer inter alia given to them by Alimu Sanu Barrie. Indisputably by all indications the rightful owner of the piece of land is Seidya Group (SL) Limited.

More on this as events unfold….


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