Increasing role of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in Land Grabbing

Many Sierra Leoneans are increasingly worried about the laisser faire attitude of government and the Ministry of Defence to address the rampant and unnecessary involvement of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in land grabbing related activities in the country.
It is quite glaring that the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces which is receiving so much support from the British tax payers in terms of training and capacity building has choose to involve itself so widely in land grabbing land in various parts of the country.
The activities of a very few members of the RSLAF causing grievous bodily harm and in some instances killing innocent Sierra Leoneans is worrisome for the integrity of the army.
For example in Waterloo in the Western Area Rural District, a good number of known army personnel attached at the Benguema Barracks are engaged in a controversial land issue at Jorpoh Farm.
A lot of public order act issues have emerged at Jorpoh farm putting the lives of the residents of those areas in jeopardy and danger.The Police at Waterloo with their little resources have not been able to quell the disturbances due to the magnitude perpetrated by the soldiers.
Various findings have showed that this large acreage of land at Jorpoh farm belongs to the King Family.
The army personnel have become so recalcitrant that they have refused to leave the land.They have openly perpetrated mayhem at the area scaring away innocent citizens.
The Ministry of Lands,the Office of National Security have all failed to address the issue and our sources say very senior military officers have failed to act just because they have been promised land by ‘OKORTOR’ the main military personnel claiming to be the owner of the large acreage of land at Jorpor Farm Waterloo.
‘Okortor’ serving military personnel of the RSLAF have fearlessly pursued his ambition to grab the Jorpoh farm land and nobody has challenged him on that.
Various organisations such as the Sierra Leone Bar Association and many member of the Bar have also expressed their dismay over the way and manner the Minister of Lands, Dr.Sandy is using the military to execute illegal land operations in the country.
These activities have been expressed to have grave human rights consequences for the various land owners involved.The Police is most times overwhelmed to effectively deal with these issues leaving the citizenry to bear the brunt of these military aggressions.
The Military high command has failed to act even with these accompanying human rights abuses perpetrated by the military.This is sending a very bad signal to a highly dedicated military that is working very hard both nationally and internationally to uplift the morale of the army.
The new Chief of Defence Staff ,Rtd Brigadier Kellie Conteh while going through Parliament was squeezed on the increasingly role of the Army in land grabbing.He had assured MP’s that he will take very strong measures to address the issue.
But as it stands, the Minister of Lands is still using the army at the detriment of the tax payers and several land grabbing issues by serving military officers such as in the Jorpor farm case and quite recently at Crossing Six Mile are alive and kicking.
The ISAT British Team/contingent in the country should be concerned about the state of affairs perpetrated by a very few Military Officers against innocent civilians.
The Military High Command should stop assigning military personnel to the Minister of Lands if they are not sure about how his ministry utilizes these officers.
The Minister of Lands should be able to use the OPERATIONAL SUPPORT DIVISION of the Sierra Leone Police to execute his court orders if any.

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