By Ragan M. Conteh
More than a thousand residents of Rokel Community have been made homeless in the enforcement of an ejectment order believed to have come from the court. The order, a resident say, was enforced by police officers from different divisions in the Freetown east region.
The residents were never shown the court order during the eviction exercise prompting serious resistance which led to mass arrest and detention at various police stations. A great number of the residents were brutalised and hospitalised during the operations. Residents expressed dismay over the terror meted to them by the police who seemed to act under the court’s authority.
But, Head of police media, Superintendent Brima Kamara said the Police high command was not aware of the operation. Mr Kamara however does not rule out an investigation into such an operation. Alusine Bangura is one of the victims of last week’s eviction exercise.
In an effort to justify his stay on the land, Bangura explained that he bought his own portion of the land in 2012 from the family of Late Christian Alusine Kamara Taylor, late second Vice President of Sierra Leone without knowledge that the land was a disputed one.
After he had bought the land, Bangura went on; a verdict came from the court that the land was legally owned by one Yelaba Samura Kamara. The move by the Yeleba Family to get another payment from those who had paid to late CA Kamara Taylor for the disputed land breeds the controversy.
But, Bangura said they honoured the court order by paying the sum of Le20M to Aminata Samura and Mr Dumbuya, a member of the Yeleba Samura Family and a caretaker respectively. The Le20M is not part of the Le14M, Bangura said, they paid to the late Kamara-Taylor Family in purchase of the land in question.
The caretaker, Bangura said, had earlier warned them that anyone who wanted to buy the land should pay to the assigned persons apart from the first payment they made to the Kamara- Taylor Family.
“We are very surprised to see trucks of well-armed police officers including one lawyer to unleash mayhem, vandalise houses, throw away property worth millions in the rain,” Bangura complained. The heartrending aspect about the eviction, he said, they were neither notified about the operation nor informed about the Court order.
“This is disturbing. What perturbed me most is not only the eviction, but our properties destroyed by the police,” Bangura said.
“We have bought the property from the two families, and there is no empty land here again. People have constructed mansions, the manner in which we are treated is like we are not fit to own land in this country. We need justice and justice must be made prevail for the terror we faced under the rainy day,” he said in tears.
Bangura said although they had respect for the police, but their action was unfair to them as residents of Rokel.
Mohamed Mansaray is another victim of police brutality during the eviction exercise.
He said they had suffered several acts of thuggery in the hands of those accompanied by the police to their community.
Mansaray confirmed that he bought the land from the Kamara-Taylor Family and later from the Yeleba Samura Kamara family following the emergence of the court order.
Before making the second payment as a result of the court order in 2014, Mansaray went on, mosques and churches were also vandalised, house broken down, community centres and properties perished in 2014 the same way the police did last week. He said after the atrocities, they honoured the court order and paid the money to the Yeleba Samura Family.
“Why a member of the same Yeleba Samura Family called Mohamed brought again huge police personnel with bailiffs to vandalise properties after we have spent huge sum of money to construct houses,” he said.
“This is unfair to us as residents. We are above 500 in this community and we have been marginalised,” he said. Owing to the police eviction, Mansaray said, her mother collapsed, and was taken to the hospital. He is calling for a speedy investigation into the brutality meted to them by the police. A.B Sesay who has stayed in the community for countless years is a victim of the brutality.
Sesay rendered an account similar to the other victims saying that he bought the land from the CA Kamara Taylor family since 2010.
After the payment, he said, another Yelaba family rose again for the same land and other residents paid at that time.
“I am very disturbed. I feel intimidated and marginalised. I don’t even know where I am going to sleep because my house has been damaged, my property thrown out under the heavy rain” he lamented.
Sesay said the manner in which they were treated appeared as if the Yelaba Samura family had the intention to defraud them and damaged properties they had worked for years.