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Military officer testifies in alleged land saga

July 8, 2021

By Yusufu S. Bangura

First prosecution witness, Corporal 1881941 Paul James Williams, attached to Murray Town Military Barracks, yesterday testified in court in relation to an alleged land saga at No.2 River.

The witness testified that he recognized the accused persons in the duck and also knows the complainant (Tamba Dauda) through the Ministry of Lands.

He recalled on Saturday, 26th June, 2021, around 2pm while he was at No.2 River, together with his colleague (Morrison), he received a phone call from one of the beneficiaries of the land, who informed him that his boys have been attacked by some youth at the said land.

“Upon receiving such information, I and my colleague left for the scene. Upon arrival at the scene, I saw a large number of crowd comprising over 150 people, at the scene. Some were at the land while others were in the street. When I noticed that the youth were plenty, I called my boss (Colonel Konneh), Director of Lands and the current Minister of Lands, and informed them about the incident,” he testified.

He continued testifying that after sometimes, the 3rd accused (Abdu Aziz Koroma) and two others, instructed their boys to ‘disarm’ them.

He added that he later told his colleague to prepare his gun and the 3rd accused told his boys that they will not do anything so they should not be afraid.

“I also cock my gun but during the process one bullet fell on the floor and I picked it up and put it in my pocket. We were at the scene when my boss arrived with armed officers. As they saw my boss, the youth went away, but we were able to arrest the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th accused persons and took them to our deployment area,” he said.

He said the Director of Lands later arrived at the scene and led them to the 3rd accused’s residence where he was arrested with cutlass.

He further explained that when they went again to the scene, they entered into the bush and discovered that the accused persons have damaged 226 constructed bakings, one makeshift structure.

He noted that the land in question belongs to the Government of Sierra Leone.

The witness concluded that police officers obtained statement from him at his deployment area, No.2 River, Goderich.

During cross-examination by Lawyer C. Pujeh, the witness admitted that the land in question is over 200 acres and the items destroyed were constructed by one Mr. Sillah.

The witness further admitted that he was not shown any document to confirm that the land is a state land.

After his cross-examination, C.Pujeh applied for bail on behalf of his clients, noting that they are Sierra Leoneans residing in Freetown.

He further stated that the accused persons have reliable sureties that were willing and ready to enter into their recognisance.

He backed his application with Section 79(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act No.32 of 1965.

However, Magistrate Mark Ngegba at the Freetown Magistrate Court No.2 granted bail to the 1st, 4th, and 5th accused persons in the sum of 40 million Leones each, plus one surety each, who must be employed in Freetown.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Ngegba remanded the 2nd and 3rd accused persons because they were charged with serious offenses and adjourned the matter to the 14th July, 2021.

The accused persons, Ansu Sesay, Abubakarr Bangura, Abdul Aziz Koroma, Victoria Bangura and Moses Nyuma have made their first appearance before the court on five counts ranging from trespass, malicious damage, deforestation, among others.

Police prosecutor, Aminata Korio, alleged that the accused persons on Saturday, 26th June, 2021, at No.2 River, Goderich, Freetown,they unlawfully entered into a state land having warned not to do so.

Police further alleged that the 3th accused (Abdul Aziz Koroma) on the same date and place, maliciously damaged 226 constructed bakings valued Le12,430,000 property of the Ministry of Lands, and  also deforested 200 acres of stata land without licence or legal permit.

It also alleged that the 2nd accused (Abubakarr Bangura) was found with offensive weapon to wit cutlass without authority and the 1st, 4th and 5th accused persons behaved in a riotous manner.

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