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Over Land Dispute…

Lands Ministry may face contempt of court

August 2, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

Lawyer Christopher J. Peacock, solicitor representing one Alie Mohamed Skaikay in a land dispute against the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment in the High Court, has threatened to institute contempt action against officials at the minister.

Lawyer Peacock made the above threat in a letter dated 27th July 2017, addressed to Barba B. Fortune, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment,             which is in reply to a letter from the ministry pertaining to a land issue that is already in the High Court.
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“At present my client has instituted civil proceedings in the High Court of Sierra Leone, and it is most prudent that you and your colleagues abstain from stifling the course of justice, lest I shall be tempted to institute contempt proceedings against your good self, the Minister, the Director of Surveys and Lands and Henry O. Macaulay without further recourse to you all,” the letter stated.

The letter further pointed out the legal implication of granting Alie Mohamed Skaikay a fresh lease, stating that previous leaseholders did not comply with the terms and conditions set by the ministry in their respective letters of offer and leases, which he said accelerated the legal necessity to create a fresh lease in favour of Mohamed Alie Skaikay.

The letter states that Alie Mohamed Skaikay fully complied with the terms and conditions of a fresh lease agreement that culminated to the ministry offering him a freehold interest, and that the purchase price was duly paid into the government’s consolidated fund.

“Your ministry cannot unilaterally cancel my client’s lease when he has not breached same and currently has bought the freehold interest and invested colossal sums of money in developing same to the knowledge of top personnel in the ministry,” the letter further stated.

Lawyer Peacock’s letter came after the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment had earlier written to his client on 21st July 2017 informing him that the said piece of land belongs to another individual.

The ministry’s letter signed by Barba Fortune, Permanent Secretary of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, referenced a previous document from the said ministry dated 22nd August 2016 reiterating that the lease offered to Mohamed Alie Skaikay was done in error.

The letter further stated that there was an existing lease of the said property that had not been determined, adding that, as a result, the lease to Mohamed Alie Skaikay was invalid.

“I write to inform you that Henry O. Macauley, the lessee of the above mentioned land, has been instructed by this ministry to continue in possession of the said land,” the letter from the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment stated.

It was further stated in the letter that Mr. Macaulay was required to continue in possession of the said property.

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