In most cases or in all cases, those who fight over such a land all seem to possess the same land document, signed by the same official of the Ministry of Lands and also signed by the same Area chief or same lawyer. Sometimes ten people can claim to be the owner of the same piece of land.
Claimants of such lands engage in deadly battles. Some use members of their families to attack the other party, while others hire thugs to attack the other party. Those who do not want to engage in such lawless battles use fetish to either kill his opponent with witch gun or give him a sickness which medical doctors from the best Medical Schools in the world would never be able to diagnose.
Other claimants, who do not want to resort to the use of fetish, threaten the other in his face that if he dares come to the land again he will kill him and would not mind the consequences. For some claimants they prefer to physically attack an intruder of their lands to using any of the methods mentioned.
The fighting over these lands usually end in courts after passing through the police who could not do much. Such cases are reported daily at our police stations where both parties are never appeased. The cases are sent to court in a jiffy where judges and magistrates adjourned them ad infinitum. In the process, claimants or defendants die without judgment on the cases because of the ineptitude of our judiciary.
Though a plaintiff and a defendant produce the same land documents or different land documents, our magistrates and judges frustrate both parties.
Government, on the other hand, seems to be treating land issue in Sierra Leone with levity. It sits and sees such cases daily without making any statement.
In other countries, Government is serious about how its citizens acquire a plot of land. When a person shows interest in a piece of land, the owner of the land sells it with the consent of Ministry of Lands and Area Chiefs who guarantee that such a land has not been sold to another person. Also, before starting to build, officials of Ministry of Lands will come and do a survey and tell the new land owner the house should be built in an estate fashion and there should be an access road.
However, in Sierra Leone, Chiefs collude with officials of Ministry of Lands and land owners to sell the wrong land to a potential land owner. The chiefs and officials of Lands sell to somebody the same plot of land they know they have sold to somebody else before.
Most of the victims of such battle-ground lands are those who are staying abroad. For some, they send money to relatives and friends to buy land for them, but only find out later that the land has been sold to somebody else. Some relatives squander the money their nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, daughters send to buy land. Therefore when they return from abroad, they are amazed to know that the land they sent money for is not theirs.
Others are aware that such a land has been sold to somebody else, but they prefer the land because they know they will either use political influence to cow the other party or bribe judges and magistrates to frustrate the other party by continuous delays or adjournments of the case.
Many people have become victims of these land fraudsters especially in the big cities of Sierra Leone. Most people lost huge amount of money to these land fraudsters and inconsiderate chiefs who love land money more the God.
Housing is a very important development programme of any country. It is because of usurious house rents that everybody is eager to acquire a land and build a house. Most people fear the unknown after retirement, though some of them are using OAU houses, but collect rents in dollars for their houses. Those who are yet to get house, are doing anything to build a house; by hook or by crook.
Government must not be seen to give a blind eye to these incessant land disputes across the country. Government must take appropriate measures to remedy this menace. It must summon, land owners, Area Chiefs, officials of Ministry of Lands and magistrates and judges to stop killing people because of land which they will never go with when they die.
Government must not be seen to allow disputes over plots of lands which have been sold by the same chief/s and signed by the same official of Ministry of Lands. Chiefs must keep record of all lands sold and they should first visit a land which somebody is interested in to make sure it had not been sold to another before issuing receipt/s.
In addition, Government must work out modalities to ensure that development is sustainable in Sierra Leone if appropriate and firm decisions are not taken to avert this menace. Land acquisition and housing must be serious business to New Direction.
Government can use most state lands to build affordable Low Cost Houses all over the country to stop these land fraudsters and notorious chiefs and unscrupulous officials of Ministry of Lands from double dealings in the sale of lands.