Residents of the Johnson community are reeling from the devastation following a massive land demolition that has sparked significant outcry. Churches, mosques, markets, and playgrounds have been demolished, with the land seized by individuals erecting perimeter fences. Reports indicate that the demolition was carried out with the aid of thugs and police officers.

The individuals identified in the controversy are Mammy Rens and Bob Bangura, who claim ownership of approximately 328 acres of land in the Bottom Mango area of Black Johnson. This claim has been met with widespread anger and sorrow among the villagers. “They have turned us into refugees in our own homeland,” lamented one villager, reflecting the sentiments of many who demand justice and the intervention of higher authorities to address the alleged seizure of their land.

The operation, conducted on Wednesday, May 22, and Thursday, May 23, 2024, was reportedly orchestrated by Mammy Rens and Bob Bangura. They employed over fifty armed thugs wielding machetes, broken bottles, and knives. These thugs, accompanied by trucks loaded with police officers, descended upon the community, using bulldozers to demolish structures. The destruction affected over 300 acres of land and impacted more than 300 private property owners, causing losses worth billions of Leones.

The Village Head, HM Stella, shared with the Concord Times that the land, which the community had inherited from their ancestors, is now being unlawfully seized. Among those accused of land grabbing is Major Tegeh Mansaray of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). However, when contacted, Major Mansaray denied any involvement, stating, “I am not the type that will intimidate civilians by virtue of my status as military personnel. Those who made the allegation got it wrong.”

In contrast, the lawyer representing the accused, Pa Momon Fofanah, provided legal documents from the High Court of Sierra Leone to the Concord Times. These documents indicate that the court ruled in favor of Bernice Kenner as the rightful owner of the land situated at Black Johnson, specifically at Peninsula Circular Road. The land was measured at 294.0059 acres in plot one and 38.2622 acres in plot two. The High Court’s rulings validated the ownership of the land delineated on Survey Plan marked L.S 335/65, attached to a Statutory Declaration dated June 20, 1968, and registered as No.11/68 at page 22 in volume seven of the Record Books of Statutory Declarations kept in the Office of the Registrar General in Freetown.

The bone of contention remains whether a private individual has the right to possess such a vast plot of land. Villagers argue that land reserved for essential community facilities, such as schools, is being seized unlawfully. Those possessing lands in the disputed area are acutely looking forward to government intervention through the Ministry of Lands and other authorities. The community’s plight highlights the urgent need for a resolution to this deeply contentious issue.