Friday, June 29, 2007

President Kabbah Crumbles Dr. Abass Bundu and Two Others......Seized Four Houses

Constitutionally, president Kabbah’s executive power ended on the 14th May, 2007 and has since that date remained a care-taker president as provided for by the 1991 constitution until a new President elect.

From the 14th May, 2007 to the handing over date by the outgoing president is subject to legal scrutiny and prolong battle that would require the intervention of the Supreme Court for interpretation.

On Thursday 21st June, 2007 the Minister of Lands and Country Planning, Dr. Bobson Sesay under the directive of the outgoing President laid before Parliament a bill titled compulsory acquisition which seek to forcefully retrieve assets of certain individuals including Dr. Abass Bundu, Sanie Sesay and Lawyer Arnold Gooding.

Among the assets earmarked by the outgoing President for immediate seizure by a warrant which has already been signed by him on Friday 22nd 2007 to be executed this week includes, the Former Governor’s Lodge leased by Lawyer Arnold Gooding in 1982 and a freehold already paid for. In a letter dated 12th January 1983 sent to Lawyer Gooding by the Director of Surveys and Lands reads thus, ..I am to refer to your letter ajbg/gh/g/82 of 28th October 1982 on the subject of leasing what was Governor’s Beach Lodge Sussex village and to confirm that his Excellency has given the necessary clearance for the Honourable Minister of Land’s Housing and Country Planning to offer you a lease of this premises on the following terms, which have been carefully considered…a) A period of 5 years with effect from 1st January 1983. b) The rent to be Le200.00 per annum and, c) There should be an option to purchase the free holding of the land after developing.

Subsequently, during the period of developing the land Lawyer Gooding having fulfilled the conditions of the lease was granted a freehold which was paid for in 1983, a conveyance was prepared and signed by the Honourable Minister of Lands and Country Planning by then, Mr. Ibrahim M’baba Kamara and registered in Volume 72 page 45 of the books of the Administrator and Registrar Generals.

The case against Lawyer Arnold Gooding orchestrated in certain quarters for the forfeiture of this property is that he had acquired the Former Governor’s Lodge improperly.

While Lawyer Arnold Gooding may be thinking of any possible action to contest what some legal analysts described as inappropriate, Dr Abass Bundu who switched over to the SLPP to save his skin is also contemplating similar actions for two of his assets to be forfeited in the next few days.

Among Dr. Bundu’s assets are the Diamond Corporation Flats at Spur Loop and the building at 28 Walpole Street in Freetown.

Already, the matter between Dr. Abass Bundu and the Government of Sierra Leone is in the Appellate Court when a new twist into the matter had surfaced.

However, in a letter dated 13th February, 2007 written by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to the outgoing president, Mr. Carew advice thus, “…I have therefore come to the conclusion that the best of all the evils involved that would ensure the immediate legal recovery and possession of the said properties is by compulsory acquisition as required by Section 21 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 (Act No 6 0f 1991) and the Public Lands Act 1960 Cap.116 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960, in which case those contesting the claim of the Government will be oblige to take Government to Court and the manner of their acquiring Government properties will determine what compensation, if any to be paid to such persons…” part of the document reads.

The allegation against Dr. Abass Bundu is not different to that of Lawyer Arnold Gooding… “He had acquired the property in an improper manner”

Mr. Sanie Sesay of the APC is another victim of the compulsory acquisition bill passed in Parliament last Thursday. According to documentary evidence he sold to his wife “The Residence of the Chief Justice at Hill Station” for Three Thousand Leones while he was Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning.

This matter is also at the Appellate Court for hearing when this ugly development took place last week.

It is not known what prompted the action from President Kabbah since the matters are in court. In the case of Lawyer Arnold Bishop Gooding, interpretations are different, others are attributing the action of the outgoing President as improper and illegal considering the period of acquisition to this latest action, legal pundits are saying that both constitutionally and on the face of the law is wrong “It is a show of political might, although his executive power is no more legitimate and has ceased to exist on the 14th May, 2007” Remarked a Supreme Court Judge.

STANDARD TIMES PRESS SIERRA LEONE Pres Kabbah Crumbles Dr. Abass Bundu and Two Others......Seized Four Houses PAGE