by Mahmud Tim Kargbo

5th September 2021

A dispute over whether the beneficiaries of a specific plot of land at 8 Upper Savage Square, in the East End of Freetown, are willing to sell their property to Mariatu Bangura who’s a poor trader, has led many right minded people in Sierra Leone to ask why a beneficiary that initially agreed to sell a specific property with other beneficiaries, after the entire transaction, went to court to stop the Third Party from acquiring her newly purchased property.

Mariatu Bangura was approached by the beneficiaries of the property situated at 8 Upper Savage Square that they want to sell the said property. She registered her interest and seek the legal advice of her lawyer ( Elvis Kargbo Esq) to do due diligence before the transaction fully commenced. The lawyer went ahead fact-checking all necessary documentation, Mariatu Bangura and her family members negotiated the price with the beneficiaries. She then paid the agreed amount through her lawyer to the beneficiaries lawyer. Unfortunately, even after the agreed amount was paid to the beneficiaries by Mariatu Bangura’s lawyer, she wasn’t allowed to take possession of the said property by one Baby Dora who’s claiming under one of the four beneficiaries.

As an innocent Third Party and a law-abiding national, Mariatu Bangura instructed her lawyer to seek redress through the court. The lawyer went ahead and instituted legal proceedings against Baby Dora to gain possession of the said property. Court order by Magistrate Hannah Bonie ruled that all other occupants of the said property must leave, but Baby Dora must stay in her own apartment. Dissatisfied with Magistrate Hannah Boni’s court order, was Baby Dora, whose lawyer went ahead and filed a motion to prevent Hannah Boni’s judgment from been effected on the grounds that the occupants then were her tenants.

Baby Dora’s, motion against Magistrate Hannah Bonnie’s judgment was assigned to Magistrate Cowan who ordered all occupants of the said property (Baby Dora included) to vacate the said property and give possession to Mariatu Bangura. On two separate occasions, bailiffs went there to affect the order, but Baby Dora and her team took the law into their hands and decided to put up a fight. This happened despite the fact that the beneficiaries lawyer (James Momodu Fornah Sesay Esq), on 16th January 2014, had officially communicated to Baby Dora’s lawyer (Musa Pious Sesay Esq) informing him that the said property had long since being sold to an innocent Third Party, with the concurrence of all parties connected to the said property”. The official correspondence to Baby Dora’s lawyer added, “the sum of Forty Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Leones (42,500,000) is readily available for his clients, as their own share of the proceeds of the sale of the said property”.

On Wednesday, 23rd November 2020, the High Court of Sierra Leone finally ruled giving full and vacant possession of the property to Mariatu Bangura. An application to renew the order granted by Magistrate Cowan was made by Mariatu Bangura’s legal team and was granted by the High Court judge. Bailiffs went and handed vacant possession to Mariatu Bangura. Baby Dora’s lawyer then filed an application challenging the renewal order. However, his application after bailiffs affected the order and gave full possession of the said property to Mariatu Bangura was struck out.

The judgment of the High Court which states: “Full and vacant possession of all the property situate at No. 8 Savage Square, Freetown in the Western Area of the Republic of Sierra Leone”; deals with several significant procedural issues as well as with the problem of who was the rightful owner of the disputed property after Mariatu Bangura’s lawyer paid the agreed amount of the said property to the beneficiaries lawyer. The High Court Judge eventually found in favour of Mariatu Bangura, but in reaching that decision the court described some of the enormous problems involving in adjudicating property ownership disputes from beneficiaries in Sierra Leone. These problems included hopelessly confusing and inaccurate records of ownership after a specific beneficiary initially agreed to sell her property and later went to the court to regain possession of the same to punish the Third Party; and a failure by the courts to prosecute people who genuinely sold the property to a specific buyer and use the court to regain the same property after the buyer already satisfied her own part of the bargain.

The judgment makes it clear just how impossible the situation has become and how serious it is that property beneficiaries that agreed to sell their property cannot easily use the court to regain the same property and unnecessarily punish the bonafide purchaser.

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