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Lorenzo Gorvie School Demonstrates Against Land Grabbers


Lorenzo Gorvie School Demonstrates Against Land Grabbers

Lorenzo Gorvie Memorial Secondary School in Waterloo has held a meeting with community stakeholders to demonstrate their anger against claims to their school land by bogus land grabbers.
The meeting which was attended by Local V.I.P.s and other citizens was chaired by a prominent civil society activist, Doris Webber who recently returned from attending the G7 meeting abroad that also dealt with land grabbing.
At the meeting which featured placard waving by more than 500 students various speakers expressed their disappointment with the Ministry of Lands that now has the final say in the matter.
Among various speakers were the Principal James Dawodu, parents, teachers and pupils of the school all of whom condemned the action of the land grabbers.
For the past 40 years the land in question which was Sierra Leone Railway land and some of its buildings had been leased from government and used first as the Rural Training and Commercial Institute. It was later named the Lorenzo Gorvie Memoral Secondary School after the founder who later handed it over to the United Methodist Church as a denominational school.
All of a sudden comes one Michael Wallace-Johnson with fake documents obtained from questionable officials of the Ministry of Lands claiming that the land was given to him by his late grandfather the Hon. I.T. A. Wallace Johnson. This claim by Mr. Wallace Johnson and Co. has resulted in sustained legal battles between the antagonists with the school authorities backed solidly by the U.M.C. and the Waterloo Community.
At one stage using questionable documents Michael Wallace-Johnson went to the extent of getting the Sierra Leone Police to issue a demolition order involving hundreds of police personnel.
That would have resulted in the loss of the school buildings and therefore the educational future of hundreds of students but for the timely intervention of the United Methodist Church by an appeal to the Inspector General of Police who ordered a stay of execution.
A new development is that part of the disputed land that was used by the Labour Department and later by the National Electoral Commission is being claimed by another potential land grabber, one Mr. Saidu Bangura, a Surveyor of the Ministry of Lands residing at Fire Mambo, Waterloo.
On the 12th of this month a local radio station in Waterloo devoted a whole hour to this land issue. Caller after caller damned the claimants and called for government to stand firm and not to allow the situation to slip out of their hands to imperil the future of thousands of would-be students and those unborn. The Principal used the occasion to appeal to local citizens to be in solidarity with the school to secure the future education of their children and wards.
While a decision on the matter is being awaited from the Ministry of Lands, the Principal of the school Mr. James Dawodu has made an impassioned appeal to the Parliamentary oversight Committee on Lands for their intervention.
Some callers on the radio programme stated above were wondering whether it would not be expedient for government to use its supreme executive authority in the public interest to allocate another state land to Michael Wallace Johnson and Co. granted that they in fact acquired the state land in question inadvertently. That’s the bottom line.

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