Accused of allegedly building on the right-off way and destroyed water well that serves Hospital Facility of Shepherd’s Hospice at Allen town
Shepherd’s Hospice Sierra Leone, a non-governmental organization, whose functions and responsibility covers on health, as well as advocacy for people with life threatening illnesses, last week Tuesday summoned a news conference expressing dissatisfaction and frustration over the action of the Deputy Director at the Office of National Security (ONS), Abdulai Caulker, on allegation of building stores on the right-off way and destroying water well facility of the said organization, thereby preventing them from accessing the facility as well as using their exit point .
Addressing journalists, Shepherd’s Hospice Executive Director, Gabriel Madiye, said the ONS Deputy Director is currently erecting a building along the SLRA right-off way and that the building in question had destroyed the water well facility of the organization and is preventing them from using their usual exit point .This, the Shepherd’s Hospice Executive Director stressed, was a violation of the country’s laws by a senior government official to undertake such a venture without going through the legal means. Madiye advanced his argument on indiscipline and lawlessness, which he said has been echoed by President Bio upon taking up office as President, stressing that such an act from a man whose work hinges on national security, is a threat to security. He added that the Shepherd’s Hospice building at Allen Town was demolished by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority in 2016, without any financial compensation, for the Wellington-Masiaka road expansion project.
‘’The demolition was ordered by SLRA in respect of the Wellington-Masiaka Road construction project with no compensation to us, but other affected property owners were compensated’’ Madiye said.
He informed journalists how the Deputy Director General at ONS has allegedly trespassed on the SLRA right-off way, thus depriving them from accessing the water well facility and using their exit. He added that SLRA, having realised that the area which the ONS Director had trespassed upon, is part of their right-off way, decided to send their workers, who then marked the building, but regardless of this action by the competent authority, work on the building project still continued.
It was disclosed that this construction work of the ONS Boss has seriously affected the operations of the Shepherd’s Hospice, as the well has been an optional source of getting water to serve the facility….
In a press release issued by the Shepherd’s Hospice, the organization expressed that;
‘’Shepherds Hospice is a home-based Non-Governmental Organisation that provides palliative care and treatment for people with life-threatening illnesses including HIV/AIDS, TB, and Cancer.
This health facility has suffered greatly from SLRA activities, which demolished the Health facility Buildings without financial compensation, and that of a top official in the Office of National Security (ONS), who is now grabbing the land and depriving the centre from one of the basic facilities, and practically rendering the building inaccessible to the public, who often go there to access medical attention.
Shepherds Hospice regrets to inform the Government of Sierra Leone, its partners, patients and the general public that the Hospice and Health Centre in Lower Allen Town was demolished in 2016, without the payment of financial compensation for the property.
The demolition, according to the Executive Director, Gabriel Madiye, was ordered by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) in the course of implementing the Wellington-Masiaka Road Expansion Project.
He said such actions affected their property and they are of the belief and understanding that SLRA should have compensated them, but to his dismay, other affected property owners were adequately compensated, without due consideration for a facility like the Hospice and Health Centre that caters for essential health care for vulnerable populations.
He noted that Shepherds Hospice has been struggling with the lack of care space for its estimated 570 patients on treatment, a top public official from ONS in the person of Mr. Abdulai Caulker, aka Avayama, has moved into the property without the knowledge of the management of Shepherds Hospice health facility, and in the process, demolished the facility’s water well and constructed a private dwelling house on the site of the water well, grabbing the SLRA Right of Way, and obstructing the health facility’s emergency exit.
Mr. Madiye stated that a report has been made to the Sierra Leone Police for malicious damage and grabbing of public property by a public official, adding that the SLRA and ONS have advised Mr. Caulker and his agents to stop work and report to the police for investigation.
He said that what surprised and shocked him the refusal of the ONS Director, Mr. Caulker, to respect the order and has continued with his construction on the public property for his personal gain. This, Madiye stressed is a clear example of abuse of office by the Deputy Director of the Office of National Security, and a deliberate attempt to obstruct any action by the Sierra Leone Police and SLRA to pursue justice.
He further noted that as he is speaking, the Deputy ONS Director is forging ahead with his construction work at the said site, albeit without any conveyance or lease agreement or building permit from the relevant ministry. He further disclosed that upon information in their possession, Mr. Caulker has instructed the two suspects in the criminal matter for malicious damage on the water well, not to report to the Mayemi /Allen Town Police Post, even when requested to do so by the police, but that they should present his complimentary card to them.
The Executive Director further stated that as a consequence of this obstruction, the SLP is unable to make progress in the investigation, since initial report on the malicious damage was made on the 25th January 2021. He furthered that construction work on the said building began in 2002 with funds from NaCSA /World Bank, United State Ambassador’s Self Help Fund and World Health Organisation.
‘’the abrupt closure of care of the health facility was due to SLRA’s road expansion activities which had forced our health team to relocate to the Macdonald Hospice and Health facility, which caters for patients with dire palliative care needs, requiring inpatient care. Sadly, not all the chronically ill patients could afford the transport cost needed to commute to the new centre, located some 20 kilometres away near Waterloo towards Kerry Town,’’ he maintained.
He said those patients who cannot afford transport cost have largely defaulted from treatment; with serious implications on public health.
‘’We have over the past few years held meetings with the Wellington/Masiaka Road expansion Project Management leadership at SLRA, but without any prospect of compensation for damages to the property of the Shepherds Hospice. Any attempt to persuade the SLRA management to understand this urgent need has been futile, imposing more suffering on our patients and their communities.
He however, revealed that the Shepherds Hospice has been in this state of waiting, when a group of persons led by one Mr. Lamin Kpaka, came into the property on 23rd January and damaged the water well and erected a dwelling house over it.
‘’This is the only source of water supply serving the health facility for drinking and Infection, Prevention and Control,’’ he stated.
According to the Executive Director, he call Mr. Abdulai Caulker on the phone and reported the damages to the well, to which he replied that the SLRA has compensated the Shepherds Hospice and that they should keep off the land.
As at press conference time he said all reports of malicious damage made to the Sierra Leone police have realized little or no action, adding that they are calling on the Government to engage Sierra Leone Road Authority to take action to pay financial compensation for the affected health facility in Allen Town to enable the Shepherds Hospice to rehabilitate the facility and return it to service delivery.
Secondly Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) should take pre-emptive measures that can protect the health facility’ s water well from further damage and contamination by Mr. Abdulai Caulker and his group of land grabbers. Thirdly, the Office of National Security should institute necessary investigations into an alleged case of abuse of office by Mr. Abdulai Caulker who has instructed his agents to maliciously damage the water well to the health facility and construct a dwelling House in a property that is SLRA Right of Way.
He said the Sierra Leone Police should effect action on the report for malicious damage made to their office since 25th January 2021, relating to the water well located in the Shepherds Hospice health facility in Lower Allen Town, Freetown.
The Executive Director said the Shepherds Hospice will continue to work with Government for the rule of law to assert itself as required under the 1991 Constitution and the relevant laws that guarantee human rights and freedoms.
He demands that persons and organizations working in the defence of human rights including, state and non-state actors, lend their support to their call for the Government to respect the laws and international conventions that guarantee social and economic rights of citizens. Without the return of health workers to the health facility to provide service for people living with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and cancer, these patients remain without access to care.
‘’We demand urgent action now,’’ he stated.
However, the Mayeni Police station, in a snap interview with the officers of the station, intimated that indeed they responded to the call and since then the ONS Deputy Director and the suspects refuse to honor their invitation. They added that efforts have been made to intervene, but the suspect had refused to adhere to the advice of their Boss Mr. Caulker.
The officers intimated that they have sent the complaint file to the regional headquarter office for advice, and since then, nothings has been done to mitigate the process.
Responding to the allegations, the Deputy Executive Director at ONS, Abdulai Caulker, claimed that the property at Allen Town is not on the right-off way. He added that part of the land that housed the building of the Shepherd’s Hospice belongs to his family. ‘’The land in question belongs to my family. I could remembered when the Executive Director of Shepherd’s Hospice approached my mother and her brother years back for them to allow him to use part of the land as garage. I gave permission to my mother and my uncle to allow the Shepherd’s Hospice to use part of our land. I did it without any official document. The land in question belongs to our family. What i cannot tell for now is that the documents for the land got burnt during the time my vehicle was set on fire by okada riders at berry street /model new road junction in 2012. Because of that incident, I lost all the documents, including my certificates, but I was able to secure the certificates through the Criminal Investigation Department Head office in Freetown. Also, I want to let you know I did not have any building permit to start that project, but what I am building now are stores, which I intend to use as my retirement business. But the matter has been reported to the police and we intend to meet and discuss so that the issue can be resolved.
By Mackie M. Jalloh