A small settlement in the Briwa Chiefdom, Bombali district, in northern Sierra Leone, is now a ghost town after the two ethnic groups that cohabit in the community - the Mandingos and Limba people - engaged in a violent clash over a farmland about two months ago which led to the burning down of nine houses and property worth millions of Leones destroyed.
Though tranquillity has now returned to the township of Manjoro One, its people say they are jittery about the manner in which state authorities handled the situation as some of their relatives who were charged to court for murder since the incident occurred are still in detention.
Narrating his ordeal in Manjoro One to Concord Times, one of the arrested persons who was later released by the police after five days in custody without any statement obtained from him, recounted that it all started on the 15th of July 2012.
Foday Fofanah said he was at the hospital when one Sheka Mansaray reported that some Limba people had attacked him at his farm and destroyed his crops.
Fofanah said while Mansaray claimed that one Salifu Sesay, a Limba, entered his farm and harvested some oil palms belonging to him without his permission which resulted into a scuffle, the nurse on duty on that day advised Mansaray to report the matter to the police.
"I accompanied him to the police station and he was given a medical form to go to the hospital. While at the hospital, some police officers stormed the building and accused him of having committed murder. He was arrested alongside one Foday Lamin. The police were looking out for me too so they called for reinforcement from Kamabai and a group of police men came and arrested me. I was handcuffed and dragged to the Kamabai police station," Fofanah said adding that his house was burnt down and property worth millions of Leones including 82 sheep and goats were carted away by the attackers.
"We are afraid to go and settle at Manjoro because of the incident," Fofanah said adding that since their colleagues were arrested and charged to court, the complainants have failed to attend thr court's sittings.
Youth Leader in the township, Abu Wulladeh, noted that there had been a build up to the dispute between the two ethnic groups which is related to a paramount chieftaincy election that created bitter feelings among members of the two groups.
"The Limbas always refer to us as strangers in this land. They always create problems for us," Wulladeh claimed.
It could be recalled that on the 12th of August 2007, a new Mandingo paramount chief was crowned in the Biriwa Chiefdom. The election was preceded by a dispute over eligible electors, a court injunction, a refusal by the National Electoral Commission NEC to oversee the elections and the Limba/Mandingo violence.
A native of Karina, Dr. Lansanah, said the Mandingo people were approved by the British colonial administration who considered paramount chiefs as custodians of their people.