Tension rises over land dispute in Wuli  West,URR

The Editor,
Freedom Newspaper Headquarters: Raleigh, NC.

Tension rises over land dispute in Wuli  West,URR.

Dear Editor,

I wish to bring to your attention the story below and request that you share with your respected readers so that the Government can take necessary step to avoid further violence.

Tension has risen again over land dispute between the Villagers of Banjonkoto and Banni in Nyakoi,Wuli west District. The land dispute between the two villages has been going on for nearly twenty years and still remain unresolved. However, the matter is currently before the Supreme Court of the Gambia which hopefully will serve justice without fear or favor.

The land in question is a swampy area used for rice cultivation by the people of Bajonkoto for many decades without any problem. It also has a fish pond which villagers in the area converge for annual fishing under the directive of Banjonkoto village as custodian of the pond. The rice fields were also cultivated extensively by both Wuli and Sandu during the Chinese rice project in the 80’s. Even though Bajankoto was the sole owner of the land,it has allowed other communities to farm on the land who always returned the plots of land allocated to them at the end of each season.  So there has never been any doubt that the people of Bajonkoto were the bonafide owners of all the pieces or parcel of farm land commonly referred to as Nyoronjo Farro in which the fish-pond is located.

However, around 2007/8, the Villagers of Banni claimed that they own the entire land in question. They then trespassed into the farm land, blatantly cut down so many trees planted by Bajonkoto Villagers. The incident was reported to police and those involved were arrested and prosecuted.

Furthermore, the District Tribunal in 2008 passed judgment in favor of Bajonkoto over the ownership of the fish pond. The people of Banni in total defiant of the ruling continued undermine justice by lobbying support from corrupt public officials in the previous regime to overturn the District Tribunal ruling on the matter. The people of Bajonkoto were painted as opposition sympathizers in the eyes of the former regime. Hence the then Governor of URR Mr Omar Khan, without any lawful authority, nullified the Group Tribunal ruling which further aggravated the dispute.  This was clear indication of injustice and official corruption  and abuse of authority a hallmark of 22 years dictatorship.

The people of Bajonkoto had always followed the rule of law even on the face of rampant provocation and trespasses by the people of Banni and subsequent intimidation by both Sarai Ngai and Basse police officers. We always prefer the due process of law and that’s why the incidences have never been reported on the front page of any newspaper so far.  However, recent trespasses by the people of Banni into our orchards and deliberately harvesting our mangoes leading to minor fracas between the two communities and the subsequent assault on our school children on their way to school may endanger the fragile peace between us. The people of Bajonkoto have been patient for too long and demand justice. We appeal to the authorities concerned to swiftly address the issue and ensure justice is done in the interest of peace in the region.
Thank you for your kind attention.

Yours Sincerely,

Kono Jabbi.

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