Gov’t urged to avert “bloodshed” in fresh Kerewan, Taibatou land dispute

Gov’t urged to avert “bloodshed” in fresh Kerewan, Taibatou land dispute

The government has been urged to act to avoid “possible bloodshed” in a land dispute between Kerewan and Taibatou villages in the Wulli West District, Upper River Region (URR). 

Kerewan and Taibatou are neighbouring villages that share everything in common. They don’t only attend each other’s social gathering and other activities, but they also inter-marry. However, for the past years such relationship has ruined due to the on-going land dispute with each community claiming ownership.

The regional group tribunal court of URR presided over by Alhagie Jun Bah has ruled that the land in question belongs to Kerewan. The judgment was delivered on 8th of July 2012.

“The community of Kerewan is to obtain a sketch plan and certificate of ownership of farmland through physical planning unit in URR in order to avoid further land confrontation with the other communities.”

Meanwhile, The Point has also obtained a document from the Office of the Honourable Sheriff dated 3th May 2023 and addressed to the Inspector General of the Gambia Police Force.

The letter is titled:  ‘Formal complaint against trespassers in the matter of the people of Taibatou village Wulli West (by their representative Alhagie Yusupha Jabbi & ORS) vs. the People of Kerewan Nyakoi Wulli West by (their representative Basirou Sillah)’.

“By a judgement of the High Court as per Justice Z N. Mboob as she then was dated 1st day of February, 2023, gave possession of the suit land to the People of Kerewan Nyakoi. The said people of Kerewan Nyakoi were given possession in accordance with the writ of possession duly issued by the court.”

“It has come to the attention of the Sheriff of The Gambia that certain individuals including the people of Taibatou village are being or flouting the order of the court by interfering with the possession of land restored to the people of Kerewan Nyakoi, the respondent.”

“In this regard, I am lodging a formal complaint against the trespassers in the name of the people of Taibatou village.”

Karalang Jawneh, a native of Kerewan has told The Point that the land problem between the two villages started in 2012.

“This is something that has surprised me so much. Kerewan is the village that welcomed Taibatou here. It was our village and Madina that welcomed them. In fact, they were given farms by us and Sutukonding. From where our village is and up to the river side, we don’t share it with any community. Surprisingly, some years back, they just got up and said they want to do forest in our land. We were not even aware at the time they were processing the documents claiming that the land belongs to them and that they wanted to do it as a forest.”

“When the problem of ownership of the land started to escalate, the seven chiefs in URR sat over the matter. We have documents indicating that the land belongs to us. Again, all the seven chiefs in their judgment unanimously agreed that the land belongs to us. The judgment was based on the fact that our village got a evidence while Taibatou didn’t have any evidence to support their ownership claim,” he posited.

“Even after the judgment of the seven chiefs in URR which totally gave us the ownership of the land, the people of Taibatou were still working on the said land. We then decided to hire a lawyer who takes the matter to the Magistrate Court. The then Basse magistrate court in the person of Omar Jabang also ruled in favour of us (Kerewan). The magistrate claimed that he couldn’t pass or overturn the judgment of the district chiefs of URR.”×90&×507%2C0x0%2C735x280%2C735x280&nras=4&correlator=6016373179881&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=702569592.1684305231&ga_sid=1687443501&ga_hid=326944152&ga_fc=1&u_tz=0&u_his=5&u_h=768&u_w=1366&u_ah=738&u_aw=1366&u_cd=24&u_sd=1&dmc=2&adx=288&ady=2964&biw=1311&bih=668&scr_x=0&scr_y=293&eid=44759926%2C44759875%2C44759837%2C31071756%2C31075413%2C42531706%2C44788442%2C44794789&oid=2&psts=ABHeCvi_8a_D7ndHJs1L9cX_ZwH6jun5KYBHVDooS-PWbCo7ba8vK18E9AxWRYnmhevpZL–y-xXkCZ_OX-OTsyqFB956ZrB%2CABHeCvjRWdE2xjuNZrt1_Q9E5-IbK6Bk3yZgIkM6WfMMWdHgj1QEhkr8vFFk0qB2BJ4xB8YJDXBIkAdal07Goh1KZtI6uyKe&pvsid=1355489366026674&tmod=1890871012&uas=3&nvt=1&!6&btvi=3&fsb=1&xpc=7xDfffWt5H&p=https%3A// “The reason we are following the law is to ensure that we don’t have problem with them because we are all one people. We want to ensure that we have all the necessary documents that clearly indicate that we are the rightful owners of the said land.”

Mr. Jawneh added: “Despite the judgment made by the chiefs and the magistrate, the people of Taibatou were not satisfied with those verdicts. They also decided to take the matter to the Basse High Court. At the High Court also, the presiding judge ruled in favour of us (Kerewan). In fact, Taibatou was fined D50, 000.”

“Despite the ruling of the chiefs, the magistrate court and the high court, the people of Taibatou still wnet ahead and built a borehole at the disputed land. What is more painful is the fact that they are provoking us. When they are passing by, they would be insulting, and go with other weapons among others. However, we always advise our people to maintain peace and allow us the elders to continue using the right channel.”

Mbembanding Jabbi, the village alkalo of Taibatou, who was also contacted for comments, said: “Jawo, I am not going to speak further on the issue. What I can tell you is the fact that the forest belongs to us. We also have documents to prove that the forest belongs to us. Therefore, I am not going to talk further on it. If you want any information, you have to come here to Taibatou.”

Quizzed about the judgments made at the district tribunal in 2012 and the magistrates’ court, he said: “As I told you, I am not going to speak further on the issue. In fact, the chiefs’ judgment is not true. We also have a judgment that rules in our favour. We can’t show you the document we have in our possession unless you come here. We don’t even have a problem with the people of Kerewan for the fact that the forest belongs to us,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, the regional governor of Upper River Region (URR), Samba Bah, couldn’t be reached for comments at the time of going to press.  

Source: The Point

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