High Court Delivers Verdict In Kerr Mot Hali Case

By Yankuba Jallow

The Banjul High Court has delivered judgment in the trial involving residents of Kerr Mot Hali of Central River Region.

These people brought the action before Justice Aminata Ceesay-Saho of the Banjul High Court seeking for a declaration that they are all citizens of the Gambia who have right over their properties and have a right to return to the country because they have been deprived of their right over their properties in the village.

These people fled to a neighbouring village in Senegal when they were confronted by policemen who arrested and jailed many of them as well. This issue came about because of the renovation of a mosque after the death of the village religious leader, when the indigenes clashed with his family members from Senegal and the police joined in, causing them to flee because of fear of arrest.

The People of Kerr Mot Hali of Central River region have sued the Inspector General, Attorney General and two others in relation to the matter.

The applicants are Muhammed Bassirou Secka, son of the late leader Muhamadoul Habibulah Secka who represents the whole village, whilst the respondents are the Inspector General of Police, Attorney General, Sheikh Seck (the current Alkalo) and The Governor of Central River Region.

The appellants in their claim, said they were forced to flee from their village in 2009 and have been making efforts to return but were told by the police not to do so.  They seek a declaration that they own and have legal title over the land meaning they have entitlement to possession of their respective properties.

In addition, they sought for an order of injunction to restrain the Respondents and each of them, whether by themselves, their servants or agents or whosoever from dealing with, entering or remaining on, or alienating or otherwise interfering with the Applicants’ properties which are all situated in the village.

They sought for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the Respondents from preventing the Applicants from taking possession and occupying their respective properties which are all situated in the village of Kerr Mot Hali.

Furthermore, they sought for a declaration that the Applicants are entitled to assemble and gather in order to practise their religion and to manifest such practice in the village.

They also sought for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the Respondents from preventing the Applicants from practicing their religion in the village.

Finally they sought for a declaration that the Applicants are not to be discriminated against by any of the Respondents on account of their religion, culture and tradition and particular in the practice of their religion and in the manifestation of such practice.

The court held that the applicants as it can be gleaned from the affidavits, are all citizens of the Gambia and property owners at Kerr Mot Hali in Upper Saloum district of the Central River Region, a village believed to be founded in the year 1777 by one marabout named Mot Hali. The Appellants succeeded in all their pleas and the court made orders to the Respondents. The Court declared that the plaintiffs and each of them are Gambians and have a right to return to Gambia.

The court also declared that the Appellants and each of them at all material times, are the owners and are entitled to possession of their properties situated at Kerr Mot Hali and also it is their right to take their properties at the village that were taken from them compulsorily.

In addition, the Court issued an injunction restraining the Respondents, whether by themselves, their servants or agents or whosoever, from dealing with, entering or remaining, or alienating or otherwise interfering with the Appellants properties situated at Kerr Mot Hali.

The Court granted a perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents from preventing the Appellants from taking possession and occupying their respective properties at the Village, Kerr Mot Hali.

The Court declared that the Appellants are entitled to assemble and gather in order to practise their religion and to manifest such practise in the village, Kerr Mot Hali. The Court restrained the Respondents and granted the perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents from preventing the Appellants from practising their religion in the village.

The Court on the final order, declared that the Appellants are not to be discriminated by the Respondents on account of their religion, culture and tradition and particularly in the practice of their religion and the manifestation of such practice in the village.