By Mamadou Dem
Saikou Sanyang, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands and Regional Government and sixth prosecution witness in this case, yesterday told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court that due to insufficient evidence from the then Director of Lands, late Malamin Jatta, the first accused was compensated with a piece of land situated at the Tanji layout.
According to the witness, the third accused (Waa Juwara), being the then Minister of Local Government, Lands and Traditional Rulers, in a meeting held on the 19th of September, 2012 ruled that in the absence of sufficient evidence from the Director that the plot was committed, the file was re-activated and compensation was restored to the first accused, Tamsir Onasis Konteh.
Continuing with his evidence in-chief, Mr. Sanyang told the court that he knew about the Tanji Residential Layout in which there is a commercial strip or zone facing the main road to Banjul.
According to the witness, the Tanji residential layout was prepared by government and allocated to deserving Gambians in 2001 or thereafter; adding that acquisition of the said area emanated from the recommendations of the 1997 Robin Corker Commission of enquiry into ‘assets’ acquired by Public Officers. He said after the layout was done, it was allocated to the general order but some plots were given to local authorities such as the ‘alkalo’ (Village head) as compensation.
“Precisely I don’t know how much,” said the witness.
Mr. Sanyang further informed the court that provided the land was a customary land, the individual or claimant will forward to the registry of land to give dateline for consideration of compensation after which the Department of Lands and Surveys will then advise the Ministry whether to allocate land or not. He said those entitled or eligible for compensation are those with authentic confirmation documents from local authorities of the area (Alkalo).
When asked by State Prosecutor, Mam Jobe as to how these people were compensated, the witness responded that it was based on the advice from the state land’s department, a compensation package wasprepared and forwarded for approval. He said the application made by Tamsir Onasis Konteh (1st accused) was in respect to a land he inherited in the Tanji residential layout; adding that Mr. Konteh was seeking for compensation and based on the documents he surrendered he was compensated in the commercial zone, Tanji layout until his leased document was prepared for him.
PW6 disclosed to the court that upon Malamin Jatta’s return from leave as Director, he indicated that the plots were committed and that they should not be given to the first accused. He said as a result of Jatta’s observation, compensation was revoked. He reveals that on the 19th of September, 2012 at a meeting held in the Minister’s office, the 2nd and 3rd accused person, Hamidou Jallow and Lamin Waa Juwara including senior officers from the department of lands and survey and physical planning, the third accused being the then minister ruled that in the absence of sufficient evidence from the Director that the plot was committed, the file was re-activated and compensation restored to the first accused.
At that juncture, Abdulai Sisohor, counsel for the accused persons applied for an adjournment due to engagements at the superior court and the matter was subsequently adjourned to July 14th for continuation.