By Muhammed Sailu Bah
He was fined D5000 for using Maka village land and obstructing livestock from using it as pathway. He was fined another D1000 for pulling down 2 pillars erected by the Village Development Committee. The complainants claim that the land was designated as pathway for livestock but the defendant Alkalo claim that the land is his property. He also denied that he pulled down two of the erected pillars. The findings of the tribunal are that he pulled down the pillars and the land was designated as pathway for livestock.
It was not clear whether or not the trial was criminal because of lack of adherence to the procedures of the Criminal Procedure Code. However, from the pronouncements of the tribunal it seems the case was treated as a criminal case.
The Tribunal was presided over by Fabakary Nana Sonko Chief of Lower Nuimi, and included five court members.
The Judgment was read on behalf of the Tribunal by Sanna Sonko. According to the judgment, the tribunal has listened to all parties as well as all witnesses who came to testify.
Sanna Sonko said, “Today is your Judgment and is the third time we have sittings on this matter and the court after listening to both parties as well as witnesses has found the accused person Guilty and the court based it on the following reasons.
- All witnesses testified on Oath.
- We know that the Plaintiffs Ousman Ceesay is a native of Maka village, Ebrima Bah is the Chairman of the Livestock Farmers Association and Balla Manneh the Plaintiff is the Alkalo of Maka village.
- We also understand that during the Demarcation of the Land Balla Manneh the accused was present, the two ‘plaintiffs’ and other members of the village as well as representatives from the Chief of Lower Nuimi. And also the Pathway that was demarcated was an old way for Livestock used as a pathway in reaching the main bush.
- The plaintiffs brought witnesses but the Accused Balla Manneh never brought any.
- We also know that the Livestock Association in close collaboration with the Village Development Committee of Maka Village erected Pillars and the 2 pillars that were pulled down were found at the Alkalo’s Farm (the Accused).
- The pathway is for the benefit of everyone and we are not looking at a person’s interest but the interest of all.
- Pastoral Farming is part of agriculture and agriculture is the backbone of the economy of our country and it comprises different aspects which include animal rearing. This is of great concern and will never be compromised.
“Balla is found guilty and we will give Balla a chance to plead for mercy before we announce the sentence.”
Balla then told the tribunal that the only thing he is appealing to the tribunal to do is to return the land back to him for him to be using it for farming. He added that the land was given to him by 2 chiefs in the year 2000.
Balla further requested for a copy of the Judgment from the tribunal to facilitate his appeal to the high court but the tribunal refused pointing out that they will not give him a copy of the Judgment unless it is requested by a high court, when he (Balla) appeals. The tribunal reiterated that their Judgment stands and Balla has to abide by it.
The Tribunal told Balla that hence forth the Law has taken the land from you for the Livestock to use as a pathway.
At this stage the Tribunal pronounced a fine of D5000 or in default to serve 5 months in prison for using the land. The Tribunal further ordered the payment of a fine of D1000 for pulling down the pillars to be used for re-erecting the pillars in default to serve one month in prison.
The court further ordered that the fines be paid on the spot, and warned Balla not to use the land anymore, likewise any other person in the village. The Tribunal said the Land is mainly for livestock to be used as a pathway.
The Tribunal said if by any chance Balla has used the land the Law will take its due course and the Tribunal will further question Balla’s capabilities of being a leader or an Alkalo.
Balla at that Juncture told the Tribuanl he wants to plead for mercy on the fine, but the Tribunal told Balla that it is late. Later Balla’s elder sister Fatou Manneh pleaded to the members of the Tribunal on behalf of Balla for them to give her time to pay the Money on Monday 15 June 2015, but The tribunal refused. The Tribunal later issued a warrant of arrest for Balla to be taken to Barra police station.
Balla was later escorted to the Barra police station by two of the Tribunal security personnel. Later a Family member paid the fine for Balla and he was released.
This case arose on the heels of a case in which Balla complained to the same tribunal that Ebou Jobe fell the cashew trees that he cultivated on his land. Ebou Jobe, while admitting that he felled down the cashew trees claimed that the land belonged to him. Even though the tribunal fined him D3000 they gave Jobe title to the land.