By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Hamidou Jallow, one time Principal Lands and Survey Officer at the Department of Lands and Surveys and second defence witness (DW2), yesterday, 19 August, continued with his defence before Principal Magistrate Momodou S.M. Jallow of the lower court in Banjul, in the ongoing criminal trial that involves him, Tamsir Onasis Conteh and Waa Juwara, former minister of lands.Further cross-examining Mr. Jallow, State Counsel Mansour Jobe asked him whether he could recall the meeting he attended with the third accused (Waa Juwara) and other officers from the ministry of lands.
The witness responded in the positive.
“It is also correct that the meeting was held after you were informed by Malamin Jatta then Director of Lands that plot number C8 and C9 respectively were committed to one Basirou Sambou and Kanilai Family Farm?” asked State Counsel. “Yes,” responded Dw2.
“And is it also correct that in that meeting it was resolved that the allocation made to the first accused on C8 and C9 be revoked?” “Yes.”
“It is also correct that revocation of allocation noticed was finally noted to the first accused person thereby reverting plot Nos. C8 and C9 back to their allocators (Basirou Sambou and Kanilai Family Farm)?” “Yes,” responded Dw2, adding that there were subsequent meetings held regarding the issue of allocations to consolidate the issue.
DW2 said the two mentioned parties who were allocated the said plots violated the conditions of allocation stipulated in their letters on the condition of allocation.
Mr. Jallow further told the Court that the conditions attached to the allocations include the payments of survey, allocation fees and land premium and that failure of which tantamount to automatic withdrawal without notification. He added that the allocation made to Mr. Basirou Sambou was in 2006 and until October 2012, he had never paid his fees for land allocation, survey fee as well as land premium.
“For six years, he has never laid a single cement block for that matter on that piece of land,” said the witness.
Continuing, DW2 further told the Court that the first accused person who was compensated with this plot put a chain of officials within the two departments at the ministry of lands i.e. Department of Lands and Surveys and the Department of Physical Planning and Housing and the ministry felt satisfied that the first accused person’s compensation issue was genuine thus leading to the final allocation of those two plots to the first accused.
At this juncture, state counsel Jobe interjected and argued that the witness should limit his answer to the question asked by the prosecution.
The trial magistrate, however, maintained that the witness should be allowed to answer to the best of his ability, adding that if the question asked is detail then obviously the witness’ answer is expected to be the same.
Continuing, the witness testified that the first accused made payments for his land allocations, survey fees as well as premium which, he said, are huge amounts paid into government coffers. He added that the first accused went further to develop the said plots with a solid fence.
The former Senior Principal Land and Surveys Officer told the court that the late Malamin Jatta (former director) was instructed by one of the former ministers to bring forward the Kanilai Family Farm file for re-allocation at several meetings. He said this was the reason that led to the re-allocation of the two plots to the first accused person because he had developed them.
“One of the plots was already assigned to another person and which was approved by the then minister, Mr. Pierre Tamba,” said Dw2.
“Mr. Jallow, do you agree with me that you and the third accused person knew that plot Nos. C8 and C9 were committed?” asked the State Counsel. “I was only aware of Basirou Sambou’s allocation,” responded Mr. Jallow.
“Do you want to tell this court that you were not told by the late Malamin Jatta that plot C9 was never allocated?” “Yes.”
“I put it to you that you were told by Malamin Jatta that plot number C8 and C9 were allocated.” “I was just informed at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) office indicating that it was an allocation made to Kanilai Family Farm when I had already been dismissed.”
Mr. Jobe further quizzed “Will you be surprised that you stated in your statement that Malamin Jatta informed both yourself and the third accused person that the plots were already committed and you insisted that documentary evidence must be provided to that effect?” “Yes,” Dw2 replied. He added “I never insisted because I have superiors.”
“Is it therefore correct that Mr. Jatta can be a privy to an allocation to somebody else without your knowledge?” “No,” DW2 responded.
“Is it therefore correct that since Malamin Jatta was aware of the allocation to plot number C9 to Kanilai Family Farm you were also aware?” asked the state counsel. DW2 responded in the negative.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to 27th August for continuation of cross-examination.
Prior to the adjournment of the case, the defence attorney for Mr. Jallow Abdulai Sisohor informed the court that he has made an observation that the words allocation and committed are use inter-changeably. The state counsel responded that the issue of observation cannot be raised at that stage, adding that it is left to the defence to object.
An argument and counter argument ensued between the state and defence counsels, until the court intervened to state that the defence’s observation was indeed proper.
The matter was subsequently adjourned.