Ex-principal lands officer ends defence in Waa Juwara & Co trial

Friday, July 10, 2015
The former principal lands and valuation officer at the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, Hamidou Jallow, yesterday ended his evidence-in-chief in the trial involving him and two others, before Principal Magistrate Modou M.S. Jallow of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

The other accused persons are Lamin Waa Jawara, former Minister of Regional Administrations, Lands and Traditional Rulers, and Tamsir Onasis Conteh, a local businessperson.

Continuing his testimony, Jallow told the court that regarding plots C8 and C9, during the course of the meeting all the officials in that meeting gave their views.

He said the then Minister of Local Government and Lands made a directive that the first accused person, Tamsir Onasis Conteh, should maintain the two plots C8 and C9 because the said lands belonged to him.

He said there was no other file to show who the land belonged to, adding that it had been taken for three months without claim from any partner.

He said as principal lands and valuation officer, the accused person had fulfilled all the conditions stipulated in his letter of allocation and ownership because he had made all the necessary payments required of him.

Therefore, he added, he was qualified to maintain the said lands as the rightful owner after paying all his dues, including survey fees.

He also said as principal lands and valuation officer, his work included assignments and all other official work given to him by the director.

He said the role of the alkalolu was very crucial in land issues, because the alkalolu are the ones who are able to help or decide who own land, and all other agencies rely on the alkalolu for the title deeds and in customary lands matters.

He pointed out that with respect to all payments, the said money is in the state’s coffers, and he also developed the two plots, adding that based on these reasons the then minister asked the accused person to maintain the two plots.

He added that another reason was because there was no claim from the two parties, Basirou Sambou and Kanilai Family Farms.

Under cross-examination, the third accused person, Lamin Waa Jawara, asked the witness who was the director of lands at the said ministry when his immediate predecessor, Pierre Tamba, approved plots number C8 and C9 for the first accused person, Tamsir Onasis Conteh, in 2011.

Jallow, in reply, told the court that Malang Jatta was the director of lands at that time.

Further cross-examination continues 16 July 2015.

Author: Bakary Samateh
Source: Picture: Lamin Waa Juwara