Trial proceeded yesterday of Lamin Waa Juwara, former Minister of Regional Administrations, Lands and Traditional Rulers and two others, at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Acting-Principal Magistrate Lamin Mbai.
The other accused persons are Hamidou Jallow, Principal Lands and Evaluation Officer, at the said Ministry, and Tamsir Onasis Konteh, a local businessman.
The trial continued with the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Samba Sillah, a police officer and a member of the investigation team.
He was told by defence counsel Abdoulie Sissoho that the first accused person was compensated in 2005 and, therefore, the application for compensation was filed prior to that.
PW1 in response told the court that he was not aware of any application being filed by the first accused, Tamsir Onasis Conteh.
Asked whether he was aware of any other documents other than exhibits T1 and T2, PW1 said that the only file he saw was exhibits T1 and T2 for compensation.
Officer Sillah further adduced that both request files were all submitted by the first accused person, and not the second accused.
He added that the director of Lands, Momodou Lamin Jatta, indicated in his statement that he was not aware of the transactions in those files.
Defence counsel showed the witness exhibits T1 and T2 and asked him to confirm who were the people who minuted the file before the second accused person, and PW1 told the court that many officials from the said ministry handled the file, including the permanent secretary at the time.
Asked to mention the name of the technical staff who handled the file, PW1 told the court that the only person whose signature he could recognize was that of Lamin Waa Juwara and the then permanent secretary, Saihou Sanyang, but the other technical staff did not write their names, they only signed.
He said the second accused person did act contrary to exhibits T1 and T2 by minuting the file for facilitation, for the first accused person to be allocated plot C9, and as such he played a crucial role.
Responding to questions from lawyer L.K Mboge, officer Sillah told the court that Lamin Waa Juwara acted as a minister and went ahead and made the approval.
Asked whether he was aware that Pierre Tamba and Ismaila Sambou were never in court for any wrongful allocation of land at Tanji Layout, and why now the third accused person who was not in office at the time, PW1 responded: “Yes, that was correct.”
He admitted that the third accused person was not in office as Minister of Local Government and Lands, in 2011.
He said he was also aware that the third accused person was regional governor in Lower River Region in 2011.
PW1 also admitted that the third accused person did not have the power to revoke any lands already being allocated by his predecessors.
He added that the revocation was done regarding plot C9 and the letter of withdrawal was done, and it was reallocated to Kanilai Family Farm for the fact that the people in that area requested for a bakery, and eventually plot C9 was then allocated for Kanilai Family Farm .
He said plot C9 was previously allocated as the first accused person’s land.
The case was adjourned till 17 September 2013.