The simmering land dispute in Bakau involving one Essa Sonko, and two others recently continued at the Kanifing Magistrates' Court.
A legal action is taken against one Essa Sonko for an alleged offence of wilful damages to plant crops, being the property of one Momodou Camara, valued at D250, 000.
Essa Sonko, who was charged along with two other men, opened his defence by giving evidence.
In his testimony, Sonko told the court that he is a Contractor. He adduced that the area where the complainant claimed to be his was given to them by the government for the erection of an Islamic school, which he said, was a reserved land.
He testified that, he had 350 school children without a permanent school.
According to him, he therefore appealed to the Alkalo of Bakau to provide them with a land where they could erect the school.
He further narrated that after appealing to the Alkalo, together with his committee members, the Alkalo tried to phone the Minister of Local Government and Lands, but to no avail. He stated that the Alkalo then decided that they should go and meet the Minister.
According to him, the Alkalo personally went to see the Minister about the said land.
"It was the Alkalo who told me on his arrival that the Minister was busy because he was going to travel and he needed time until he comes back from his journey when he would contact the Alkalo. On his arrival, we went to meet the Minister and he directed us to meet the Permanent Secretary Manneh, to discuss with him", Sonko told the court.
He adduced that after their discussion with PS Manneh, he also directed them to one Mr. Jatta, the Director of Lands. He said Mr. Jatta also instructed them to "make a general survey of all the reserved lands around Bakau and wherever they saw a suitable place, they let him know".
He went on to say that they later discovered the said land in dispute, adding that they all went with the Alkalo to the Lands Office where Mr. Jatta instructed one Mr. Secka, a surveyor to go to the site with them.
"Mr. Secka also instructed one Mansour to go with us to measure the area and advised us to go until the following day when we should go back to report to the Lands Office. The next day, the Alkalo himself decided to go to the site so that he could talk to those who had cultivated crops in the area for them to know that an Islamic school would be built there very soon", he testified.
Sonko explained that the Alkalo did so and as a result, one Demba and Suntu decided to leave the said site, but the complainant insisted to stay until he was compensated by the government. As he testified, he had been occupying the area for agricultural purposes.
He informed the court that, the Alkalo had told him that he had notified the complainant. He stated that they again went to the Lands Office and the officers went through a sketch plan and found out that the land was a reserved land.
"The Lands Office further prepared the sketch plan and other documents for processing by the Physical Planning and Survey Department and then to the ministry", he stated.
He concluded by saying that after three months, the said documents were approved by the ministry. At this juncture, he applied to tender the said documents and the Prosecutor did not object to his application to tender the documents which were accepted by the court.