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Defence opens in Lamin Waa Juwara and Co trial

Nov 20, 2014, 10:06 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Tamsir Oness Conteh, a businessperson and the first accused, yesterday opened his defence in the trial involving him and others, at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Principal Magistrate Dawda Jallow

The other accused persons are Lamin Waa Juwara, former Minister of Regional Administrations, Lands and Traditional Rulers, and Hamidou Jallow, Principal Lands and Evaluation Officer, at the said ministry.

In his testimony, Conteh told the court he resides at Tranquil in the West Coast Region and is a businessman, adding that the late MB Bojang was the former Alkalo of Tanji village and has a family relationship with him.

Asked by his counsel whether he had anything to do with the late MB Bojang, Conteh said before his mother passed away, she took him to the late MB Bojang and told Bojang she wanted him to put Conteh’s name in the papers to all the land she owned.

He added that MB Bojang told his (Conteh’s) mother that he would do as told.

The two plots measuring 80 x 40 located at the Tanji Layout were subsequently transferred to his (Conteh’s) name and he was in possession of the documents.

He could not remember the date, but was in the year 1992, Conteh told the court, adding that MB Bojang visited him in Faji-kunda and informed him that he should go and pay the tax for the land.

“I went to Tanji and gave money to Cherno Bojang to pay tax for me, but unfortunately Cherno diverted the money to another purpose which I do not know,” he added.

In 1994, after the change of government in Gambia, the new government said they would use the area for residence and commercial plots, Mr Conteh said.

In 2000, a Lebanese national was interested in land at Tanji highway, and was shown Conteh’s land.

“We agreed on a price and I later went to the ministry of Lands and Surveys for transfer. They informed me that there was an embargo on that area in Tanji, because the government needed the place for a reserved land for the TDA,” he added.

Later, the government designated the land in that area as residence and commercial areas, he further told the court.

Even though he constantly asked the ministry of Lands and Surveys for the land, since he had all the documents intact, the ministry told him the issue of land in that area was not easy, Conteh said.

They told him the issue was before the parliament, for those who had clear and genuine documents for land at Tanji Layout.

He was also told that those who fall under a certain category could apply for compensation through the ministry of Lands.

He said he then started making a follow up, and the authority compensated him with a 40x50 plot of land in 2005 and sent him a letter, which was his first compensation.

At this juncture, his counsel applied to tender the said document in evidence. But state counsel Abdouraham Bah objected to the tendering of the document.

There followed submission and counter-submission on the issue of tendering the document.

The case was adjourned to 26 November 2014, for ruling.