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Jobarteh trial on new charges begins

Mar 19, 2014, 9:46 AM | Article By: Malamin L.M. Conteh

The trial on new charges started Monday of the jailed former Attorney General and Minister Justice, Lamin AMS Jobarteh, at the Banjul High Court before Justice M Abdoulah.

Jobarteh was arraigned on new charges, which included three counts of abuse of office and two counts of forcible entry.

Mustapha Kanyi, the first prosecution witness (PW1), told the court he is the village alkalo of Toubanding village in the Central River Region.

“I am a farmer, and knew the accused at Toubanding village, because the accused came to me at my village, and said he wanted a garden. Before that I used to hear his name, but did not know him personally,” he said.

He said this was some time in 2011, when Jobarteh said he wanted a place for a tree plantation.

“I told him there was land available. He asked how he could acquire a plot of land. I advised him to buy cola nuts which will be distributed among the villagers, and I will tell them that you wanted a plot of land, because a garden is permanent,” he further told the court.

“I contacted the villagers, and they told me as the alkalo, if there was land available, I can facilitate land acquisition for the accused. I then told the accused to accompany me to the bush, where I show him an area which he said he was satisfied with. We did not have any means for measuring the land at our disposal. We used trees for identification purposes, regarding the size of the plot of land,” the alkalo added.

He said he could not tell exact size of the land. The accused told them to clear the land, and asked them the cost. He told him that since they are neighbours, he (Jobarteh) could provide lunch in addition to the cola nuts.

“I am not aware of anything else which the accused gave,” he said.

The alkalo also told the court that after the land was allocated to him, the accused person himself organized the clearing of the land.

“I later approached the accused, and told him that we have given you a plot of land, and now you are clearing another portion of land without our consent. However, the accused did not stop clearing. I called my younger brother, Saikou Kanyi, and I told him to tell the accused to leave that land, because he was clearing land that belongs to me”.

When his younger approached the accused, Jobarteh told him to leave him to clear the land, because they would all benefit. He said they did not agree.

The accused started fencing the plot of land with wire, and he (the witness) again called his younger to tell him that the accused was exercising power, and was also a lawyer.

While he was in Bansang, a police officer, one Jawo, was searching for him (Kanyi). They subsequently met at the Bansang Gamtel, and they boarded a vehicle for the police station. Jawo then ordered some police officers to go to his village and collect the alkalo’s stamp and the rates book.

Jawo later told him that he received information that the rates were not paid, which led to his arrest, Kanyi further stated.

“I was then asked to go home until the following day”.

The case continued.