12 wounded, compound set ablaze in URR land tussle

Jul 6, 2020, 1:06 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

A serious land dispute has erupted between Perai Tenda and Waliba villages, both in the Tumana District of the Upper River Region, leaving a dozen people wounded. One compound has also reportedly been set on fire, with a fence of another compound been vandalised, The Point has been reliably informed.

At the time of going to press no suspect (s) was arrested in connection with the matter. However, security officers in the region were investigating the matter.

A source who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity said so many of those who sustained serious injuries were referred to Basse Major Hospital and others were taken to Fatoto Hospital in the Kantora District of URR.

The people wounded at Waliba Village include: Gibbi Jawo, Maimuna Jawo, Amadou Baldeh, Momodou Jawo, Alhagie Baldeh, Amadou Jawo, Hamidou Mballow, Yerro Sabally, Amadou Baldeh and Samba Jawo. Meanwhile, one Karafa Sanneh from Perai Tenda was also reported wounded during the clash.

Our reporter has been reliably informed that the compound of one Lamin Susso of Waliba Kunda was set on fire, while Alfusainey Mballow’s fence and some of their food stuff were allegedly destroyed.  

A youth from Perai Tenda village who spoke to our reporter and didn’t want to be named claimed that the land in question belongs to Perai Tenda and that they have been farming on the land for decades.

“The land in question has always been cultivated and occupied by the people of Perai Tenda village until recently when the people of Waliba Kunda village also started claiming ownership of the said land. I can tell you that there has never been any year that the people of my village didn’t cultivate in the said land.”

He also dismissed reports suggesting that the people of Perai Tenda first attacked the people of Waliba village. He added: “As far as I am concerned that’s not true. Remember this year, there was a judgement conducted by the seven chiefs of URR with regard to the said land. The seven chiefs concluded and divided the portion of the land and put a boundary between the two villages.”

“However, we didn’t accept the judgement made by the seven chiefs on the grounds that we realised that about 500 to 600 hectares were taken away and that land used to be cultivated and owned by our people. We then decided to appeal against the chiefs’ judgement and took up the matter to the High Court.”

 As far as we are concerned, it’s the High Court that authorised our people to go back to their land and farm and the same letter was given to Waliba Kunda and some stakeholders in the region.”

He claimed that yesterday; the people of Perai Tenda went to the land for farming and the people of Waliba Kunda asked them to stop. “Personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) later came and asked both villages to maintain peace and for both villages to go back to their lands. Surprisingly, the Waliba Kunda people attacked us and then we clashed.”

For his part, Gibbi Jawo from Waliba Kunda village, who is part of the wounded people, said they were attacked by the People of Perai Tenda village which resulted in the injury of more than 10 people from their village.

“The people of Perai Tenda attacked us up to our village and destroyed some of our properties including food stuffs,” he stated, adding that immediately the judgement of the seven chiefs was made, the people of my village started cultivating the portion of land given to them by chiefs.”

“However, since the judgement of the chiefs; the people of Perai Tenda used to pass-by us on our farm land without any problem. Recently, we understand that they went to the High Court in protest of the chiefs’ judgement. They brought a document to us, saying that the High Court said the chiefs’ decision was null and void.”

“To our surprise, the people of Perai Tenda have already mobilised themselves and came with tractors and uprooted the groundnut that we have already cultivated. They also attacked a girl who took breakfast to his father at the farm land and beat her. We later invited the PIU personnel. Immediately, the PIU personnel arrived, the people of Perai Tenda attacked us with stones and cutlasses wounding others in their heads and eyes.”

A letter seen by The Point signed by regional governor Fanta B.S. Manneh and addresses to the alkalo of Waliba Kunda dated 1st July with the headline: “An order and ruling of court between Waliba Kunda and Perai Tenda village,” states: “I am directed to inform you that directives have been issued by the High Court of The Gambia as per Hon. Justice N. Wadda-Ceesay brought under the enforcement of the court’s supervisory jurisdiction under section 23 of the court act and section 133 of the constitution unquote that the decision of the group Tribunal in respect to alkalo of Waliba rep. by Musa Jawo versus Mankamang Sanno on behalf of the alkalo of Perai Tenda delivered on the 11th day of June 2020 shall be stayed until the certiorari application filled before the High Court shall be finally determined that status quo ante shall be maintained as it was before the judgement of the group tribunal.”