Local gov’t PS accused of “nepotism” in Brufut land tussle

Jun 11, 2020, 12:22 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo

Buba Sanyang, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Lands and Regional Governments has been accused of “nepotism” in a land dispute between the Sanno Kunda and Bojang Kunda families of Brufut in Kombo North District, West Coast Region (WCR).

The Sanno Kunda and Bojang Kunda families are both claiming ownership of a piece of land measuring 119m x 166 meters in Brufut. The said land was used as a temporary storage camp by the Senegalese construction company (CSE) at the time the company was building the Kombo Coastal Road.

The land is located in Brufut on the left side of the highway towards the former Sheraton Hotel. It’s situated next to the African Muslim Agency premises.

The Sanno Kunda family claimed that P.S Sanyang single handedly handed the said land to the Bojang Kunda family without even consulting their ‘kabilo’ and without even going through legal procedures to determine the rightful owner of the land.

A letter from the Ministry of Local government dated 23rd January 2020 and signed by P.S Buba Sanyang and addressed to Bully Sanno of Brufut has been sighted by The Point.

The headline of the letter reads: “Return of Former CSE Camp at Brufut.”

The letter states that going by the facts obtained from the meeting convened by this ministry between Bojang Kunda and Sanno Kunda clans of Brufut regarding the claim and counter claim respectively of ownership of the old CSE camp in Brufut and the witness statements obtained from the elders who represented the five kabilolus of Brufut at that meeting, the ministry confirmed and concluded that the site in question belongs to the Bojang Kunda clan of Brufut.

The letter further added: “This position is further collaborated by the results obtained from an investigation thereafter conducted in Brufut and the immediate surroundings of the site (old CSE Camp).”

Another letter was addressed to President Adama Barrow dated 13th April 2020 and seen by The Point, written by Edrisa M. Sissoho, the lawyer for the Sanno Kunda Family and it reads: “By the said letter under reference, PS Buba Sanyang is purporting to hand over disputed land to Bojang Kunda Family of Brufut.”

It further stated: “It is apparent that PS Sanyang is not a judge nor is his office a court of law. What powers does Mr. Sanyang have to make such a purported decision? The disputed land was featured in the Janneh Commission and it was recommended that the land should be returned to Sanno Kunda Kabilo.”

“Your Excellency is respectfully urged to cause an investigation to make of the purported return of the said land.”

Meanwhile, on 21 June 2019, Edrisa Sissoho, the attorney to Yankuba A.K. Sanneh also wrote to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, requesting for the recovery of lands in Brufut illegally taken by former President Yahya Jammeh.

Speaking to The Point, Yankuba A.K. Sanno, who spoke on behalf of Sanno Kunda Fammily, said: “The decision taken by PS Sanyang to return the land in question to the Bojang Kunda Family is absolutely wrong and he had no authority whatsoever to do that. The particular land in dispute belongs to my late father, Pa Kelepha Sanno. In fact, it was my dad who allocated it to CSE for temporarily use as a storage facility.”

According to him, some officials from the then department of lands and survey with some technocrats including some officials from the CSE Company approached his father to give them the said land for temporal use.

After the completion of the construction of the road, he explained, the CSE Company returned the land to his father. However, the then President Yahya Jammeh expressed interest in the said land through the then minister of Local Government Ismalie Sambou.

“I was invited by Ismalie Sambou at his office together with my stepfather, the late Paramount Chief Dembo Sanyang, the then chief of Kombo South Mr. Janneh were all part of the meeting. The message from Ismalie Sambou was that I was stubborn and that I was the one denying Yahya Jammeh to have access to the land. I responded to the minister negatively and told him (Sambou) that if Jammeh was interested in the said land let him apply for it.”

Mr. Sanno claimed that after the Janneh Commission, it was recommended that the said land to be returned to their family.

“Surprisingly, PS Sanyang wrote a letter and addressed it to Bully Sanno, who’s not the head of our family indicating that the land be returned to the Bojang Kunda family. In fact, before the letter, PS Sanyang had secretly invited my two stepfathers to his residence. He told them that the land would be returned to our kabilo. However, all of a sudden, he make a u-turn (about turn). Therefore, something is wrong somewhere else”

He said: “P.S Sanyang is “corrupt”. He is a permanent secretary and what right does he have to veto a recommendation of a commission that was established by the parliament? He is neither a judge nor is he the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. So, what rights does he (Buba) have to come out with such decision?

Mr. Sanno maintained that they will do everything possible to make sure that they get back their land, adding that it belongs to them. “P.S Sanyang is in fact, sabotaging the government because his decision is baseless and he has no authority to do so. It’s also not true that my family was invited for a meeting that the Ministry of Local Government organised,” he noted. He added that “the Sanno Kunda family are the custodians of Brufut. The ownership of CSE land will cost us anything but we will never relent until we get what belongs to us back.”

Sheriff Janneh, former chief for Kombo South who was also contacted for comments claimed that the land in question belongs to the Sanno Kunda family of Brufut.

Kalilu Giteh, former Physical Planning officer, who was also contacted for comments recalled that more than decade ago, officials from the CSE Company wrote to the government requesting a site for a temporal base.

“The current land in dispute was identified by the government for CSE to use it temporarily. However, I can’t tell as to who owns the said land. I only got to know about the said land when a file was sent to the Planning Unit of the Department of Physical Planning.”

Our reporter’s efforts to speak to PS Buba Sanyang on numerous occasions proved futile.

Meanwhile, the representative of Bojang Kunda family couldn’t also be reached for comments at the time of gathering the report.