By Nelson Manneh
The seventeen defendants in Momodou Lamin Jarju Aka Rongo’s civil suit on Wednesday, 9 January 2024 failed to appear before the Banjul High Court.
When the case was called before Justice Ruqata Oremei Ayoola, the plaintiff (Rongo) and his counsel BS Touray were present in court while all the seventeen defendants were absent.
Counsel MED Sanyang who is representing the 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th defendants was present in court. Counsel O Faal, who is representing the 9th and 10th defendants, was also in court.
Counsel BS Touray informed the court that there is a pending motion filed by the plaintiff before the court, but he does not know whether the process server has served all the defendants with the motion.
Justice Ruqata Oremei Ayoola urged plaintiff Momodou Lamin Jarju (Aka Rongo) to serve all the seventeen defendants with the notice of claim before the next adjourned date.
The matter is adjourned to 22 February 2024 for hearing.
Readers could recall that Rongo is claiming ownership of a piece of land or parcel of land situated at JolaKunda Misranding part of Banjulindingin Kombo North District.
The plaintiff ( Rongo) is claiming damages for trespass estimated at the sum of D 17.000.000 ( seventeen million dalasis) against the defendants for entering into his family land and committing acts of trespass by harassing and interfering with the suit land situated at Banjuliding.
Plaintiff Rongo has sought an order to cancel all or any of the defendant’s documents and whoever acquired possession and obtained documents in respect of the suit land. He also claims that his ancestral parents and family members were the founders and first settlers of Babbylon covering Kubuneh, Kunkujang, Mandinari, Kerewan, Daranka, Lamen, Banjulinding, Yumdum, Busumbala, Makumbaya, Kubanko, Bafuloto and other areas initially created and established by his ancestral parents.
Rongo claimed his ancestral parents and other family members have for many years remained within the Babylon settlement, and his family has several relevant documents from the colonial days to date including sketch plans with cooperation farming society trade receipts to back his claim.
He also argued that he has traditionally acquired the said plot of land from his father Lamin Jarju, who through local transfer and other relevant documents acknowledged by the former late Alkali sheriff Colley and former Alkali and district chief late Eric TundehJanneh and the late paramount chief Alhagie Demba Sanyang as well as various members of council of elders, VDC.
The statement stated, the plaintiff ( Rongo) father’s, Alh Lamin Jarju proposed on attestation dated 3rd August 2022 giving detail of how they owned the suit land and he ( Rongo’ father) had transferred it to Rongo. And around 2010 to 2020, Rongo and his father Lamin Jarju were arrested and prosecuted several times based on false accusations made by some of the trespassers and the stated act made it difficult to enforce his rights.
The plaintiff (Rongo) has taken Alkali of Banjulinding to court with other people for damages, wrongful arrest and detention based on false allegation. He also sued the various Alkalolu including Lamen, Makumbaya and Kubanko and were warned to stop trespassing on the said land, which defendants deliberately ignored.
On the 1st April 2015, the department of physical planning and housing served the former Alkali of Lamen (Mbemba Bojang) and former paramount chief Demba Sanyang with an order warning them to stop the encroachment.
On the 25th March 2020, as indicated in the sketch plan, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th defendants encroached in the area marked and all defendants.
The 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th defendants were trespassing in the area marked zone as shown on sketch plan dated 25th March and on 10th June 2022, 16th and 17th defendants also trespassed in the land area. The statement indicates that Rongo (plaintiff) has picture and video footage of defendants’ act of trespassing and causing damage to his family land by cutting down trees which were preserved for hunting, traditional medication and harvesting of plant food for feeding and security.
Rongo also indicted that defendants’ deliberate trespass has caused unfold hardship to him and his family. He believed that unless the court intervenes, defendants will continue their unlawful activities on his ancestral parents’ land which according to him will cause more serious damage and loss to him and his family.