By Louise Jobe.
Olimatou Colley a defendant in the Talokoto/Busura land suit on Tuesday 19th November 2019 testified before the West Coast Group Tribunal in Brikama.
Olimatou told the tribunal that she is currently the Alkalo of Talokoto village and that she assumed the position in 2014 after the death of her father, Baba Colley. She further narrated that according to her parents, Amadou Jabang of Basori village gave the Land which is currently in dispute to her grandfather Jerreh Colley to settle in Jabang Kunda farm land, and further told him that they shared a border with Siwoni village in Kombo Central West Coast Region. She then said that it follows that Talokoto village owns land from where the boundary between the two communities lies up to Talokoto including the farmlands.
She added that the land in dispute is owned by Talokoto village, adding that she did not encroach into Malanding Sanneh’s farm land. She further told the tribunal that since the death of the former Alkalo, there had never been claims over the ownership of the said land in dispute. She then went on to say that it was when she took over the position of Alkalo that the Busura villagers started to claim ownership of the disputed land. Olimatou further said that they tried many ways but could not succeed because this matter was before Basiru Jarju, Chief of Kombo East District in Sohm village. She added that before the trial, the chief was sacked from his chieftaincy position.
During cross examination, Malanding Sanneh asked the defendant Olimatou Colley whether she knows that people of Busura village have a forest in the land in dispute. Olimatou Colley said that what she was told by her father and grandfather was that the forest belongs to Basori, Giboro, Talokoto and Busura communities.
In his response Mr. Malanding Sanneh said “I am putting it to you that when the said forest was to be established, there were consultations by government authorities to determine whether the forest and farm lands of the surrounding communities mentioned above were included.”
Sanneh then proceeded to argue that this has clearly shown that no other community farmlands were included and both communities had confirmed and stamped the agreement. He further submitted that the Government had endorsed the attestation document and the forest was established by Busura village as owners.
Olimatou Colley maintained that what she said previously is what stands still, according to what she was told by her father and grandfather.
Momodou Lamin Jobarteh, Chief of Sibanor in Foni and a member of the panel asked the witness when they started giving the land in dispute as residential plots.
In her response, she told the tribunal they started doing so in the year 2015, about four (4) years ago, at a time when the land was almost like a bush because the land was not farmed for many years.
Modou Lamin Darboe Chief of Kombo South District suggested to the court that Busura Alkalo should be invited to come and testify because looking into the matter both Malanding Sanneh and olimatou Colley (Alkalo) do not have any case to answer since Olimatou did not encroach into Malanding’s farmland nor vice versa.
One of Olimatou’s witness testified and the case was adjourned till today, Tuesday 26th November 2019. Two other witnesses are to appear before the panel.