BY KEBBA MAMBURAY / LOUIS JOBE
The Commission of Inquiry into the Faraba incident commenced hearing in public on Monday 9th July 2018 at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul. Lawyer Emmanuel Joof, the Chairperson of the Commission of Enquiry in his introductory remarks said all the Commissioners were sworn in on the 5th of July 2018 and had since then commenced work.
The Commission Chairperson added that they have conducted several interviews and investigations at Faraba Banta on the 6th and 7th July 2018. He further explained that the Faraba Banta Commission was instituted by the President of the Republic of The Gambia to find out what had happened in Faraba on the 18th of June 2018.
The Alkalo of Faraba Banta Mr. Noah Kujabi, yesterday was the first to testify before the commission.
In his testimony he explained that the role of an Alkalo is to look after the welfare of the people and their interest, and to settle disputes between villagers in the village. He added that he is answerable to the Chief of Kombo Central.
Noah Kujabi explained that on 18th July 2018 he was at work in his office in Abuko when he received a phone call from one Mr. Bakary Sanyang a resident of Faraba Banta at around 8.30 to 9.00am who informed him that the villagers clashed with the PIU personnel and that one person called Bakary Sefo Kujabi had died. He also explained that on the same day as the clash escalated at 11.00 am he received another phone call from Alhagie Kujabi who informed him that the youths vandalized his (the Alkalo’s) house and took out all his household belongings and burnt them at the village Bantaba. Mr Kujabi narrated that he couldn’t go to Faraba Banta to witness how the incident was unfolding because the situation was hostile for him to risk his life to visit Faraba Banta due to what he saw in a video that was sent to him by his sister-in-law who lives in Belgium in the person of Maimuna Saidy. He also added that he did not know what they were fighting for but suspects it could be due to the allegation that he sold the land to Julakay.
Noah Kujabi narrated how from the inception Julakay came to mine in Faraba Banta. He said that around May and June 2017, Julakay called him and told him that he (Julakay)| was granted a license by the Geology Department to mine sand at Faraba Banta and that he (Julakay) wanted to meet the villagers in Faraba Banta so that they can have a dialogue regarding the mining licence he got from the government. He added that he informed the villagers about the wish of Julakay to meet them and the meeting was held. The VDC Chairman, the Alkalo and the Council of elders attended.
Continuing his testimony, the Alkalo said that, in the meeting with Julakay and the villagers, Julakay brought fifteen thousand dalasi (D15,000.00| and four kilos of kola nuts which he gave as appreciation; and that in his discussion with the villagers they all consented to his business proposal. He further told the Commission that, he intervened by telling the villagers the benefit they could derive from the mining. He further pointed out that, during the meeting, the villagers asked Julakay to build a market place for the women in the village which also includes a sum of money for the development of the village mosque which could not be completed for ten years now.
He added that the village signed an MOU with Julakay, that an amount of One hundred Thousand Dalasi (D100,000) be paid to the village from a quota of every sand mining income.
Finally, the Alkalo stated that the Village Development Committee invited Julakay to a meeting so that they can let him know the damages that the mining is causing the village but that Julakay failed to turn up. He said this provoked the anger of the villagers who then condemned the mining of the quarry by Julakay. The Alkalo said this is what brought about the dispute in the village.
This was the end of the testimony of the Alkalo Kujabi. Sitting continues today.