By Louise Jobe
Pa Musa Gibba of Gunjur allegedly cut down the cashew trees in the farmland of Karonaka Mendy in Pacholing Village, Kombo South District of West Coast Region.
The alleged incident happened on Saturday, 18 November 2023.
Karonaka Mendy said his cashew farmland was willfully destroyed by one Pa Musa Gibba of Gunjur village. Mendy narrated that while at home on the day of the incident he and his family were hearing sound of machines cutting down trees. He stated that when he and his son rushed to the cashew farm they found them cutting the trees.
Mendy told Foroyaa that he the said farmland from his father, John Mendy, adding that his father was the one who cleared the land and has been farming on the land for so many decades. He added that his father used to farm on the land before he was born and after his fldemise, the family continued to farm on the said land.
Mendy said most of the cashew trees on the farmland has been cut down by the said Pa Musa Gibba. He added that the cashew trees were his family’s source of income.
He explained that Pa Musa hired a bulldozer to cut down the trees.
Pa John Mendy, the son of Karonaka Mendy said before the arrival of the residents of Pacholing Village the bulldozer had already cut down an area of between 45 and 60 meters squar.
The Pa John said on arrival they instructed the man using the caterpillar to stop and he complied. He added that there was no violence because the caterpillar driver complied without any hesitation.
According to Pa John, Pa Musa Gibba, who allegedly cut down the trees informed them that he purchased the land from Karamo Bojang of Sanyang Village. John said Pa Musa Gibba called Karamo Bojang over the phone to clarify issues and asked him to come to the site but Karamo Bojang did not come.
He said the matter was taken to the police station. He added that they were with one Sergeant Jammeh and another policeman First Class Sonko.
At the police station during obtaining their statements, Karamo Bojang was asked about who owned the land by one Sub-Inspector Mbakeh and Karamo Bojang responded that he inherited the land from his ancestors. John said his father was able to provide proof of title over the land while Karamo Bojang could not provide any proof.
Pa John said Karamo Bojang was charged by the police. Karamo Bojang was released on bail and both parties were warned to report to the station on Monday, 20 November 2023. He further explained that on the return date, his father Karonaka and his family returned to the station but Karamo Bojang did not come .
“The station officer Jammeh, advised my father that he can no long proceed with the matter since there was an interference into the matter by his superior, police Commissioner Lamin Bojang who is a relative to Karamo Bojang but advised them to take the matter to Complaint and Disciplinary Unit of the Gambia Police Force at their headquarters in Banjul for further police action,” Pa John said.
Pa John said the village of Pacholling village sent a delegation to the police headquarters comprising of the council of elders of the village and member of Karonaka Mendy’s family but justice was never served.
Pa Musa Gibba confirmed to Foroyaa that he purchased the land from Karamo Bojang of Nambara Kunda Kabilo of Sanyang Village with the intention of making it a football field because he has a football academy team.
He explained that he recieved all the land documents from Karamo Bojang and this was when he decided to clear the land. He said some parts of the land was cleared by use of a caterpillar shovel machine to fell down cashew trees, but during the process one old man meet them on the farmland and asked them to stop because the farmland with cashew trees belongs to him. He added that this was when asked the machine operator to stop the activity. He confirmed that he called Karamo Bojang on phone and explain the matter to him.
“I did not even know that the land was in Patchollig Village. I thought I was in Sanyang,” Pa Musa said.
Karamo Bojang said that part of the land at Patchollig Village originally belongs to their Kabilo, Nambara Kunda of Sanyang Village. He added that the land was their ancestors land.
He told Foroyaa that his family shared the land among members and the land in dispute was allocated to him. He explained that he did not go to the land for a longtime until one day when he visted the land and discovered that the pegs he placed for identification purpose were removed.
Bojang stated that Karonaka Mendy’s family occupied the land and planted some cashew trees on it without his notice. He also said that he sold the land to Pa Musa Gibba’s group. He added that the people of Pacholing stopped the clearing of the land with the claim that the land belongs to Karonaka Mendy and his family.
Karamo also confirmed that he received a call from Pa Musa Gibba giving him the complaint about his encounter with the people of Pacholing.
Karamo Bojang said he will take the matter to the Kombi South District Tribunal. He stated that the matter was reported at the Snayang Police Station.
The station officer at the Sanyang Police Station, Jammeh, confirmed to Foroyaa that he received the complaint regarding the land in dispute. However, he declined from making further comments. He referred the reporter to the police spokespersons for further comment. The reporter inquired about the alleged attempts to compromise the case by police commissioner Lamin Bojang. The Station Officer declined from commenting on the issue.
The police public relations officer confirmed to the reporter that the matter was at the Sanyang Police Station, but he wouldn’t make further comments on the matter.
e also said that he have contacted the SO of Sanyang Police Station and asked him about the involvement of the alleged police officer but he the SO of Sanyang Police Station denied the allegation.