Tuesday, September 22, 2020

No One Has Power To Seize Your Right To Property. Know Your Rights:

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Frustrations are being expressed by many people over claims of land being in the possession of those who did not  acquire them from the owners. Many claim that they do not know how they came to lose possession of their land. This battle over land calls for knowledge of property rights.

Foroyaa will now take the initiative to help the reader to know the property rights of Gambian citizens. The first point is to take note of section 22 of the Constitution of the Republic which give protection from deprivation of property.

It states:

“(1) No property of any description shall be taken possession of compulsory, and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of the Gambia, except where the following conditions are satisfied –

{a} the taking possession or acquisition is necessary in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, or the development or utilisation of any property in such manner as to promote the public benefit; and

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{b} the necessity therefore is such as to afford reasonable justification of the causing of any hardship that may result to any person having any interest in or right over the property; and

{c} provision is made by law applicable to that taking of possession or acquisitive –

(i) for the prompt payment of adequate compensation; and

(ii) securing to any person having an interest in or right over the property, a right of access to a court or other impartial and independent authority for the determination of his or her interest or right, the legality of the taking of possession or acquisition of the property, interest or right, and the amount of any compensation to which he or she is entitled, and for the purpose of obtaining prompt payment of that compensation.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the making of any law in so far as it provides for the taking or acquisition of property –

(a) in satisfaction of any tax, rate or due;

(b) by way of penalty for breach of law, whether under civil process or after conviction of a criminal offence;

(c) as an incident of a lease, tenancy, mortgage, charge, bill of sale, pledge or contract;

(d) by way of the vesting or administration of trust property, enemy property, bona vacantia, or the property of persons adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt or insolvent, person of unsound mind, deceased persons, or bodies corporate in the course of being wound up;

(e) in the execution of judgements or borders of courts;

(f) by reason of such property being in a dangerous state or liable to cause injuries to the health of human beings, animals or plants;

(g) in consequence of any law with respect to the limitation of actions;

(h) for so long as such taking of possession may be necessary for the purpose of any examination, investigation, trial or inquiry, or, in the case if land, the carrying of thereon –

{I} of work of soil conservation or conservation of other natural resources; or

{ii} of agricultural  development or improvement which the owner or occupier of the land has been required, and has without reasonable or lawful excuse refused or failed, to carry out, except so far as the provision, or as the case may be the thing done under the authority thereof, is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the making or operation of any law for the compulsory taking in the public interest of any property, or the compulsory acquisition in the public interest of any interest in or right over the property, which that property, interest or right is held by a body corporate which is established directly by any law and in which no moneys have been invested other than moneys provided by an Act of the National Assembly.

(4) Where a compulsory acquisition of land by or on behalf of the Government involves the displacement of any inhabitants who occupy the land under customary law, the Government shall resettle the displaced inhabitants on suitable alternative land with due regard to their economic well being and social and cultural values.

(5) Any such property of whatever description compulsorily taken possession of, and any interest in or right over property of any description compulsorily acquired in the public interest for a public purposes for which it is taken or acquired.

(6) Where any such property as is referred to in subsection (5) is not used in the public interest or for the public purpose for which it was taken or acquired, the person who was the owner immediately before the compulsory taking or acquisition, as the case may be, shall be given the first option of acquiring that property, in which event he or she shall be required to refund the whole or such part of the compensation as may be agreed upon between the parties thereto; and in the absence of any such agreement such amount as shall be determined by the High Court “.

Allow us to conclude that you have a right to go to the High Court for redress should you claim to be a victim of deprivation of property. This is the first point. Send your questions if you have any doubts on the way forward to defend your property rights.

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