Chiefs in a group tribunal in Upper River Region (URR) have ruled against a defendant who claimed his farmland became a subject of dispute after he showed his opposition to the caste system practiced in Upper River Region.
One Musa Sanneh, who claimed he has been cultivating his farmland for 37 Years, said he was targeted by the plaintiff since he was opposed to the caste system nurtured in the Upper River Region.
The sitting took place on Saturday 7th August 2021, at Koina Kantora district, URR.
The chiefs who presided over the sitting included the host chief of Kantora, Alhagie Bachor Ceesay; Alhagie June Bah of Sandu; Alhagie Ebrima Sorry Juwara of Wulli east; acting chief of Wulli West, Mamadou Bah; and the chief of Tumanna, Hagie Jagana. The chief of Jimara, Alhagie Kanimang K Sanneh, was represented by Abubacarr Camara.
At the end of trial, six chiefs out of seven agreed to forfeit a farmland from Musa Sanneh, the defendant, and awarded the farmland to one Alhagie Sarja Trawally, the complainant as the owner of the aforesaid land effect from Saturday 7th August.
The parties were Alhagie Sarja Trawally and Musa Sanneh. Both were claiming the ownership of a particular farmland and they both have three witnesses.
When both parties were called before the group tribunal, Alhagie Sarja Trawally, the complainant who said he is 108 years old, claimed that the said land belongs to him.
“That land belongs to me, but I lent it to Musa’s father, because Musa’s father was my best friend. By then, most of my siblings travelled. I was having an abundance of land that was why I lent him that land. After the demise of Musa’s father, Musa also continued using the land. Two years ago, I asked Musa about the said land, but Musa insisted that that farmland belongs to him. That is why I decided to take legal action against him”, Alhagie Sarja explained.
Musa Sanneh, the defendant before giving his statement, asked the chiefs and the court members about the purpose of the Quran at the court.
“I am seeing the Holy Quran on the table, what is its purpose here? I think it is here for both parties and their witnesses to swear before saying anything. Instead, statements are given without swearing .I don’t understand that”, he asked.
Mawdo Garry, a court member from Wulli East District Tribunal, replied that “this Quran here is for only witnesses to swear before they say anything before this tribunal.”
Musa Sanneh then gave his argument against the claim of ownership by the complainant over the said farmland.
“I deny all that was said by Sarja Trawally who is claiming the ownership of my land that I have been cultivating for over 37 years now. Since then, no one ever approached me to claim that land until recently after the eruption of the caste scuffle in our community. As I am among those against that, they now conspired to take away my farmlands from me. Nobody lent my father nor myself this land because I personally cleared this land for the first time over 37 years ago when my father was alive, but was not working on farms by then. He (his father) was too old and he never ever tells me or points out any land lent to him by anybody”, Musa said.
The witnesses were called one by one to testify and the three witnesses of Alhagie Sarja Trawally, the complainant included Mary Trawally, Baba Gumanneh and Kissima Gumanneh. All three witnesses maintained that the said land belongs to Alhagie Sarja Trawally because most land at that area belongs to the Trawally kunda family, which Alhagie Sarja is heading.
Musa Sanneh’s witnesses including Sulayman Camara, Jahara Camara and Ousman Touray also insisted that Musa Sanneh owned the land, adding they witnessed when Musa was clearing that land, as he was the first occupant of that land.
After hearing from parties, the chiefs and their court members had a closed-door session. Thereafter, six out of seven chiefs agreed to forfeit the land from Musa and handed it to Sarja. The chief of Tumanna Hagie Jagana, who disagreed, said that decision was unfair and he distanced himself from them during the ruling.
The group tribunal chaired by chief of Sandu Alhagie, June Bah, gave the verdict on behalf of his fellow chiefs.
“After hearing from both parties and their witnesses on which we based our rulings, therefore, by considering the evidence given by the witnesses, we hereby ordered that the said land belongs to Alhagie Sarja Trawally from henceforth and also this tribunal orders Musa Sanneh to stay away from that particular farmland immediately after harvesting his groundnut”, Chief Bah said.