What’s Really at Stake in Jarrol-Nioro Jarrol Land Dispute

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By Yankuba Jallow & Louise Jobe

The people of Jarrol village in Foni Jarrol have sued the residents of Nioro Jarrol claiming ownership of the farmlands.  Nioro Jarrol is a farming community.

The Chief and his tribunal will decide on the dispute on the 22nd of April 2024. There is already an order passed by the Chief that no one should do anything on the farmlands until he decides the outcome of the case.

The decision, if it goes against the people of Nioro, would mean they will not farm this year on their farms and their stay in the area would be left at the mercy of the people of Jarrol. Also, if it goes against the people of Jarrol, the people of Nioro will continue to farm

Nioro is a 10-compound farm settlement. The community has one borehole and good structured buildings. The residents said they got the land from the Alkalo of Jarrol and witnessed by the Late Chief of Jarrol, Kutubo Sanyang.

“We went to the Alkalo of Jarrol and informed him that we are farmers; that we wanted an area to be given to us to settle and farm. They [the Alkalo and his people] brought us here and showed us the area. The Late Chief demarcated the area and showed us the boundary,” Balla Jobe said.

Balla Jobe said the allegation of the Alkalo of Jarrol that the land was not given to them was false.

“How can you ask a farmer to reside on your land and build permanent structures there and you will take over at any time? Who would accept that arrangement?” Balla Jobe asked.

Balla asked further: “Who in this world would give a whole village for free? How can that be possible?”

Balla and the residents of the village said they are farmers and they rely on their farms for survival.

He said they have been residing in Nioro for 12 years and paying their rates to the Alkalo of Jarrol.

“We have been farming and developing the area. I am convinced that the whole issue around the matter is based on jealousy. Land is now monetised. We have been seeing them coming with people to the area allocated for us. They want to sell the land and deprive us our farms,” Balla said.

The residents of Nioro said they are only waiting for the Chief’s verdict and they will appeal.

“We know the Chief’s decision already. He has clearly told us what he will do. We have him on audio recording talking harshly about us and saying he will do everything possible to remove us. We are shocked by the Chief. His father was a just man and he was one of our witnesses,” Balla said.

The residents of Nioro accused the Chief of intimidation. They have shared recorded audio of the Chief telling them he will remove them from the village. The statements were serious and the reporters decided to go to the Chief’s place in Kalagi to interview him but a woman claiming to be his mother said he was away. The Chief would not pick his calls for interview arrangements. The residents said the Chief’s Tribunal is not the right platform to hear the case.

Foroyaa understands the Chief had sent Balla Jobe to police detention. After the arrest, Balla Jobe was detained at Bondali Police Station for four (4) days because Kalaji Police declined from detaining him.

For Jarrol, it is a larger settlement with over 50 compounds.

The people of Jarrol said they gave the land to the people of Nioro Jarrol in 2012 to farm and stay there.

“We gave the land to them [the people of Nioro] to settle and farm, but we did not tell them to own it,” Boy Sambou, the Alkalo of Jarrol said.

Alkalo Sambou said the area Nioro Jarrol is occupying belongs to Jarrol, Arankone Kunda and Kalaji.

“We could not have asked them to take full ownership of the land because we do not even own the area. It belongs to 3 communities,” he said.

On how the people of Nioro Jarrol settled there, the Alkalo said he was the one who facilitated their stay in the area.

“When they (the people of Nioro) came to me 12 years ago requesting an area of land to settle and farm, I welcomed them and went to the people of Aronkone Kunda to get some space for them to add it to what we [Jarrol] have to give them to settle and farm. I was very clear to them that the land area does not belong to us [Jarrol] only,” he said.

The Alkalo said the residents of Aronkone Kunda have reclaimed their area, which forms part of the area the people of Nioro Jarrol farm.

“I went to inform them about the development that the owners want their land back, but I was surprised by the people of Nioro because they claimed that they own the place,’ the Alkalo said.

He said the idea was to give back Aronkone Kunda their land while the people of Nioro continue to farm on the area belonging to Jarrol.

“The people of Nioro said they own both our lands. That was the reason we sued them. Now, we want our farmlands back. We will allow them to stay in the areas they built as theirs, but we want to take the whole farmlands from them,” he said.

The Alkalo said the claim that the area was given to them to take is not true.

One Ousman Bah, claimed that he had resided in the area the residents of Nioro Jarrol are residing for 29 years.

“I was there with my family. The land belongs to Jarrol and when I wanted to migrate to the main village I returned it to them,” he said.

Ousman Bah was not a party during the discussion between the people of Jarrol and the people of Nioro Jarrol. He made several statements, but his narration has no connection with the dispute.

Abdoulie Sambou, the son of the Alkalo narrated the meetings they had with the people of Nioro at the Governor’s Office and the discussions they had with the Chief before the case was instituted.

“We gave them the land to settle and farm. We did not tell them that they own it. We agreed with them that we will retake the land anytime we want and they agreed,” the Son of the Alkalo of Jarrol said.

Abdoulie Sambou did not say whether he was present at the time the agreement was made. His statement came immediately his father finished his statement.

Touray Jarju, a resident of Jarrol said their community has no problems with the residents of Nioro Jarrol. He said the area they are occupying does not only belong to Jarrol. He added that the area belongs to Aronkone Kunda, Jarrol, Kalaji and some other communities.

“It is our Alkalo who went to all these communities asking them to give him their portion to give to the people of Nioro to farm on. We did not give them to own because we do not own the whole area,” Touray Jarju said.

He insisted that Jarrol does not have problems with Nioro.

“Our Alkalo went to Nioro and informed them that the owners of the land [Aronkone Village] want their land back. The people of Nioro refused to give back the land,” Touray Jarju said.

Alkalo Boy Sambou reiterated that they want their lands back. The people of Nioro said they will continue to defend themselves to any level using legal means.

The other issues will be left till after the decision and if the Chief agrees for an interview, we will publish some of the controversies including his statements against the people of Nioro.