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Darboe urges Barrow to stop development on ‘government property’

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By Tabora Bojang

The leader of the opposition United Democratic Party has urged President Barrow to halt development on a plot of land in South Atlantic because the property belongs to the government.

The UDP leader first raised the matter at a press conference last month asking for clarifications on whether the land is allocated to Barrow.

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In response, Land Minister Hamat Bah in a press statement confirmed the allocation, saying no one is occupying the plot and the minister has used his discretion to allocate it to Barrow in the same way Darboe himself and his family benefited from land allocations. He accused the UDP leader of trying create controversy and malign against the president who he said has a right like every Gambian to be allocated land.   

However, according to Ousainu Darboe, who was addressing a rally in Brikama Saturday, the land allocated to Barrow is a government property and not government approved layout. 

“We’re urging you to stop any development on that land because you’re developing land that belongs to the government of The Gambia not an approved layout. This is an asset of the government. In fact, it’s just like committing an economic crime, and I believe anyone involved in that can rightly be charged for that,” Darboe addressed Barrow.

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On lands minister’s claims that he (Darboe)  and his family benefited from government land allocation,  the UDP leader said: ”When I got my land, you Mr President, were going to school and I was not a politician or holding a political position to enable me influence the minister for lands to allocate the land to me. I was just a mere civil servant, just like all other civil servants who have had similar land then. We had it because according to the eligibility criteria, we deserved it.”

“Mr. President, your minister wants to mislead the Gambian people and I am disappointed that Mr. Hamat Bah did not do his research properly before coming out with his wishy-washy press release,” Darboe said.

He argued that his daughter Fatoumatta Fenda Darboe got her allocation after he, Darboe, had left office and could not have influenced it and the same goes for his wife’s allocation in 2022.

“So, to tell people that I was foreign minister and vice president at the time of those allocations was just to mislead people. They misused their official position and I never used my position as a minister to get anything for any of my relatives or for myself. I’ve never done it because I thought about it as morally wrong, if legally it was not wrong”, Darboe said.

 He urged Lands Minister Hamat Bah to expla why he “stole our land and gave it to Adama Barrow. I think that is what you have to explain to the Gambian people; not this kind of comical press statement that you released”, Darboe said.

He said every Gambian should demand that this appropriation of property of government be rescinded and the property be reverted back to the government of the Gambia. “President Adama Barrow, my advice to you is to stop any development on that land in your own interest, because if you continue, when there is a change of government, you’ll be a loser, because you have been warned that this should not go on. I advise you and I advise the minister that if you have any moral conscience, these are things that should not happen. Even Yahya Jammeh with all his behaviours, I have never heard that he appropriated government land into his name. How could you come as a government to rectify wrong doing, and then perpetuate wrong doing and expect Gambians to really look away and not say something about it?” Darboe said.

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