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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Ex-Deputy Governor Suso explains Kassa Kunda alkaloship crisis


The former deputy governor of West Coast Musa Suso has for the first time shed light on the Kassa Kunda land crisis which led to the removal of the former alkalo Cherno Sirrending Sabally and his replacement with Sheriffo Sabally.

The change of leadership caused a deep division in the village with some villagers protesting against the move and accusing former AFPRC Junta member Sana Sabally and twin brother Sainey for engineering it with the connivance of the office of Governor Ousman Bojang who is a friend of theirs. The Sabally brothers have denied such allegations.

Explaining his knowledge about the issue Musa Suso told Kerr Fatou TV that he was aware of the Kassa Kunda case and had in fact initiated mediation in the matter in his capacity as head of dispute resolution in the region.

“It all started sometime in 2020 during the time of Governor Lamin Sanneh when Sana Sabally came to my office to say that the alkalo Cherno Sirrending Sabally who had spent about ten years in office  is visually  impaired and is affecting his work and that his assistant, one Adama, is not an indigene from the Sabally clan who are traditionally the alkalolu of the village,” he said.  Suso said many villagers including some from the Sabally clan did not support any suggestion to remove the alkalo on that ground because he had always had visual impairment from the very day he was appointed. 

“Sabally again came to my house and I advised him to talk with his brother to avoid internal rancour within the Sabally clan, the traditional holders of the alkalorship which could lead to other villagers demanding an open election for the position. I told him to learn to be accommodative and forgiving especially among his family just as he himself had preached during his appearance at the TRRC,” Mr Suso said.

He said little did he knew that a petition has been sent to the governor’s office which was directed to  the ministry of local government demanding the sacking of Cherno Sirrending and replacing him with Sheriffo Sabally.

“In fact, the petition was sent to the ministry twice under Minister Musa Drammeh but no action was taken,” Suso said.

 He explained that after sometime in 2022 during the time of current governor Ousman Bojang, they received complaints from Sana Sabally and others that Alkalo Cherno Sirrending had sold land in the village including the community forest. ”The governor refereed the matter to me and I dispatched a fact-finding mission to Kassa Kunda who came to report that the alkalo actually did not sell any land from the forest and that he merely made transfer for the Sanyang clan who had sole their land to Kombo Real Estate. “However, while the new buyers were clearing the land the caterpillar driver who did not know the boundary, accidentally strayed into the community forest. The investigators I sent there were informed of the fact that the invasion into the community forest was a mistake by the caterpillar driver and not an intention by anybody to grab any land from the forest,” Mr Suso said.

However according to Mr Suso the matter was already sent to court. “At this point I withdrew from the matter because I don’t negotiate matters that are in court,” he said.

However according to Mr  Suso he was not put in the picture about actions being taken on the petition sent to the Ministry of lands by Sabally and others  as Governor Bojang who had travelled to the US at the time was communicating  with  a records officer about the matter. ”One day a car full of villagers came to the office protesting that they have information that Alkalo Cherno Sirrending had been removed and demanding his reinstatement. I had to tell them to go as the governor was out of town just to calm them.  In fact I later learned that the alkalo was indeed dismissed and the entire correspondence on the appointment of a new alkalo and the dismissal of the old one were jumbled in such a way that effectively on paper, there were two alkalolu in the village for ten days because the new one was appointed ten days before the old one got his removal letter,” Mr  Susso said.

He said if the governor had not sidelined him over the matter, he would have avoided the suspicions and allegations leveled against him on the Kassa Kunda case.

Asked to comment on allegations that he himself misled people in the Kassa Kunda case, Suso said he suspected that there have been many reports about him sent to the president, adding that any suggestions that he misled people over the Kassa kunda case are false and he wants to make that clear.

The Standard called Governor Bojang for clarifications on his former deputy’s assertions but he said he was not at his office at the time as it was a Sunday and that he would need to know what has been claimed or alleged before being able to respond. When The Standard offered to put across areas needing clarifications from him, he said: ” I am at a social gathering, I will give you my email for you to send me details. You can go ahead to publish what you have if you want it that way”. The Standard could not reach the Sabally brothers for comments but one of them, Sainey told Kerr Fatou at the time that he did not sue the former alkalo, whom he referred to as his stepfather.

He went on: “The alkalo said we took him to court but if you check the court case, my name is not there and my brother Sana’s name too is not there. The witnesses are residents of Kassa Kunda and the reason he was taken to court was that the Kassa Kunda forest is a gazetted land and cannot be sold, but there were people in the community using the alkalo because he is blind. They sold 33 of the 43 hectares of the forest. Even the residents do not know how part of the forest was sold. They used the pretext of developing the community but there is no development here? What I know is that Sabally Kunda are the founders of this village and can you imagine in my own village, I do not even have a single plot of land? I do not have a problem with anyone in this village. I only have a problem with my stepfather (the sacked alkalo). He is blind. He was taken to court on three occasions for using his stamp wrongly,” he said. Sainey Sabally also confirmed his friendship with the current West Coast Governor, but denied conniving with him to remove the previous alkalo.

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