By Omar Bah
The family of the late Alhaji Chondi Touray of Banjul has written a protest letter to the Ministry of Lands over a plot of land sold to Muhammed Jah of QGroup by Omar K Ceesay who sold the same land to their father 18 years ago.
In the protest letter dated 2nd August 2022 and shared with The Standard, the family wrote: “We write to complain about Omar K Ceesay’s relentless efforts to resell a land he sold to our father in 2005. We want to inform the ministry that this is the second time that Mr Ceesay is attempting to resold [sic] our land.
“The land, Plot Number 32, situated at Old Jeshwang Layout, Extension 2, was allocated to Omar K Ceesay by the former president Yahya Jammeh in recognition of the gallant efforts of the Gambian national team. [Omar was part of the coaching staff]. He leased it and went into agreement with our father to pay him in installments.
“However, when our father completed the payment, Omar did not honour his side of the bargain. He acted dubiously in trying to transfer the land to one Biagi Kamara. He failed woefully in his bid. The matter was reported to the NIA and after a careful investigation, they concluded the matter in our father’s favour as the rightful and legal owner of the property. Our father went ahead and fenced the property and Omar never appealed the decision of the NIA.
“Before the death of our father, he gifted this property to one of his sons, Muhammed Touray, who is currently residing in the USA. Muhammed is now the rightful and legal owner of the said property. This ownership is recognised by both the family members and the Cadi Court of Banjul,” the letter ended.
Breach of trust
Meanwhile, The Standard contacted both parties to ascertain the fact.
Muhammed Touray said he is a victim of “betrayal of trust” as the lawyer he contracted to regularise the status and lease of the plot turned out to be the lawyer of Muhammed Jah for the same plot.
“I contacted lawyer Ebrima Jah in 2021 to help me investigate the status of the land and a few months later, he told me he could not find anything about it. He promised to process a new lease for me. So, I was shocked when he recently told me that the land has been bought by Muhammed Jah, whose attorney he is and who happens to be his brother,” he said.
Touray alleged that Lawyer Jah had “used” him by collecting all the relevant information regarding the land and then “stabbed [him] in the back”.
“He betrayed my trust and because of that I am going to report him to the Gambia Bar Association for breach of trust,” Touray stated.
Touray said when Muhammed Jah went to the Ministry of Lands to regularise the status of the land, one Dawda Darboe informed him the land belonged to the Touray Kunda family.
“Mr Darboe refused to work on the documents and went further to inform us about Omar Ceesay’s plans to sell the land. This was the time Ebrima Jah told me the land was sold to his brother. So, it cannot be a coincidence that he facilitated the sale of the land to his brother a few months after serving as my attorney,” Touray said. He added: “Now, I want to know how did Mr Jah get approval for the lease even though he was blocked by Mr Darboe at the Ministry of Lands and told categorically and clearly that the land belonged to Alhaji Chondi Touray?”
‘The Standard will not publish this story’
When contacted for comments, Omar Ceesay’s uncle, Njundu Ceesay, who facilitated the sale of the same land to Alhaji Chondi Touray confirmed to The Standard that he introduced Omar to Alhaji Chondi.
“I can confirm to you that I was approached by my son [Omar] to facilitate the sale of the same land to Alhaji Chondi Touray of Banjul 18 years ago. We did all the processes together and even the last D10,000 Mr Touray paid, I collected it on behalf of Omar to pay for the repair of his car while he was in the US.
“So, all I know about that land is that it was sold to the Touray Kunda family. Omar didn’t inform me when he decided to resell it to Muhammed Jah so I know nothing about that,” he said.
Omar who sold the land to both the Touray Kunda family and Muhammed Jah, confirmed both transactions but declined to comment any further.
However, when I contacted him, he told me: “I just want to inform you that I know both your bosses [Sheriff Bojang and Lamin Cham] and I can assure you that the story will not be published on The Standard newspaper.”
Kaddy Sanyang, a gardener who has been tending the land for the past ten years told The Standard over the weekend that she only saw Chondi Touray and his family members at the land over the past ten years.
Dawda Darboe, an official of the Ministry of Lands who is familiar with the transaction between Mr Ceesay and Chondi Touray, said he was consulted by Touray to facilitate the documentation of the land in 2005.
“I remember Alhaji Chondi was paying in installments and Omar was supposed to give him the lease. Months after the final payment, he [Omar] came looking for a transfer of the same land to one Biagi Camara. When he told me he wanted to transfer the land, I immediately called Alhaji Chondi and informed him about Ceesay’s plans. The matter was reported to the NIA and I was invited to testify and it was resolved there. Now, two weeks ago, I saw a transfer between Omar Ceesay and Muhammed Jah. Because it came through me, I blocked it and I informed the Touray Kunda family,” he said.
When contacted, Lawyer Ebrima Jah said his client, Muhammed Jah, followed the due process and all necessary searches were done and it was found that there was no interest registered at the ministry regarding the land. He said there was no knowledge of the land having been sold to the Touray Kunda family and to insinuate that they knew about it was “unfair”.
“I am really disappointed that instead of them trying to address this in the right way, they are trying to insinuate that either me or Muhammed has done something wrong. All what had happened in this transaction was done without any foul play or ill will,” he said.
Reacting to Muhammed Touray’s claims that he provided solicitorial services to both himself and Muhammed Jah for the same contentious piece of land, Lawyer Jah clarified: “Well let me tell you, Mr Touray contacted me sometime last year and he told me he had a land that his father bought but he doesn’t know what is happening to it so I told him I will investigate for him. I made many enquiries at the Ministry of Lands and the Department of Physical Planning but they could not locate it.”
The Touray Kunda family bought the land for D160,000 from Omar Ceesay 18 years ago. According to a recent search report on the land conducted by the Touray Kunda Family lawyers, Omar obtained the lease on 9th April 2008 bearing SR Number K177/2008 in his name which he eventually transferred to Muhammed Jah on 22nd June 2022 bearing SR number 1978/2022 KD.