By Tabora Bojang
Malangding Jamba Sanyang, a member of the council of elders of Faraba, yesterday told the Faraba Commission of Inquiry that the 18 June bloody unrest which claimed the lives of three individuals could have been avoided if there was no communication breakdown among his people.
Sanyang who claimed to have lost close to D2 million when his compound and other valuables were burnt during the melee, informed the commission that since the Julakay issue came up Faraba became deeply polarised amid heightened tension among villagers, the council of elders and the village development committee (VDC).
He confirmed during a meeting convened by former governor, Ebrima Mballow when the VDC complained that Julakay had a licence from the Geology Department to mine in Faraba without their knowledge and that that was unacceptable.
He said he was shocked since the VDC had mined for four years without the consent of the government and other agencies and he urged the governor to allow them to become organised and get back to him.
According to Sanyang when he went back to the village to organise a meeting with the VDC, they could not agree on anything meaningful because the youths insisted that they had information that village elders and the alkalo were selling land to Julakay.
“I went back to the governor informing him of my intention to distance myself from any negotiations with the youth because they were unwilling for any dialogue,” he testified.
He said he was not aware of any agreement between Julakay and the villagers after an initial D15.000 was given, but confirmed an MoU signed between the alkalo and Julakay allowing him to mine on the site which he said was mentioned in his presence at the local government office.
He said there was a meeting convened by the former IGP involving all the stakeholders at which the authorities agreed that Julakay was licensed to mine and that he should be allowed to operate, but the youths insisted that mining will inhibit the women’s horticultural gardens.
“I was in Brikama when the incident started, and received a call from my daughter-in-law of a row between the youths and PIU officers at the mining site. She informed me that the VDC were approaching my home in large crowds. Minutes later, I received another call that they broke into my compound with petrol and weapons and knocked the fence down. They broke my pillars and uprooted the main gate and burnt the houses.”
He said since then he has not returned to Faraba because he was advised that he might be killed if he were to go back.
He produced a list of lost items and their prices and a document indicating value price of his burnt compound. “In every village there should be an authority and order but that was not in place since the youths were not listening to us anymore,” Sanyang lamented.