After court clears VDC in land scandal
By Omar Bah
Residents of Kassa Kunda on Sunday called a meeting to update the public on the latest development regarding a court case filed against the VDC over the alleged selling of a portion of the village’s forest.
Last year, the West Coast Region governor ordered for the removal of the Kassa Kunda alkalo without giving reasons but the alkalo Cherno Sabally said when he was invited by the Chief about his dismissal, he was told that Sana Sabally and others requested for him to be removed because he is blind. The alkalo was also accused of conniving with the VDC to sell part of the village forest. Following the dismissal, hundreds of Kassa Kunda residents mobilised themselves to show solidarity with the dismissed village alkalo demanding his reinstatement.
Few weeks later, the Department of Forestry filed a case at the Brikama Magistrate court against Kalilu Sanyang, Jalang Sanneh, Malang Jarju, Bakary Gomez, Modou Jawo, Saikou Badjie and Sunkaru, all members of the Village Development Committee (VDC) accusing them of selling part of the forest. The case was dismissed by Magistrate F Darboe who ruled that the filing of the suit was misadvised.
Addressing journalists on Sunday, the Kassa Kunda VDC spokesperson, Bakary Sanneh, said now that the village VDC and the alkalo have been vindicated by the Brikama Magistrates’ Court, the government should unconditionally reinstate the alkalo with immediate effect. He insisted that the dismissal of the alkalo didn’t follow due process. “We want to tell the whole world that the accusation levelled against the VDC and the alkalo is false. We also want to demand that the Ministry of Local Government reinstate our alkalo. Mr President, there is growing consensus that the decision to dismiss our alkalo came from the top. We want to tell you that the decision is illegal. There is no legal justification for this removal,” he said. Sanneh added that the villagers have agreed that they will never recognise the current alkalo. “We have little over 100 compounds and 95 of those compounds are with the dismissed alkalo and out of the four founding families of Kassa Kunda, three have equivocally rejected the appointment of the new alkalo,” he said.
He advised the government to stop playing a deaf ear to the alkalo crisis because it could potentially degenerate into chaos.