By Omar Bah
The Ministry of Lands and Regional Government has reacted to a recent story published by The Standard about a Gambian based in the US, Muhammed Jawara.
In the detailed story published last Tuesday, the US-based Gambian accused the ministry of acting in bad faith in the Pirang land dispute involving him and one Winston E.E. Able Thomas, a land dealer.
Jawara alleged that the said land was bought by himself and Sulayman Jawara from Muhamadou Touray and his brothers of Pirang Berending. But according to him, Thomas allegedly sold part of the land to one Muhammed Jagana.
But the Lands Ministry’s in a rebuttal sent to this medium by its spokesperson, said the claims made by Jawara are “devoid of major facts essential for a complete understanding of the issue. Thus, the Ministry is compelled to react to Mr Jawara’s erroneous claims through the same medium.”
The full statement is reproduced herein:
“The Ministry of Lands and Regional Government is taken aback by the recent story on the Standard Newspaper accusing the Ministry of “acting in bad faith in the Pirang land dispute.” In fact, that story is devoid of major facts essential for a complete understanding of the issue. Thus, the Ministry is compelled to react to Mr Jawara’s erroneous claims through the same medium.
For context, it is appropriate to state that in as recent as a couple of years ago, the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government was contending with issues relating to leasing one customary parcel of land to two different applicants, mainly due to the archaic data management system that was in place. However, with the aid of the GPS coordinate technology, the Ministry is now able to build a database that allows for each parcel to be geo-referenced using its coordinate points as unique identification numbers. This upgrade effectively helps the Ministry mitigate incidents of leasing one parcel of customary land to two different individuals.
Now to the fact in issue, on the 07th April 2020, the Department of Physical Planning & Housing (DPPH) received an application for a Land Use Report from Muhammed A. Jawara and Sulayman Jawara for a property in Pirang village (bearing its coordinates points), which was sold to them by Mr Momodou Touray. Upon computation of the supposed Jawara’s property coordinates into the Ministry’s coordinate system, it became apparent that Mr Jawara’s plot falls within an existing property already documented in the name of “Limz Organic Farm.” Remarkably, Limz Organic Farm also acquired its property from the same Momodou Touray on the 8th May, 2000. In essence, a potential conflict on the land ownership was identified; hence Mr. Jawara’s application for a Land use report was refused. Similarly, in March 2020 Physical Planning received three applications for a land use clearance from Limz Organic farms transferring portions of the said land to three different applicants, same was also refused on the basis that there is already a known dispute in the area.
When Mr Jawara’s land dispute case was reported to the Permanent Secretary’s (PS) office, the office immediately contacted the Local Authorities in Kombo East and Mr Momodou Touray (The Seller), with the sole intent to resolve the conflict. A meeting was held at the office of the PS with the Chief of Kombo East, the Alkalos of Tubakuta & Pirang and Momodou Touray. During the meeting Momodou admitted selling land to both Limz Organic Farms and Muhammed Jawara, but was quick to state that the sites do not overlap. Consequently, a site visit was proposed to verify Momodou Touray’s claim. It’s important to note that the Ministry would not hesitate to issue Mr Jawara with a Land Use Report if it can establish beyond reasonable doubt that he has a legitimate and legal claim to the land.
The alleged “Police Investigation Report” reproduced by the Standard Newspaper in Mr Jawara’s story “recommended for the file to be taken to the Attorney General’s Chambers for legal advice.” Based on that alleged Police report, it is indicative that the investigation has yet to conclude on the dispute.
However, Mr Jawara in his delusional mind is still arrogantly working under the assumption that the Department of Physical Planning should issue him a Land Use Clearance, irrespective of the pending investigations. Thus, one has to wonder whether Mr Jawara doesn’t understand the due process and procedures – as it pertains to both parties- or he is mentally deranged and incapable of logical thought process, as strongly suggested by his unsubstantiated newspaper rants and the threatening text message he sent to the Kombo East District Chief and the former Regional Physical Officer in West Coast Region.
To be clear, the Ministry will not issue Mr Jawara a Land Use Report as long as the land dispute between him and Limz Organic Farm remains unresolved. Furthermore, since its impartiality and credibility is being questioned, the Ministry will immediately suspend all engagements in the resolution of this dispute until appropriate conditions are established.
Meanwhile, the Ministry is willing to meet Mr Jawara in Court should he choose to contest any aspects of its assertions. In fact, the Ministry encourages Mr Jawara to exercise his right to sue. The Ministry welcomes an assertive Mr. Jawara but it will not tolerate an unduly aggressive and insolent Mr Jawara.”