By Mafugi Ceesay
& Mariam Sankanu
Villagers from Mandinary, Makumbaya, Kerewan and Lamin over the weekend called a press conference at the Mandinary Lower Basic School grounds to renew their unbending desire to take back their ancestral land, which is now settling a village called Babylon located south of the Banjul Airport.
The protracted dispute between these villagers and the Alkalo of Babylon Lamin Jarjue had led to court cases and even imprisonment for some of the people who are still agitating for the return of the said land.
The four villages have alleged the land was illegally settled on by Alkalo Lamin Jajue, who then sold it to people before it became Babylon.
Jarju has always denied those claims since, leading to protracted legal and other battles over the land.
At the press conference, representatives from each of the villages took turns to warn that their patience has now run out, threatening that if the government fails to find a solution, they will find one for themselves.
Kebba Jammeh, a representative from Makumbaya expressed his disappointment in both the current and former governments for not giving them the justice they deserve.
Jammeh said what is mind-boggling about the whole thing is that efforts by a combination of four villages could not bring one man to his sense after more than a decade.
Yankuba Touray, who was representing the Alkalo of Kerewan, alleged that the self-appointed Alkalo of Babylon Lamin had sold the land in question to top government officials who have now built solid buildings there and therefore not keen to listen to reason over the matter.
One Mr Jallow, a former Councilor of Lamin warned that government should recognize these early warring signals in this particular case to avoid another Faraba incident. Asked why they could not wait for government to provide a permanent solution through the passing of new land policies, Jallow said they have enough empty promises from both the Jammeh and Barrow governments. “We have pursued so many legal and lawful fronts to solve this problem but to no avail. All we are looking for is to get our lands back and Lamin Jarjue to be evicted from Babylon,” Kebba Jammeh said.
The disgruntled villagers claimed they were promised that funding has now come for the Physical Planning to conduct demarcation of the land in dispute but that is yet to be done and even after they themselves raised D150, 000 for the job to be done, they were assured by Interior Minister Mballow that funding is already available for the exercise which they claimed is still not done.
According to them, at least 95 of them from these four villages have been sent to prison over the issue with 25 of them dying in prison.