By Louise Jobe
The Community of Niji have threatened to sue their neighbours in Omorto village, for encroaching onto their farmlands.
The two communities are neighbouring villages in the Kombo East District of the West Coast Region.
People in the community of Niji who spoke to this reporter, said one Pa Sainey Badjie has been cutting down trees on their village farmlands for his agricultural project; that authorities in the village of Omoroto, encroached onto their farmlands to give a 1,000 meter square area of land, to Pa Sainey Badjie for his project.
Alkali Sanyang, the village head of Niji said the land dispute between their two communities has been ongoing for two decades now; that authorities in Omorto have been allocating their farmlands to people without their consent for years. Sanyang said they have engaged the local authorities to address the issue to no avail, and called on the Local Government Authorities to step in, in order to avoid what could lead to a full-blown clash between the two villages. Sanyang said the land given to Pa Sainey Badjie is located deep in the farmlands of Niji and not Omorto; that the land is 500 meters from their village bantaba, but more than 1.5 kilometres away from Omorto village.
Sanyang said they have invited the Alkalo of Omorto village to discuss the issue to no avail; that the District Chief was invited but he appeared once and that was the end of it. He added that the district Chief once sent a delegation of Alkalos to visit the area, and that was also the end of their mission since then.
Salifu Kujabi, the Alkalo of Omorto village, said the land in dispute was originally theirs, well before it was offered to Pa Sainey Badjie for agricultural purposes. He narrated that the land in question belongs to the Kujabi, Colley and Badjie Kunda families of Omorto village; that these were the three “kabilos” who sat to discuss the issue and agreed to give the land to Pa Sainey Badjie, for his agriculture project.
Salifu Kujabi said according to history, the community of Niji are settled in their farm lands; that their grandfather used to give land to people to do farm work. Kujabi admitted that the Alkalo of Niji had one time invited him to a meeting and he did not go because he did not want to meet without the village elders.
When contacted, Bakary K. Sanyang, the Governor of West Coast Region, told this reporter that he was about to travel on an official mission to the Casamance region of Senegal and will be back on Thursday. He however told this reporter that he invited the two Alkalos to a discussion to settle the dispute; that he once sent a delegation to them on the issue.
This reporter contacted the Chief to shed light on this issue, but to no avail.