By Kebba Jeffang Sergeant Sheriffo Barrow, a CID officer attached to Sanyang police station, who testified as the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the ongoing land case involving ten people, including women, told the lower court in Brikama that the accused persons were arrested and prosecuted following an instruction in a memo from the Office of the President. The ten are accused of encroaching into the president’s land in Tujereng and surrounding. They all denied the allegation. When the case was called before Magistrate Omar Cham on Thursday, 26th March 2015, Chief Inspector (CI) Kebba Fadera announced his representation of the IGP while Lawyers Borry S. Touray and Lamin S. Camara, counsels for the accused persons, were not present in court. However, CI Fadera applied for the proceeding to continue in the absence of the defence lawyers for the interest of a speedy trial. He said he wished to continue with his witness to give his evidence in chief and be available for cross examination when the defence lawyers are in court. This application was granted by the court and the matter thereafter proceeded with the testimony of the first prosecution witness (PW1). While in the witness box, he identified himself as a CID (Criminal Investigation Division) officer with regimental number 1387 and added that he is attached to Sanyang police station in the Kmbo South district of West Coast Region (WCR). He said he recognised the accused persons and can recall that something had happened between them in November and December, 2014 as he was assigned to deal with their case. He said it was on the 26th November last year when they received a memo from the office of the president. “When I say ‘we’ I am referring to the police, NIA and the local government and lands ministry. The memo was addressed to the ministry, the police and the NIA stating the encroachment of lands in Tujereng, Kumkujang, Sambouya, Tintinto and Tanenen communities. The investigation panel was then formed and during the investigation it was found out that the accused persons encroached on the president’s lands in Tujereng. We then met Malick Camara (4th accused), who is the Alkalo of Banyaka, and he confirmed that he prepared the transfer documents for Tujereng. He did this without confirming the area. It was found out that the said place belongs to President Yahya Jammeh,” testified PW1. At this juncture, the prosecuting officer showed him the transfer documents that were already tendered for identification. After identifying them, the prosecution applied to tender the documents as exhibits. However, this was turned down by the magistrate who maintained that since the said documents were already tendered earlier in the case when some of the accused pleaded, they can still continue to serve the same purpose without re-tendering them. The witness then continued his testimony and said during the investigation at Tintinto, some members of the community living there alleged that some people, not the accused persons before the court, have encroached on their grave yard. He said such an allegation was later found out to be untrue. PW1 told the court that during the same investigation carried out at Tanenen, the allegation of encroachment was also found to be untrue, but this did not involved any of the accused persons. “At Sambouya, the Manjagoes claimed that their land was sold to Global Properties Company by the Jabang Kunda people in Gunjur. They are the people before this court. They were invited to the police station for questioning but they insisted that the land belongs to them and was acquired by traditional ways from their ancestors. They said it is their land that is why they sold it to Global Properties. As an investigation panel, we confirmed that it was sold to Global Properties through the land ownership document,” said PW1. The prosecutor, CI Fadera, applied to tender the land ownership document as exhibit. It was shown and the contents explained in the Mandinka language which all the accused persons understood but there was no objection from any of the accused persons. The land ownership document dated 4th December 2014 from Global Properties and given to the panel of investigators was therefore admitted and marked Exhibit C. “The panel prepared and submitted a report to the Office of the President (OP) and two weeks later another memo came from the Office of the President stating that all those who took part in the sales of the lands shall be arrested and prosecuted. We appended our signatures on the report,” CID Sergeant Barrow said. At this stage, the matter was adjourned to 8 April, 2015 at 11pm for the witness to be cross examined by the defence counsels.]]>

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