By Adama Tine
Residents of Kombo Sotokoi, including their Alkalo, the Imam and the different kabilo owners last Saturday convened a press conference to discuss multiple issues, including the demolition of already built houses by the owner of Unity Properties, owned by a Sudanese national, Abdou Majid.
The villagers therefore called on the government to address the land dispute before it gets out of control, adding that land disputes have now become a course for concern for most Gambians.
Speaking at the press conference, Haddijatou Njie, a victim of land grabbing said her land had been affected and therefore called on the government to address the matter.
“All our properties have been demolished. I asked who demolished our properties and for what reason, then I was told it was Omar Bojang, a resident of Brusubi who claimed ownership of the lands,” she said.
However, Ms Njie said when they (victims) contacted Omar Bojang and the estate agency owner Abdou Magid, they asked them; “get out of here, you don’t have anything here.”
She questioned how a resident of Brusubi can claim ownership of their lands in Sotokoi, adding that Omar Bojang claimed ownership for about 450 metres of land that belonged to her family.
“I believe the country has laws. Therefore, how can someone demolish our lands without giving us any information? None of us acquired that land illegally,” she further said.
She added that it was Omar Bojang who demolished their lands and sold them to Abdou Magid.
“It is very sad! If you go to the Department of Physical Planning they will tell you everything was based on law,” Ms Njie lamented. “We want Bojang to take us to court if he really believes he is the right owner of the properties he claims,” she adds.
She stated that she was not moving from her property and that she was ready to challenge the matter to court.
Abdoulie Manneh, another land owner whose land was also affected said they are ready to do anything to get their lands back.
He said the documents for the land that Omar Bojang sold to Abdou Magid of Unity Properties were never issued by the Alkalo of Sotokoi but rather the documents were from Brusubi. He questioned how someone can buy land in Sotokoi and get documents from Brusubi.
Manneh added that some of them bought their lands over two decades ago. Speaking on behalf of the victims of land grabbing, he appealed to the government and all parties involved to take action and settle the land disputes in the country.
“Land issues have become the talk of town and the government needs to step up before it is too late,” he appealed.