By Adama Makasuba
More than 30 Gambians are demanding and striving hard to recover back their plots of lands that were ‘illegally’ seized by exiled former President Yahya Jammeh in Batokunku village, these lands were turned into a gardening field since.
Most of these victims reside in the United States and Europe, and they promised to allow those gardeners to continue their works for surviving purpose as they said they only want to secure their properties with erected fences to avoid future loopholes.
Speaking to reporters, Assan Jallow, a US-based Gambian, who is one of the victims along with six of his family members said after Jammeh sent men with guns to storm and dismantle their homes illegally without any notification.
“Our family is about six they all have a plot here each and we bought these plots around 2006 and 2007 and all fenced completely, so one-day Yahya Jammeh just came and dismantled the fenced,” he explained.
However, he suspected that some top officials in the Barrow’s administration might still be playing tactics to ensure they don’t get their lands, as the matter has been dragging for too long since the coming into power of the Barrow-led government five years ago.
“But when Jammeh left and the new government came into power, we were meant to believe that there is an established land commission who asked the state to return our lands but there are certain people who we believe are on top delaying the process.
“One-thing we suspected is that they want to use these people to work here so that anytime we plan to come to start work, they would say no you cannot because these people are working here, it is where they depend for their livelihood,” he lamented.
He however assured and made it clear that they don’t have problems with that, “anytime we fence our plots, we will put proper boreholes and allow them to continue working there.”
According to him, they were requested to take their lands documents to the Governor’s Office, but added that “since we took our documents there, we have not heard anything positive and any door that we knock is with no positive news.”
He continued “Now, we also say that since they don’t want to listen to us over our properties, we are going ahead to fence our plots of lands. What we need is to secure our plots of lands to avoid any future problem because in the past we did lose it to Yahya Jammeh and now, we just not going to sit back and let them use that strategy over us again.”
“But in the meantime, no-one will stop us from securing our plots of lands and we will start erecting the fences, unless they come and arrest us and we will allow those people working here to continue their works,” Jallow said.
Ajaratou Madam Jobe, another victim said they have reported the matter to the Ministry of Justice and defunct Janneh Commission, be they only “want to identify the plots before other people come and take our plots of lands because is our properties, we have spent a lot of money on them.”
“I have a plot of land here long time and I developed it and fenced it but I was called one day that they have destroyed the homes and I came here and found uniformed men with guns destroying the homes with bulldozers. I asked them what happened why are they destroying the homes and they replied: it’s an order from the top,” she said.