Dozens of individuals who claim to be natives of Sukuta converged at Salagi last month to express their anger and frustration at the seizure of their ancestral farmlands by the regime of dictator Yahya Jammeh. Those who gathered to express their anger claim that the area known today as Salagi is actually theirs and was taken from them without any compensation from the then dictatorial regime of Jammeh.
They called for the urgent intervention of The Gambia Government to solve the matter and expressing their fear that if the matter is left unchecked, it could get out of hand given the allegations of illegal land selling by officials of the Local Government and Lands, Department of Lands and Department of Physical Planning.
The concerned parties accused Ansu Fatty, Musa Badgie, Kebba Ceesay, Mamudu Manjang, Ensa Camara, Lamin Jawara and Saikou Sanyang all senior officials of the Local Government, Lands and Physical Planning for illegally selling their farmlands at Salagi on the pretext that Salagi is a designated layout/estate.
The said officials are also accused of randomly distributing plots of land to APRC “Yai Compins”, APRC Mobilisers, senior government officials of both the past and present governments, their own relatives and families living in the diaspora and in some cases, even to their girlfriends.
“We gathered here today to make our final call to the government to intervene in this Salagi issue before it gets out of hand. We cannot fold our hands and see people from other regions selling our lands pretending that it is the government that is selling our lands. We are calling on the government to stop this madness otherwise we may see what is even worse than what happened at Faraba”, said Alh. Morro Beyai, a native of Sukuta expressed his anger.
Beyai said Salagi has been clandestinely taken from the people of Sukuta by corrupt government officials during the regime of Yahya Jammeh without any government approval to designate the area as a layout or an estate.
He said the former President categorically made it clear at a rally in Sukuta ahead of the 2016 presidential elections that he has no hands in the creation of an estate or a layout at Salagi, adding that Jammeh authorized the then Minister of Local Government to solve the matter immediately, but this never happened.
“We have exhausted almost all avenues that we can take to get back our lands. All other avenues to file our complaint have been blocked just so we feel frustrated and abandon our cause but we are not moving an inch and we will fight until our lands are given back to us”, Alh. Morro Beyai maintained.
Ousman Bojang, another Sukuta native, alleged that he has been arrested on numerous occasions by law enforcement officials for defending his inheritance right, adding that similar experiences have been encountered by other Sukuta natives who are laying claims to their lands at Salagi.
“We cannot compromise on this issue of Salagi, it is our farmland belonging to seven Kabilos in Sukuta and the government has never officially designated this place as a layout or an estate. What is going on is a few local government officials conspiring and engaging in illegal selling of lands against the will of the rightful families and Kabilos at Sukuta”, Bojang disclosed.
According to Bojang, hundreds of Sukuta natives are still living in their family compounds without any hope of getting even a 30 by 30 meter plot of land in Kombo, alleging that the government forcefully took all their ancestral lands and left them living destitute in their own community.
Bojang further maintained that any son or daughter of Sukuta who claims ownership of his/her land at Salagi is either arrested, detained or persecuted for any unjust reason, adding that the youths are now ready to arrest the situation that has been going on unabated.
“We also want to warn anyone planning to buy a home at Salagi to withdraw. We also want to warn people who are rushing to start construction on our lands to stop otherwise they may risk demolition. This is the position of the youths of Sukuta and we want the government to be aware of our position”, Bojang stated on behalf of the youths of Sukuta.
Lamin “Langboy” Cham said he personally challenged officials of the Local Government and Lands Ministry to produce the Master Plan of Salagi, but to this date this hasn’t happened, warning that the youths of Sukuta are fed up with fighting over lands that are rightfully theirs and if the government fails to intervene, the youths of Sukuta will intervene to solve the matter.
“If Gambia Government fails to solve the Salagi issue, we the youths of Sukuta will do so”, Langboy warned.