Gambia: Essau Land Dispute in Court

Essau Magistrate's Court presided over by Magistrate E. Sowe, on Tuesday 27th August, heard the testimony of one Sora Sonko who was asking the court to make an order restraining the defendant, Morro Kebba Ceesay, from entering and encroaching on his land.

The plaintiff has also asked the Court to make an order restraining the defendant from interfering with his piece of land. Both plaintiff and defendant are native of Essau in the North Bank Region of the country where the Suitland is situated.

"I've been cultivating the land for thirty years and no one has ever challenge my ownership of the land," said the plaintiff.

Sonko said his uncle Sanna Sonko gave him the land in dispute. He said one Fakebba Sonko was present when the land was been given to him by his uncle, adding the land was later shown to the district chief, Jola Daffeh. He said he stopped working on the farm after he underwent surgery.

"Then, I removed my wires that fenced the land and took it to my compound where I have a garden. There are some mango trees, cashew trees and a 'malina' tree on the boundary," witness described the disputed land.

During cross examination, the defendant asked: "why have you not gone to court since then?" The witness answered: "You did not trespass on my land."

Defendant challenged the plaintiff whether he had documents to prove he owns the land and PW1 replied: "I don't have the documents with me here but I can bring them next week."

Defendant continued and said no one from the Sonko Kunda fanily in Essau ever challenged his title deed to the land in dispute. "Fakebba is not alive, but other family members of the Sonko Kunda clan are 'present', why did you not call them to court?" the defendant asked. PW1 answered that he would call one of them in the next sitting. Defendant asked plaintiff whether he had ever asked him to stop going to the disputed land prior to visiting the court, PW1, answered: "I don't know." Defendant put it to the witness that he too had been cultivating the farm for thirty years without the plaintiff visiting the courts. "Because all the time, you didn't trespass on my land but now you trespass in my land and that is why I brought you to court," answered PW1.

At this juncture, the case was adjourned to 3rd September for continuation of hearing.

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