“The land belongs to Sengbeh chiefdom and all taxpayers should pay their taxes to Sengbeh” Local government minister.
By Abdul M. Jalloh in Kabala
A high-powered delegation consisting the Minister of Local Government, Tamba Lamina, Permanent Secretary, Thomas D. Lansana, The Provincial Secretary North, Simeon Fartoma and others tried to settle a controversial land dispute in Koinadugu district but to no avail. The land dispute between Sengbeh and Wara Wara Yagala chiefdoms has been on going for over 15 years now.
Tamba Lamina, Local Government Minister said the land dispute has been ongoing for over a decade. The first ruling was done in 2008 by the late provincial secretary A. R. Dumbuya after an administrative investigation, he said.
“The documents were then forwarded to the Ministry of Local Government and the District Office in Koinadugu District. Government is continuity and therefore the ruling cannot be overturned by me this time round.” The Minister said. Hon. Lamina further explained that he’s not making a new pronouncement/ruling but just reechoing the Ministry’s position which was made years ago.
The 2008 resolution– Minister Lamina said in 2008, government arrived at a resolution that the land belongs to Sengbeh chiefdom, and that verdict still stands and valid.
“All houses constructed in the area should start paying local taxes to Sengbeh Chiefdom, the current town chief in the disputed area should transfer his loyalty to Sengbeh Chiefdom-to Hon. PC Alie Ballasama Marah the 3rd, and if the Paramount Chief of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom has other documents to justify his claims of ownership, such should be forwarded to H.E. President Bio and the Ministry of Local Government,” Lamina added.
The local government minister also advised the two Paramount Chiefs to maintain peace and coexistence in the area as sister chiefdoms with common history, and traditions.
Meanwhile, some aggrieved parties to the conflict disagree with the Minister’s pronouncement. Speaking to TV Salone and Mountain Waves News, the District Officer for Koinadugu District, Idrissa Kamara disclosed that, the matter in question is still under review on the demarcated land dispute. He said residents of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom calls the place “Kawosor” whilst the Sengbeh Chiefdom people calls it “Worsokoroma”
Mr. Kamara said, the Minister first held a meeting with members of the District Security Committee (DISEC) where he discussed with the two Paramount Chiefs about the issue before the verdict and pronouncement.
This came following the recent visit of President Julius Maada Bio to the district where he met with Paramount Chiefs and that issue also came up. “Government represented by the minister has made the ruling. I’m advising people to be law abiding as the Minister’s ruling is a government policy and should be respected. We at the DISEC have also done a lot to calm down the situation,” he added.
The District Officer disclosed that, there’s hope on the pipe line and the ministry is currently capturing other potential boundary conflict areas like Bible School, Peterya Kamaneneh, Bilmaia and others.
“For over four years working in Koinadugu District and as the current DISEC Chairman, boundaries are not clearly defined in many areas here. Therefore, I’ll make it a priority to work with the ministry to address these issues” he said.
According to him, Government is currently doing paperwork to collate all those areas and will solicit funds to set up a committee that will look at that boundary disputes all over the country.
There are several other boundary issues in Tonkolili, Kalian and Kunike Fullahwusu Chiefdom in Tonkolili District, Between Nenie and Sandon Chiefdom in Koinadugu District and in Falaba District, Folosaba Kamba and Musaia Chiefdom has some land clashes.
“There’s still room for negotiation for aggrieved parties but people shouldn’t take the law into their hands. This decision is not politically influenced because we’re civil servants and our role is to implement Government Policies.
The police has been alerted to be on the standby and we expect everyone to comply. Please accept the decision and move forward with development.” Mr. Kamara added.
In an interview with the Paramount Chief of Sengbeh Chiefdom, Koinadugu District, Honorable PC Alie Ballasama Marah 3rd, he said, it’s important and timely that the Government sent the Local Government Minister and his entourage to lay the land matter to rest for peace to reign. He added that, the previous ruling was done in 2008 during the regime of the Former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma which was correct devoid of political interference.
“Ruling in favor of Sengbeh Chiefdom today should not come as a surprise because this is the second. We have been patient for a very long time for peace to reign. It’s painful though to see the land encroachment taking place and I have never sold a single plot of land there. They have sold plots of land from us by establishing a new town. But in the interest of peace, we will continue to coexist as the location has been officially handed over to him on Friday with full authority” PC Marrah added.
PC Alie Balla Sama Marrah said all occupants of the land should have a meeting with him soon to talk on terms and conditions of staying in the place. He clearly defined his position that, his case was established on “Worsokoroma” and not Kawosor as the People from Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom call that area.
PC Marah the 3rd also said that, copies of the ruling documents are available and ready to be shared to the public further consumption.
PC. Gbawuru Mansaray of Wara Wara Yagala chiefdom has not yet responded to the pronouncement of the local government minister. But by all indications, chiefdom stakeholders of Wara Wara Yagala who have been controlling the area for years are unhappy with the twist of events. Sources say, a local stakeholder of the disputed area died few days ago. The provincial secretary who started the settlement also died before completing it, according to residents familiar with the issue. Only time will tell if this settlement will hold in the district which is rich in culture and traditions.
More on this in the coming weeks.