By Louise Jobe
The village of Babylon in the Kombo North District of the West Coast Region, on Sunday March 3rd 2019, organised a press briefing at their village “Bantaba”.
The aim of the press briefing was to express their disappointment regarding an announcement that was carried on radio stations and some media outlets, that Babylon is not an officially recognized settlement, and that Lamin Jarju is not an Alkalo.
Jarju, whose grandfather was the founder of Babylon, said the press briefing was called by the Village Development committee (VDC), to voice out their concerns regarding these misplaced remarks about his village that was also carried on air by media outlets.
Jarju told the press that he has legal documents including certificate of occupancy from the High Court of the Gambia regarding the village; that he inherited the land from his grandfather who was the first person to settle and passed away, in Babylon. Jarju asserted that he has been to Court with families who claimed ownership of their land, and won all the cases; that he has all the documents to prove this.
Landing Jadama, another resident who spoke to journalist, said he bought his land since the year 2006 from the Alkalo Lamin Jarju; that when he first went to Babylon to buy his land and met Lamin Jarju (Alkalo), he was taken shown a piece of land which he appreciated, and decided to buy. He said Jarju produced documents which were read to him; that the documents were from the High Court regarding the estate of Bakary Jarju, the present Alkalo’s parents; that this was a letter of administration given to him by Government, empowering him as village administrator. Jadama said because of this confidence that he had, he invested his money like others before and after him, to purchase land in Babylon, for settlement.
Again, Jarju produced another document that shows that the Gambia National Gazzette featured Babylon as a registered settlement since 1915, with a population of fourteen people by then; that all these were factors that they relied on, to buy their lands for settlement.
Pa Saho, a member of the council of elders of Babylon said what is happening to their village was unlawful. He said he was surprised to hear the announcements on air about their village. Pa Saho said the present Chief of Kombo North visited Babylon and informed them that all rates and taxes of the village should be collected and paid at the Brikama Area Council (BAC); adding they have paid close to one million dalasi at BAC this year alone. He concluded by urging the authorities to find out facts on the village, before they act.