Scores of residents of Brufut have expressed their disapproval of the alleged sale of a leasehold land belonging to Laurent Gbagbo, former President of Ivory Coast, among other properties registered under the names of lands belonging to former President Yahya Jammeh that were recommended by the Janneh Commission and accepted by the Government Whitepaper to be returned to the Brufut community.
The alleged sale of the land of the former Ivorian President came to the fore following the bulldozing and demarcation of Korfiyoung farms, another property belonging to former president Yahya Jammeh.
Gbagbo became President of the Ivory Coast in 2000 but was arrested in 2011 after refusing to concede defeat in the election won by his then-opponent Alassana Ouattara, the current President of Ivory Coast.
The civil conflict between Gbagbo’s forces and supporters of Ouattara led to the deaths of around 3,000 people. However, Gbagbo was acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes committed during the conflict in 2021.
It would be recalled that lands under the name of former President Jammeh in Brufut were recommended by the Janneh Commission to be returned to the community for public utilities.
However, reports from Brufut are alleging the village Alkalo Malamin Kayorr Manneh and other Brufut Bulundala have connived with some members of the original owners of the lands to sell the properties without the knowledge of VDC or members of the community.
One source familiar with the situation revealed that the decision of the Alkalo and his collaborators comes on the heels of many engagements held with officials of Physical Planning and Lands after the release of the government whitepaper, observing that this decision is against the dictates of the Janneh Commission and Government Whitepaper that recommended the properties return to the community for use as social amenities.
Another source, who spoke with this medium, observed that the sale of these properties was not only approved by the Alkalo and collaborators but equally authorized by both the Physical Planning Department and Lands Department, revealing that even though Janneh Commission and Government White paper all recommended the return and use for public amenities, local and state authorities proceeded to demarcate and put up the properties for sale.
He said the Alkalo and collaborators agreed with the Physical Planning and Lands Department to share the lands on a 40:60 percent ratio, adding that the 40 percent is for the Alkalo, Elders of Bulundala, and original owners of the grounds, while the 60 percent was given to some officials of Physical Planning and Lands on the pretext that 60 percent will be returned to the state.
Momodou Jallow, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Brufut Village Development Committee (VDC), confirmed the boundary of the Korfiyoung farms formerly belonging to ex-President Yahya Jammeh but affirmed the sale and limitation of the land belonging to former Ivorian President Ronald Mbagbo.
PRO Jallow further revealed that the VDC had not been put in the picture regarding any sale of land recommended for return to the community for social use, adding that any sale of property belonging to former President Jammeh by either the Alkali or another authority goes against the recommendations of the Janneh Commission and Government White paper.
He said the VDC would engage Alkalo and his alleged collaborators to get to the crux before deciding.
Malamin Kayorr Manneh, Alkalo of Brufut, was contacted to shed light on the matter, but he declined to speak. However, when questioned further, he directed our reporter to the Ministry of Lands for answers.
Efforts to get the views of the Department of Physical Planning and Lands proved futile.