BY ARAMATA JATA
The Gambia’s Land Commission, an advisory body empowered to investigate land, disputes and assigned to look into the root cause of land disputes has become a toothless Bulldog as lack of powers and resources looms it’s ugly face on them.
Justice Raymond lamented that “We need to go back to the Act and make sure the Act provides powers to the commission to effectively do its job. Therefore the powers are necessary”
Members of the Land Commission were on Monday 17 September 2018 sworn in, in a ceremony held at Statehouse in Banjul. The Commission comprises of five members, Justice Raymond Sock as Chairperson, Buba Barry, Nancy Nyang, Momodou S. Jobe, and Kemo Conteh as members.
Section 192 of the Constitution makes provision for the National Assembly to enact a law providing for the establishment of a land commission.
Chairman of the Land Commission Justice Raymond C. Sock while addressing the National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government and Lands, Ombudsman and IEC on Monday October 5th 2020 said Land commission Act should be taken back to the drawing board.
He said the constitution states that an Act of the National Assembly shall establish a commission giving its Composition, functions and its powers.
But that was never the case, Chairman argued, as when the Act was promulgated there were provisions for the composition of the commission there is no provisions for the functions and no provision for the powers.
Justice Raymond lamented that “We need to go back to the Act and make sure the Act provides powers to the commission, we has to conceptualize the Act of the commission and state why we need this commission, what is the commission to do and what are the problems that the commission has to address in our community and how to address them . Therefore the powers are necessary”
He said they are asked to investigate all land disputes from all parts of the country and yet they don’t have any powers to summon witnesses and documents.
” We don’t have powers to make any interim decisions moreover we don’t even have the financial resources or the material resources to enable five people to investigate the whole of Gambia. That’s impossible without financial and material resources”
He explained that If you go down to their functions you will see that, there are certain difficulties in terms of implementation because as the Commission do not have the powers or the resources to do so.
This body on a normal circumstance should settle dispute, talk about rate and even any matter concerning land boundaries of the Gambia should be decided by them
Justice Raymond questions how they can decide on such matter without a vehicle, “so we have to make sure we understand why we need the commission, what we want the commission to do and how the commission is going to be empowered to effectively execute its functions under the act”.