Trade Unionist, Lincoln Lewis, appeared before Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh at the Weldaad Magistrate’s Court on Friday to answer the charge of assault and the use of threatening language.
The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress is accused of threatening and assaulting Radesh Lall on August 13, at Kingelly Village, West Coast Berbice, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).
Lall was also charged with the same offences and both parties were released on their own recognisance. They will make their next court appearance on September 30.
The incident stemmed from a dispute between Lewis and residents of Kingelly Village, over ancestral lands dating back to the 1960s. The residents are alleging that Lewis is attempting to seize the land that has been in their possession for years.
The residents are accusing Lewis of a barefaced attempt to seize hundreds of acres of land at Kingelly already in their possession. The issue has resulted in various forms of litigation as well as a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into claims made by Lewis that the properties are part of his ancestral inheritance.
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall has said that there are no records of any Transport at the Land Registry to prove that several acres of land at Kingelly are in fact ancestral lands belonging to the linage of trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, as he is claiming.
While in Opposition, Nandlall had worked with residents of the Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) village to secure prescriptive titles for the lands that they use for farming purposes including as pastures for their cattle.
The Attorney General recounted that in 2017 Lewis first made the claims during the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into African ancestral land established by the then David Granger Administration. It was there he produced a transport which he claimed was ancestral lands bought by his great great grandfather.
Nandlall had represented around 25 to 30 residents and obtained prescriptive rights from the Land Court for them.
However, weeks ago, Lewis turned up at Kingelly and claimed ownership of the lands that he said was part of his ancestral inheritance. He was in the company of two others including a member of the Kingelly Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
Not only did Lewis renew his claims to the lands but he also tore down fencing that residents had elected and proceeded to build his own fence in order to block residents from accessing the lands.
The confrontation between Lewis and the residents was captured on video. In that video, he was claiming ownership of the lands and as such, was asked by the residents to produce same. At one point, he had even pushed down a post that residents had erected.
The residents, most of whom said they were born and grew up there, claim that they have lived and farmed on the lands for decades after inheriting it from their parents and/or grandparents. They were using the lands mostly as pastures.
According to the residents, Lewis is claiming the lands because he was supposed to sell them off.
After that incident, the villagers travelled to Georgetown and met with several ministers including Housing, Public Works and Local Government as well as Nandlall himself, seeking to have redress.