By: King Brown ( Correspondent Grand Bassa County)
BUCHANAN CITY, GRAND BASSA COUNTY – Several residents of Bacconie/Bleewein Community in Grand Bassa 3rd administrative district on Monday took the principal streets of Buchanan to demand the rights to ownership of their ancestor’s land.
The inhabitants of the surrounding towns and villages in Bleewein and Bacconie Communities quoted Chapter 9, article 34, sections 1&2, and chapter 3, article 9, section 4, of the 2018 Liberia’s Land Rights Act as their barking used to protect their ancestors inheritance.
Presenting their position statement on Monday, 11, January 2021, to the local County authority of Grand Bassa, the spokesman Samuel Wilson, called for the permit of community self-identification of customary land to be conducted first as been provided in the 2018 Liberia land Rights Act.
Samuel Wilson said, that the National Port Authority (NPA), National Oil company of Liberia (NOCAL), Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) seem to ignore the rights of customary communities in accordance with the 2018 Liberia’s land Rights Act.
Mr. Wilson urged the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), concessions and autonomous agencies to stop infringing on their rights and abide by all provisions of the land rights act and support customary communities in ensuring compliance and the respect of customary land rights.
“NPA people came and mark our houses here and threatened to move us without any benefit. This was what the government of Liberia did and took most of the people land free without them benefiting and give it to Palm Bay Oil Company to operate. We have come to tell the government of Liberia, that our land there, we own it.
We want to have a deed to survey it so that it can be our personal properties that tomorrow nobody will come and over ride us or take it from us by force.
So, we the group here from Bacconie have come today with our position statement that we have realized that NPA, LLA, LPRC, and NOCAL, want to over ride us, lie on us and take our land freely, so we are tell the government to give us authority to survey our land” Samuel Wilson, Youth Leader of Bacconie/ Bleewein Community added.
Those disenchanted citizens mentioned that the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), should begin the processing and authentication of tribal land certificates for private land owners in the areas (Bacconie/ Bleewein) and that the communities be given the due accordance to exercise their rights as enshrined in the land rights act and in line with international standards, such as the free prior and informed consent (FPIC).
They pointed out that the grabbing of indigenous land comes in the forms of invented believes for jobs provision, false promises to improve the livelihoods and living conditions of indigenous people.
Those citizens stated that the bad management and governance of land in Liberia has been major source of conflicts and embarrassment through force eviction and other forms of gross human rights violation and humiliation.
They quoted article 10.2 of the 2018 Liberia’ s Rights Act which states, government has the sovereign authority and responsibilities to protect and enforce all interests customary community and rights in Land.
Whereas article 32.1 of states that the customary land is acquired and owned by community in accordance with its customary practices and norms based on a long period of occupancy.
And concluded with Article 34.1 which states each community shall have the right to define area of its customary land in keeping with their customs, oral, or written history and locally recognized norms.
Receiving the position statement on behalf of Hon. Janjay Baikpeh, Grand Bassa County Superintendent, was Mr. Eddie Williams, County Information Officer , who noted that due diligence will be done to the document and the relevant authorities will be met so that what is prudent in accordance with the LLA act, that talks about community land, sectional land and others can be done immediately.
Mr. Williams assured the citizens that the document given will be presented to Superintendent Baikpeh, who he claimed is a strong advocate and supporter of the rights of people whether it is land, civil or political issue to meet with the rest of the leaderships which include, the Bassa legislative Caucus, county administration, stakeholders, and well meaning individuals to read thoroughly their demands and find solution to the long existence problem.
He mentioned that the superintendent as head of the county, has the statutory mandate to defend and protect the rights of all citizens and residents within the border of the county and as such, they will not allow the rights of their people be infringe by anybody.
“The issue of land is a trouble issue in Liberia, whether it is huge sectional land, individual private lands there are a lot of trouble issue that the LLA needs to mitigate to avoid violence.
Now, once there is due diligence , that has been approved and satisfied, it might not be appropriate deed , but the communities by inheritance or has been surviving on that land for decade and century it mean that one way or the other the community is the possessors or inheritors of the land” He noted .
As he calls on the citizens of Bacconie Community to remain calm and peaceful in the process” Mr. Williams mentioned.