Land Rights Act Backfires
-Traditional Leaders Roar
-Urge Pro-Tempore To Beware
The much acclaimed Liberia’s Land Rights Act which was passed into law reportedly under some circumstances in August 2017 by the House of Representatives and awaiting concurrence of the Senate has been rejected by Traditional Leaders representing the 15 political sub-divisions; Anthony Selmah of our staff Reports.Coming in their numbers from Margibi, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and River Cess counties, the traditional leaders representing their colleagues across the country Thursday converged at the Capitol Building to express indignation over the manner and form the Lower House passed the law and left critical parts out, which according them, were necessary to reflect locals’ ownership.
In their petition to the Liberian Senate through Pro-Tempore Armah Zulu Jallah, the traditional leaders in a rather unhappy mood expressed how they were disenchanted in members of the Lower House who defeated the intend of the law and passed the edited version to the disadvantage of the locals.
Chief Abraham N. Kamarawho read the petition on behalf of his colleagues narrated that in May 2013, chiefs and leaders of local communities from across Liberia met in a mass meeting in Monrovia and expressed approval for the original Land Rights Policy drafted by the Land Commission to be passed into law; the Land Rights Policy, according Mr. Kamara took into account everything necessary to avoid conflict.
The Monrovia meeting, held at the Centennial Pavilion on Ashmun Street was also graced by county authorities, including Superintendents, Commissioners and Paramount Chiefs when the decision was taken that the Land Rights Policy was good for the country.
But Mr. Kamara told Pro-Tempore Jallah that considering the policy that it could be changed by any succeeding regime, the delegates from the counties agreed to make it much stronger by passing it into law; according to him, it was on that basis the policy was sent to the Legislature for enactment into law.
“We are aware that policy is not as strong as the law. Politicians can easily change policy or refuse it. For this reason, we all agreed to make the Land Rights Policy stronger by making it a law. So, in 2014, the Land Rights Policy became the Draft land Rights Act (LRA). Since 2014, the lawmakers have been delaying it here. In August this year, the lawmakers in the Lower House hurriedly passed the Draft Land Rights Act. But they removed some of the main things we agreed to in the Land Rights Policy. They removed some of the main areas that protect our land and people,” Mr. Kamara said as he read the petition in the Conference room of the Capitol Building Thursday.
According to the Chiefs, in reaction to what some members of the Lower House did, they talked to their people to vote them out in the last October elections, adding that “this is why some of our friends in the Lower House will not come back here” he told the Senate through Pro-Tempore Jallah, Senator of Gbarpolu County.
“So, we have come to bring the 2014 law back to you; this is the law that we want. Please sign this one! This is the law that we gave to you in 2014. Please do not sign the bad law that the Lower House passed in August 2017 without consulting us. Those who played with our land business, we took their jobs from them. We are watching you too. If you do what the other people did, we will go to your counties and tell your people not to vote for you too”, the chiefs said through their spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Senate Pro-Tempore, Armah Z. Jallahassured the aggrieved traditional leaders that the Draft Land Rights Act will be sent to the committee responsible for a considerable result that would be in their interest.
Sen. Jallah praised the elders for alerting the senators on the document as they prepare to review it for concurrence but noted that the decision will be fruitful to address their concerns.