By Lincoln G. Peters
The Ministry of Justice has given the Liberian government ownership of the controversial 53.34 carats diamond worth approximately US2.7 million.
It has forwarded the conclusion of its investigative report into the controversial diamond crisis.
The mineral was found in Smith Town, Gbarpolu County, and has since stirred conflict among multiple parties.
The diamond in question was found by a group of miners headed by a fisherman identified as Mohammed Kamara, alias “Iron Jacket” at claim Number #9 Diamond Creek in Gbarpolu.
In a communication written and signed by Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean dated 5 June 2023, the Ministry said it has completed the investigation into the diamond saga as mandated by President George Manneh Weah.
The communication was addressed to Mines and Energy Minister Gestler E. Murray.
“We present our compliments and herewith forward to you the investigation Report into the origin and ownership of the 53.34-carat diamond, found in Gbarpolu County, Smith Town,” the communication quotes Justice Minister Dean.
According to the Ministry of Justice, findings of the Report are that the 53.34-carat diamond was discovered and recovered in Smith Town, Gbarma Mining District #2, Lofa River, Claim 12 F Survey.
“We wish to refer you to Article 22 (a) of the Constitution, which states: “Private property rights, however, shall not extend to any mineral resources on or beneath any land or to any lands under the seas and waterways of the Republic.”
“All mineral resources in and under the seas and other waterways shall belong to the republic and be used by and for the entire republic,” the communication noted.
The Justice Minister pointed out that consistent with the constitutional provision, every mining activity must be licensed by the government, through the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“The records having confirmed that the Claimant’s License expired on May 25, 2022, and the diamond was found on April 21, 2023, it is our considered opinion that the Claimant lost all legal rights, privileges, and claims to the diamond,” he added.
Following the release of the report, the Miner of the claim, Mr. T. Daniel Sluaward in a press conference said the Justice Minister’s decision is very wicked and evil, adding that it has the propensity to cause conflict.
According to him, Minister Dean informed them in his communication that their Mining License had expired 11 months back before they discovered the diamond, and as such the diamond belongs to the state.
But Mr. Sluaward argued that the Ministry of Mines and Energy should be blamed for the alleged that ‘irresponsible and careless’ act.
He disclosed that he paid the Ministry for the renewal of his license and a flag receipt was issued to him.
But he alleged that due to the Ministry’s negligence, they put him on hold to process his license on grounds that their system was always down.
“I do not owe [the] government, I have been in the mining sector for over thirty years, not a day I owe the government,” he argued.
He said the ministry is so careless and irresponsible that when you pay for your license, it just gives you the flag receipt but it can’t process the license.
“They shift the blame on their inactive system,” he stated.