In the settlement of long-standing land and property disputes in Nimba, a resident of Ganta, Bill Tensonnoh has observed ‘dedeba’ or foul-play in the recent recommendations made by the Presidential Land Dispute commission to the president.
According to him, the list submitted to the president as claimant and respondent for compensation as a resolution to the problem/dispute, is made up of ghost names and duplications.
He added that most of those claiming to be property owners are not in possession of the requisite documents to substantiate their claims, but did it in consultations with some members of the commission for selfishness. He explained that situation like the land dispute in Ganta and Nimba at large requires well experienced and qualified individuals for amicable solution and lasting peace.
He added that those who did the appraising of properties in which compensations were recommended to the president lack the qualification and expertise. Mr. Tensonnoh expressed his dissatisfaction about the work done by commission and those they claimed to be owners of properties.
“The amount stipulated as compensations to some of the claimants and respondents is huge. It was done to the detriment of others.” he noted.
In addressing most of these issues on a local Radio talk show in Ganta on the 12th of March 2011, the Head of the Secretarial of the Special Presidential Land Dispute commission, Prince Forfor denied all allegations, noting that those who carried on the appraisement were all responsible and credible people.
He said, the secretarial was set up to bring the two disputed parties (claimant and respondent) together and guide them in the process during the. He added that the responsibility of the commission was to find an amicable solution to the land dispute in Nimba for lasting peace among the people.
According to a letter written to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf under the signature of the head of the commission Musa Bility, the total of 730 land cases registered in Nimba with Ganta and Saclepea being the highest. In Ganta alone, 280 land cases were registered, 255 resolved and 25 still under negotiations, while in Saclepea 212 cases were registered, 175 resolved and 37 still under negotiations.
After a long and tedious work, according to the commission, they recommended that the government makes available L$7,389, 000 to compensate both the claimants and respondents. In a breakdown, the claimants (those whose property were encroached on) will received the sum of L$27,371, 750 as compensation to wave disputed areas and relocate.
he respondents or the occupants will received the sum of L$44,017, 250 as compensation to relinquished properties owned by claimants. This exercise was followed by the issuance of identification cards to both claimants and respondents for payment.
The property and Land Disputes in Nimba have over the years been raising tensions among the tribal groups in Nimba, especially the Mano and Dahn on one hand and the Mandingoes and both tribes on the other.
In 2006, the first presidential land dispute commission headed by former Minister Ambullia Johnson was set up, but the problems remained unsolved after two years of negotiations. In sequel to the first commission, the President again setup another commission this time headed by Mr. Musa Bility and the county Legislative caucus, but to avail.
The commissions were established to achieve among other things the maintenance of peace, security, unity and reconciliation among the disputed parties.