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Violent land dispute in Maryland

Machete-waving citizens of Yookudi town in Harper District, Maryland County have violently destroyed several properties, including houses in a dispute over 260.3 acres of land situated along the Harper Prollo border.

The land in question is occupied with palms belonging to one Dr. James Elliott, a Marylander, whocurrently resides in the United States of America.YookudiCommissioner Nathaniel Howe,claims the disputed land was given to one Joe W. Bush by the people of Pedobo, who planted sugar cane on it for several years and subsequently turned it over to the late former Senator J. Hodo Manston, who in turn, handed it over to Dr. James Elliott, the current occupant. Dr. Elliott has cultivated palms and other cash corps on the land in question.

However, in an interview with the NewDawn in Pedebo on Tuesday, Commissioner Howe said they are not aware how Dr. Elliott acquired the land from the Pedebo people as he claimed.

The case about the 260.3 acres of land has been in court for approximately five years now, but parties are yet to reach a common understanding, despite huge investment there by Dr. Elliott.

Both sides are claiming ownership over the premises that is situated between Yookudi and Pedebo districts.Over 400 men from Yookudi armed with cutlasses and other deadly instruments Tuesday marched on the farm and vandalized the entire area, setting two buildings ablaze, which left more than 25 workers of farm homeless.

The attackers also damaged the only pump and a solar panel, before making away with other valuables, including a chain saw and bags of fertilizers.The tension grew as a result of an alleged order from the Harper Magisterial Court upon the request of Dr. James Elliott for a survey of the land by county surveyor Mr. Jerry Washington, which the people of Yookudiresisted.

When contacted, the clan chief of Pedebo Township, Ben Klah Davis,claims the land belongs to the people of Pedebo and they gave it to one Bush, who turned it over to the late Senator Manston before Dr. Elliott acquired the area, but did say how.

Chief Davis continues that according to their forefathers only they and the people of Wartenek, another town along the sea coast near the banks of the Cavalla River have boundary with the land in question and not Yookudipeople, as they are claiming.

He explains that the land was sold long time to Mr. Joe Bush, who was on his way to America and he sold it to the late Senator Manston.Chief Davis reveals that prior to Manston purchasing the land, he went to the people of Pedebo to confirm whether Joe Bush was the legitimate owner in order to avoid future embarrassment.

He says the late ex-senator, who purchased the land, presented all relevant documents to them and they accepted him so he started farming there, but prior to his death, he turned the area over to Dr. James Elliott.

“I don’t know where they are coming from, claiming that they own the land, so I am calling on the government to probe into this to bring an everlasting end to this long dispute”, Chief Davis concludes.

The chief administrator of the farm, Mr. Jefferson Elliott, told this paper they were held hostage by the attackers before vandalizing the property,including dutting down the palm trees.

He allege that Senator H. Dan Morias, and a staff from his office, Mr. Tatu Clark, and a representative hopeful of Harper District Josephine Allison, all of whom are Nyemowe people, are the ones politicizing the land issue with the aim of dividing the people of Maryland County, particularly the Kudemowe and the Nyemowe in Harper District in a bid to solicit votes.

But when contacted via mobile phone, SenatorMoriasdismisses the allegation, saying it is far from the truth.Morias says as Senator of the county, he could in no way support conflict among his people,lamenting that he regrets the destruction of the farm and properties. The Maryland Senator described the claim made by the farm administrator as “high level of stupidity.”

Meanwhile, report reaching this paper says several persons have been arrested in connection with the arson attack and are currently in police custody.

By George K. Momo, Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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