Landowners celebrate victory over SABL portion 144c

By: Eddie Tanago and Jimmy Kalebe

TURUBU AND SAUSSO landowners in East Sepik Province have celebrated over the weekend after the National Executive Council and national court decision that nullified portion 144c.

More than 1500 landowner representatives gathered in a peaceful celebration last Saturday in Wewak to inform the authorities, company officials and other landowners that portion 144c is now revoked.

The landowner representatives from Turubu and Sausso LLG came in truck and boat loads to inform the public and the authorities that it is a victory to them after 6 years of legal battle to have their land titles back.

In this portion, almost whole of Turubu and parts of Sausso local level government area were taken under the SABL which the landowners lost their title to some individuals for nearly 99 years.

Former councilor Benedict Suar of Forok village in his speech said that it is a victory for the landowners and a history in the province as well as nation where local people stand together to fight for their rights in protecting their customary land rights.

Mr Suar said East Sepik Province now must be aware and learn from the past mistakes and avoid getting themselves confused

The former councilor and landowner said it is now clear that portion 144c has been revoked and landowners in Turubu and Sausso must now plan properly before signing contracts for any impact developments to happen.

Spokeswoman from Mundawin village Maria Sori while delivering her speech inform the gathering that land is not a commodity. It is not owned by an individual but collectively owned by clan.

“We do not own the land, it belongs to the clan and clan must make all decisions before any impact developments take shape on our customary land.

We are ready to work closely with foreign corporations who are ready to work closely with us in a win, win situation and not like the current logging and oil palm operations taking place on our land,” she added.

Meanwhile, the landowner company and its developer has taken a stay order against the national court order that was handed down on the 04th of this month against logging and oil palm on portion 144c