Gregory Moses of NBC East Sepik
Landowners in East Sepik are fuming over a report that close to 117, 000 hectares of their land is being taken over by two Malaysians under a Special Agriculture and Business Lease or SABL.
Lawyer representing the landowners Herbert Wally of BS Lai Lawyers says that the agreement was signed in Port Moresby without the landowners consent, and they only learnt of it just three weeks ago after sighting documents.
Mr. Wally says that the landowners are very frustrated after realizing that the agreement over their land was signed in 2008 with the Secretary for Lands and Physical Planning, and never received any input from them.
He says that this SABL # 144C covers the whole of Turubu LLG starting from Turubu Bay in the Wewak Open Electorate, and will run right through to Urimo and the Sepik Plains in the Sausso LLG of the Yangoru/Saussia Open Electorate.
Mr. Wally says that the landowners are claiming that the title over this lease was obtain by misrepresentation and fraudulent means, and breached proper procedures and the cause of natural justice, and must be stopped because they as legitimate landowners will miss out on all benefits.
He says under this agreement, the landowners will not be receiving any rent or form of compensation for their land for a period of 99 years, and this is not going down well with the landowners.
Mr. Wally says that he will be meeting with all the landowners early next week to gauge their views on how they feel about this issue and what they want done.
He says that after the meeting they will await the special inquiry team which is currently touring the country to visit the province on the 05th to the 16th of December for them to present their report on their stance.
Mr. Wally also says that the landowners have also indicated that they will also go to the courts to seek a judicial review to revoke the title held by the duo, and get back their land.