Limawo Holding statement on Turubu SABL highly misleading

Limawo Holdings Limited has issued a highly misleading press statement [see pdf file attached below] on its legal challenge to a government decision to cancel the Special Purpose Agriculture and Business  Lease over Section 144C in East Sepik Province.

Limawo Holdings owns a minority of the shares in Sepik Oil Palm Plantation Ltd, the holder of the  SABL lease.

Limawo Holdings statement is highly misleading in three respects. 

Firstly it fails to mention an earlier court decision that has already declared the SABL over Portion 144C null and void (see below). 

Secondly Limawo claims the court decision annulling the NEC decision in respect of Portion 144C affects all 42 SABL leases investigated by the Commission of Inquiry and all 29 leases recommended to be cancelled by a National Executive Council decision of May 2015.

This is simply untrue as the judges's findings clearly only relate to the Commission of Inquiry findings and the NEC decision in respect of Portion 144C

As Justice Iova Geita himself explained in his decision:

18. Clearly the plaintiffs [Limawo Holdings] in this judicial review cannot be said to be the right persons to seek remedy for others. There is no evidence before me to suggest that the Plaintiffs have been authorised by the rest of the 28 SABL's to represent them…

19. It follows that in the absence of any direct or implied authorization from the rest of the 28 SABL's to the Plaintiffs lawyers to represent them in this proceeding, they are all precluded from this judicial review. The reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are therefore restricted to SABL, State Lease Volume l5 Folio 52 Portion 144C, Milinch Tring Fourmil Wewak, East Sepik Province

Limawo Holdings press statement is also misleading in that it lists almost all the arguments made in court by its lawyers attacking the decision to annul the lease of Portion 144C. What the company fails to say is that many of those arguments were rejected by the court.

For example:

Ground 2 - Errors of Law

31. …. I therefore rule that no errors of law were comrnitted and dismiss this ground.

Ground 3 - Apprehension of Bias

32… In my view this dispels any suspicion or apprehension that may arise from Commissioner Mirou's findings and recommendations. I dismiss this ground

Ground 4 - Natural Justice

33… In my view, this ground is misconceived and it is dismissed.

But perhaps most erroneous of all is the fact Limawo Holdings fail to disclose that the SABLover Portion 144C has already been declared null and void by the National Court.

In 2014, in the case Maniwa v Malijiwi, Justice Gavara-Nanu declared

35. … I have already found that provisions of ss. 10, 11 and 102 of the Land Act, were not complied with by the Minister when granting SABL to the fifth defendant.

36. I also find and declare that the SABL was issued in breach of s. 53 of the Constitution, in that the landowners were unlawfully deprived of their customary land.

37. For the foregoing reasons, I declare that the SABL granted to the fifth defendant on 3 September, 2008, by the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning is null and void. Any other related actions or projects undertaken or done either pursuant to or in relation to the SABL, such as logging agreements and or planting of oil palm in the SABL area are also declared illegal and null and void.

There is nothing in the judgement of Justice Geita in the Limawo Holdings case to indicate the judge was even aware of the earlier decision and findings in Maniwa v Malijiwi. If that is the case then it would represent a serious failure of duty by the lawyers on both sides to inform the court of all relevent matters.