– Land Commissioner laments
As land issues continue to pose serious challenges to the peace and stability of Liberia, the Commissioner on Policy and Planning at the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) has blamed the situation on the lack of a “definite land law” in Liberia. “Our country is now 170 years old and there is not a well-defined law as to its administration and management,” Adams Manobah argued.
Atty. Manobah made the remarks Saturday at a one-day awareness campaign on the ‘Act Against the Criminal Conveyance of Land’ that is intended to punish those involved in double land sales, that was passed into law in 2014, and the Rights Bill that is currently before the legislature.
“There is a very old law that cannot resolve the increasing wave of criminal conveyance of land in the country and the law is outdated and very weak to provide land security for you,” Manobah observed.
The campaign, funded by USAID-Land Governance Support Agency (LGSA), was held in Johnsonville Township, Montserrado County with the participants recommending the setting-up of a community land task force monitoring land sale transactions in the area to avoid future conflict. Johnsonville Township is one of the areas that have experienced several land crises, like the Bright Farm land dispute which resulted in several people being killed.
Apart from lacking land law, Manobah believes that the courts are another contributing factor to the crisis. “The court should be the place where people go to seek redress on their land issues, but that is not the case. Rather people are afraid to go there, because those who work there only believe in taking bribes,” the land commissioner alleged, adding, “they take bribes to prepare multiple letters of administration just for a single plot of land.”
Johnsonville Township Commissioner Melvin Bettie, supported Manobah’s allegation that the court is behind the illegal sale of lands. Bettie claimed that the Probate Court is helping to undermine the enforcement of the criminal conveyance law. “It is this court that is issuing fake letters of administration that are at the center of Johnsonville’s land crises,” the township commissioner claimed. “The court cannot solve our land problems by issuing a deed for land to over 50 persons at a time. This is what happened in the Bright Farm case.”
Acting Chief of Party of USAID-LGSA, Anny Bruins, said double land sale is very scary, but she believes that with collective efforts, the communities can resolve the problem. Also, LLA executive director Stanley Toe assured the gathering about the Land Rights Bill, which is on the verge of being passed by the legislature. “This bill has been around since 2014, but right now, it is in the committee room at the legislature, and by Thursday, August 10, we will hear good news about the bill,” Toe said.
Madam Bloh Sayeh, director general for the Center of National Documents, Records Agency (CNDRA), said her agency has put in place various steps in land deed registration and actions are being taken to mitigate falsification of land documents. “Everything around land matters is fake but we are doing our best to solve our age old practice of forgery and other illegal land issues,” Sayeh noted.