Prosecution’s sixth witness who testified yesterday in the ongoing misapplication of US$6m Private Use Permit (PUP) case, alleged that former Sinoe County Senator Mobutu Nyenpan gave elders of Tartweh Drapoh Chiefdom LD$50,000 to sign the social agreement with a logging company, Atlantic Resource to operate under the PUP in the community.
Hillary Quetoh, a youth president of the chiefdom said, Nyenpan gave the money during a meeting with the town’s people, the management of Forestry Development Authority (FDA), including its dismissed Managing Director, Moses Wogbeh and representative of Atlantic Resource in May 2012.
Quetoh said, though they did not accept the money, the Senator and the FDA went ahead and signed the agreement with the logging company.
After the community refused to accept the money, Quetoh `allegedly quoted Senator Mobutu’s response to the people saying, “This is cold water for you people to agree for the company to operate in our county.”
He further quoted Senator Nyenpan who allegedly said, “If the people of Tartweh Drapoh refuse to accept Atlantic Resource, it will take them the next 70 years to receive another company like Atlantic Resource.”
Before Atlantic Resource’s contract, the state witness explained that the FDA management issued different agreements with Dr. Amos Sawyer, chairman of the Governance Commission and the Universal Forestry Company for the very Tartweh Drapoh Forest.
Wogbeh, along with four others, including a senior surveyor, at the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy (MLME) are being tried for their alleged individual roles in the illegal issuance of 61 PUPs.
The permit authorizes commercial logging operations on nearly 2.5million hectares of land area in the country.
Further in his testimony, witness Quetoh said, it was on December 2, 2012 that he first saw a copy of the PUP that was allegedly signed on behalf of the Tartweh Drapoh Chiefdom.
“When I received the copy of the PUP as president of the Tartweh Youth Association, I convened a youth meeting in Tubmanville, where I showed the document to the young people. Everyone was surprised and confused about the PUP, because it was their first time seeing such a document,” he stated.
After they showed a copy of the PUP to the elders, they convened four different meetings, this time, in November 2012.
“In our last meeting in Plasiken, we agreed to set up a large delegation to go to Monrovia to meet the FDA management,” he recalled.
“While in Monrovia we met with one Hedrick Johnson and he told us that the dismissed managing director Wogbeh had travelled and he was the person left in Wogbeh’s post.”
“So, we submitted a petition to the FDA for our land to be placed under our community land rights and not under the PUP, because the PUP gives rights to the company more than the citizens,” the prosecution witness added.
Unfortunately, witness Quetoh said, the FDA delegation up to present never visited the county.
“They all preferred to seek the interest of the company. But, thank God that I am here to testify and I would also use this time to tell our people and the government about the double game played by the FDA management,” he said.