Expert’s Witness Disagree with Defendants’ Testimony

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The prosecution’s expert witness in the ongoing US$6 million Private Use Permit (PUP) case, Gertrude Korvayah Nyanley, on Monday, July 13 disagreed with the dismissed managing director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Moses Wogbeh’s contention that they issued the permit based on a resolution of the board of directors.
Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth chaired the FDA’s board, who Wogbeh claimed approved of the 61 PUPs at the center of the saga.
Mr. Wogbeh, together with three others including a senior surveyor of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), are on trial for their individual roles played in the illegal issuance of up to 61 PUPs that authorized commercial logging operation on nearly 2.5 million hectares of farmland throughout the country, which government valued at US$6 million.
The testimony of witness Nyanley, who is FDA’s Technical Manager for Community Forestry Department, is very crucial to the trial because it came less than a day to the final argument.
Initially when he took the stand to exonerate himself from the allegations, defendant Wogbeh alleged that the Forest Reform Law gave FDA the authority to set standard, qualification and regulation for the issuance of PUP licenses to companies operating under said document.
However, Madam Nyanley in her testimony quoted the law by suggesting that it only speaks to three categories of licenses, which does not mention PUPs, neither does it set standard for PUPs.
“It speaks of who is qualified or who can obtain any of those three licenses and not the PUPs,” she testified.
Also, defendant Wogbeh testified that the PUPs issued and granted to communities were for the PUP holders to conduct commercial logging activities on community forest land.
Contradicting her former boss Mr. Wogbeh, the prosecution expert witness argued that, “As far as I know, community forest land is granted by the 2009 community rights law, and the 2011 community rights regulation. Those documents gave rights to communities to carry out both commercial and non commercial activities on their land.” She added that the requirement for those rights is provided for by the two laws.
Government also claimed that the defendants conspired and facilitated the issuance of the 61 PUP licenses over community deeded forest lands, which they further alleged are indicative of Community Forest Land.
By definition, according to them, Community Forest Lands are governed and regulated by the Community Rights Law of 2009.
The case continues on Thursday with both parties producing their final arguments.

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