USAID-Land Governance Support Activity (LGSA) yesterday began its nationwide awareness campaign on the Act Against Criminal Conveyance of Land in Schiefflin Township, Margibi County, with residents recommending the establishment of community teams to monitor land transactions in the area.
The awareness campaign will also cover Marshal Township, Caldwell and Todee in Montserrado County.
Passed in 2014, the Act was meant to penalize surveyors, landowners and others who engage in multiple sales of land previously conveyed to a buyer by the issuance of a title deed.
The law provides that once a parcel of land has been sold by the owner, the title to it is passed onto the buyer, and the seller immediately loses the land and the right to exercise any lawful authority over such conveyed land.
The Act stipulates that any person found guilty of criminal conveyance of land may be sentenced to more than five years in prison and made to restitute an amount double what the seller would gain from the sale.
Addressing the campaign program, Township Commissioner Joseph Gibson noted that Schiefflin is becoming a breeding ground for illegal land sale which he believes needs serious government intervention.
Gibson said the practice seems to be on the increase, despite his office’s efforts to curtail it, and blamed family ties for the growing trend.
“We have tried our best to arrest those involved in the practice and sent them for prosecution, but family members would intervene and take the matter back home for settlement,” Gibson noted.
Madam Josephine Benson, registrar of the Center for National Documents, Records and Achieves (CNDRA), in her intervention, said they have named Margibi County as one of the major illegal land transaction areas.
“We are very careful in registering land documents from the area because most transactions emanating from the county are illegal,” Benson told her audience of mostly landowners.
Atty. Adams Manobah, Commissioner for Policy and Planning at the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), blamed the increasing wave of multiple sales of land on government’s failure to prosecute surveyors.
“Surveyors involved in the criminal conveyance of land should have their licenses revoked if caught, but that is not happening. Government is not doing so,” the LLA Commissioner for Policy and Planning pointed out.
“Implementation of the act against criminal conveyance of land is not effective because the government is not doing more to prosecute surveyors caught in the practice.”