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Paramount Chiefs converge in Bo to discuss land issues and the law

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

The country’s Paramount Chiefs on 24th May 2014 assembled in Kakua Chiefdom, Bo City in a one-day National Conference on Land and the Constitution. Themed: OUR LAND, OUR CONSTITUTION, OUR COUNTRY, the conference for Paramount Chiefs was held at the Mohamed and Zainab Turay Hall along the new Bo – Koribondo highway and served as a forum where the Nation’s Traditional Leaders were to discuss land issues as it should relate to the constitution.

 

The Deputy Minister of local Government, Mr. Ibrahim Kaloko served as the keynote speaker and launched the conference. In his address, he thanked development partners for given support to Green Scenery, PICOT and ALLAT for assembling Paramount Chiefs’ to talk on the very important matter that touches everyone’s life which is land. He went on to say that, land is a factor of production and mankind or animals heavily depend on land. He said that, the advent of increasing economic development with the influx of investors in various areas has brought in it’s own forms of conflict. As a Ministry, they have to deal with cases of disputes between landholding families, between families and traditional rulers and even individuals regarding who should legitimately receive surface rent, crop compensations, Agricultural surface rents or community development funds. He commended the effort of the organizers for targeting the Paramount Chiefs by way of sensitizing them on procedure of land disposal and ways of incorporating land issues in the constitution review process.

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The Director of Local Government, Mr. Aiah Lebbie as Chairman of the conference opening ceremony expressed profound happiness at seeing the huge turnout of the Paramount Chiefs at the conference, stating that Paramount Chiefs are major stakeholders in land matters in the provinces. He referred to the colonial era of Sierra Leone when the country was divided into two the colony (Freetown) and protectorate (the rest of the country). He then described how land could be owned in the different divisions.

Welcoming his colleague Paramount Chiefs in his Chiefdom Kakua, P.C. Prince Boima opined that one of the major responsibilities of Paramount Chiefs is to properly take care of the land under their domain. He affirmed that it is so easy to acquired land in the province than even in Freetown. He admonished his colleague Paramount chiefs that they should be careful in handling land matters in their respective chiefdoms so that it will not fall in wrong hands or serve to create animosity among their people.

The Secretary General of the National Council of Paramount Chiefs, P.C. C.A.Y.Koroma of Kalansogoya Chiefdom,Tonkolili District expressed thanks and appreciation to the organizer for holding such a conference pertaining to land acquisition which forms a major concerns to all chiefdoms in this country. He stressed that this meeting was an eye opener for all of them because their people always cry to them for help to secure land. He went to say how much benefit would land owners get from large scale investments especially when 90% of their people depend on the land. He commented that many chiefdoms in this country had expressed dissatisfaction over the compensation paid by these large scale investors. As result of this their people are suffering because of poor land management between landowners and investors. He concluded that this conference would aid them with more knowledge and understanding in the land acquisition by investors that will benefit the landowners.

The representative of all partners, Mr. Paul Koroma of Partners Initiative for Conflict Transformation, a member of ALLAT stated on behalf of the organizers and funding partners said that the conference presented an opportunity for the Paramount Chiefs to articulate the land issues with the hope of suggesting ways that land ownership and access could be addressed by the constitution. He said the partners were there to give the Paramount Chiefs the required support to carry out their work.

Several expert presentations were done covering the following subjects:

  • Overview and background to past processes in the relation to land
  • The laws and the implications for gender
  • A look at the draft community protocol for investors
  • Policy guidelines on the large scale land acquisition
  • A look at lease agreements; case study
  • Critical analysis of the Nation land policy
  • FAO, Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forestry in the Context of food Security (VGGT): Turning principals into action in Sierra Leone

Some of the presenters at the conference were Mr. Joseph Rahall of Green Scenery, Md. Lois Kawa Esq., Mr. Patrick Johnbull Esq. and Mr. James Musa.

After the drafting and reading of the draft communiqué conference apportioned the following tasks to various actors:

The Paramount Chiefs all agreed to get the copies of the draft communiqué to share and consult with their people after deliberations the outcome will be forwarded to the DCPC.

District Council of Paramount Chiefs (DCPC): Will collect and collate all Chiefdom communiqués and forward them to the NCPC.

National Council of Paramount Chiefs (NCPC): The National Council of Paramount Chiefs’ to receive the draft communique before or on the 16th June 2014 and constitute this into position statement for onward submission to appropriate authorizes of the CRC.

Green Scenery and Partners should work on the draft communiqué liaise with the Local Government Ministry to ensure the draft communiqué reaches the respective Paramount Chiefs ‘before the 3rd June, 2014. They should also work with NCPC until the final document is finalized and dispatched to CRC.

The conference organized by Green Scenery, ALLAT and PICOT was graced by eminent personalities and development partners like Welthungerhilfe, OXFAM Sierra Leone, Christian Aid and FAO.

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