Land board stops fraud - Solomon Star News

Land board stops fraud

17 January 2018

Dear Editor – Looking through old newspapers to find articles others and I wrote about logging and mining corruptions on Rennell, I find this article: LAND BOARD STOPS FRAUD—THE MINISTER HAPPY WITH NEW BODY, interesting.

The article was written by Aatai John, and it appears in the front page of the Solomon Star Issue No.6783 of Thursday 21 December, 2017.

Why the article was interesting, in its opening paragraph, the author, probably paraphrasing what the Minister of Lands, Andrew Manepora’a, could have said,says these,”Corrupt dealings with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey have been drastically reduced since the establishment of the Land Board”.

According to the article, the Minister of Lands went on to say these, “public perception of the Ministry as a corrupt office is a thing of the past after the establishment of the Lands Board”.

The writer Aatai,quoting Minister Manepora’a powerful speech of assurance to the nation about the importance of the establishment of the Lands Board went on to say these, “let the nation be assured that the Lands Board has taken over the one-man making decision of the Commissioner of Lands, which is highly venerable to corruption”.

In brief from Aatai’s point of view about Minister Manepora’a speech, the establishment of the Lands Board has put to stop fraudulent and corruption that was so ripe in the Ministry of Lands when decision making over land matters that was used to be made by a one-man bench—the Commissioner of Lands, that Manepora’a admitted to be ‘highly venerable to corruption’.

Whilst readers of Aatai’s report on Minister Manepora’a speech look convincing, I doubt that the Lands Board has put to stop fraud and corruption in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey.

This is because of information that I received from the former chair of the Lands Board who told me thatthe registration of West Rennellhas never gone through the Lands Board for approval.

According to the former chair the decision to accept Penrose Palmer’s false report of West Rennell that he (Palmer) acquired for APID was made by the Commissioner of Lands then without the blessing of the Lands Board.

From documents I had in hand, Penrose Palmer was appointed by APID to be the acquisition officer in the registration of West Rennell although had the protection of the Commissioner of Lands.

And if what the former chair of the Lands Board is true, then the Commissioner of Lands that approved APID Penrose Palmer’s false report must be investigated together with Penrose Palmer, Solomon Maui, APID Project Manager and the Land Trustees of West Rennell for falsifying the registration of West Rennell; a registration that breach so many sections of the Lands Act and Mines Act.

If the information by the former chair of the Lands Board that his board has never deliberate on Penrose Palmer biased and false report on West Rennell except the Commissioner of Lands, then my allegation that the registration of West Rennell was an evil scheme designed by the Sogavare DCCG led government who hijacked our lands for APID could be true.

I make the claim because despite many of us, the true landowners of West Rennell,object the inclusion of our land in APID Mining Tenement the Commissioner of Lands failed to listen.

My fellow Rennellese need to know that the registration of our lands by the government for APID means that our customary claim and ownership of the island that we are so proud about is lost thus there is no need for anyone to take another to the West Rennell Council of Chiefs who also reaped our people by accepting land cases over land already registered and given by the government to APID who is now the new owner of West Rennell from its high water and low water land according to the registration.

Our land that was registered by the Commissioner of Lands as Parcel No. 289-005-1, a parcel number that was made up of APID two Prospecting Tenements: PL04/08 (Tenement A) & PL05/08(Tenement B) was sub-leased to by the Commissioner of Lands to APID, not only to mine the bauxite but also to receive the grant of profit for all that are affixed to the land like trees, stone, gravels, reef, sea, water, swamp and even our villages, graves etcas there was no indication in theregistration to exclude them.

Be informed that the registration of West Rennell was DCCG deliberate hijacked of our lands because even the Lands Board that was established sometimes in 2014 before the registration takes place in 2015 has not deliberate on the Acquisition Officer’s false report because if the Lands Board was given the opportunity to deliberate on the report, the registration of West Rennell would not be possible.

This is because the denial of the Lands Board to deliberate on APID’s appointed Acquisition Officer Penrose Palmer’s false report could be a vicious cycle of the mistake made by the Mines Board who instead of reducing into half APID Prospecting Tenement of 560 square kilometres into half as required by S.24(2) of the Mines Act when APID applied for an extension of her PL license expired on the 4th December 2011; the Mines Board added a new Prospecting License Tenement called B thatincreasedAPID PL that she eventually converted into a Mining Tenement to 1120 square kilometres.

What concerns me about the former Chair of the Lands Board attitudes however, after he provides me information about his board not being involved in the deliberation of APID’s appointed Acquisition Officer’s report that led the Commissioner of Lands to register West Rennell for APID, I gave the Chair some documents for his Lands Board perusal to support my dispute over the absurd inclusion of lands that are still pending in court to determine their ownership; yet, he fails to give me feedback.

Herein I raise the question: is it true that the Lands Board helps stop fraud in the Ministry of Lands and override the one man decision by the Commissioner of Lands that Minister Andrew Manepora’a claimed?

Tepuke RH Pautangata
Law student