The Member of Parliament from Kambia district, Hon Abdul Karim Kamara aka “Hon AKK,” on Tuesday 26th July 2022 disclosed that people in Sahr Malen are in prison as they are unable to access their land.
He said this while contributing to the debate on the National Land Commission Act 2022, maintaining that the Bill is very good and timely due to the fact that over the years women have been suffering in the hands of traditional leaders in the villages and districts across the country. He explained that most times when the man dies, the land and other properties are transferred to the husband’s family, particularly his brother, depriving the woman of accessing the properties, especially the land.
The MP appreciated the Lands Minister Turay Senesie decision to allocate Thursday in each week to meet with affected landowners irrespective of their race, age, sex or status.
The Honorable member said, “Women don’t pay for them to be given birth to as women, they are born so. Their fundamental human rights must be respected and assured,” he said, furthering that in most cases men give lands that are not fertile to the women to farm and once the land has matured they are taken from the women and given to another man.
The revolving system of land in the country is one that he considers weak, saying it is very worrisome for the people. He drew the attention of the House to the issue of Sahr Malen ‘our land is our heritage’ saying the people should not be deprived of owing the land for economic gains.
He reiterated that the people must not be imprisoned for economic gains, pointing out that the people of Sahr Malen are in prison as they were not allowed to access their land and in some cases, they were chased into the bush.
The Chairman of the Land Committee in Parliament, Hon Quinton Sallia Konneh, maintained that for over 100 years this is the very first time such a Bill is being tabled and discussed in Parliament, stating that the Land Minister is finding it very difficult to handle all the issue due to the fact that everyone is claiming to be the owner of the land.
He stated that they are now changing the land tenure system which he maintains will transform the country, disclosing that over the years Caretakers have been finding it challenging with everyday complaining of different owners coming forward with documents from the same land ministry.
In most cases, the rich people always get possession of the land, leaving the poor person who might be the rightful owner to perish. The new land law he said is here to regulate, replace and amend the previous one and put systems in place to avoid issues of double-dipping or confusion for the same land.
He revealed that Lawyers and other key stakeholders have been making the land issues a business, gradually making land more expensive than diamond, the country’s most precious minerals.
Speaking on the composition of the Board, he said it will be institutions working on the land issues rather than an individual representation with the 30 per cent women representation at every level to ensure their voices are heard at the Land Management System which was missing in the existing Act.
Hon Neneh Lebbie said the Bill before them touches on Paramount Chiefs as extensive engagements were done at all levels, explaining that as a Widow they suffer a lot on issues of land as in most cases the family of their late husband’s get hold of all the properties.
She called on the Ministers to take note of the issue of community stakeholders leaving very small space for markets, hospitals and other social facilities in new communities, disclosing that the Land Ministry should mount an investigation on the sales of the BO Reservation land to ascertain the fact.
In her contribution, Hon Rebecca Yei Kamara, said she had been advocating for land issue for a very long time, supporting the point of Hon AKK that there are no proper Land Management in the country which has been affecting women over the years.
She said the introduction of the naming system in the Bill by ensuring the complete names of the owners rather than the previous ways of just Mr and Mrs without the complete name of the women and just the men is welcome news.
Hon Dickson Rogers said the Bill is about to bring sanity into the various homes and districts, stating women have been suffering in the hands of their late husband’s relatives, appealing for every District Commission to have women representation to protect the interest of women while discussing land issues.
Hon Shiaka Samai, informed Parliament that 100 women are in Parliament to witness the sitting, explaining that during the 2018 elections campaign so many Presidential candidates visited Sahr Malen and made promises and President Bio promised to settle the issue which resulted in him securing the highest votes as they thought the APC disappointed them.
He disclosed the Vice President visited them in 2019 and never returned, calling on the Minister to convey the complaint of the people to President Bio, expressing disappointment that an official from the Land Ministry said Malen is a successful case of land settlement.
There are many lands that are landless landowners as the people ran away from their land, he said, expressing fear of the land crisis if not settled and pointed out recording the wrong landowner as another challenge.
According to him, each gender should have at least 30 per cent access to land, disclosing that the people of Sahr Malen saw President Bio taking one step forward and two steps backwards on his campaign promise to them towards addressing their land problem.
Hon Paramount Chief Haja Bintu F.M. Kajue Koroma IV, said they are part of the Bill as they have a series of engagements and made several contributions which are reflected in the Bill but hope to address other issues at the Committee stage.
PC Joe Kanigbi Macavoray from Bo district, said they have been in a very bad shape over the years by being accused by the people wrongly, “if you want to empower the powerless empower the powerful” he said, explaining that the Bill has vindicated them which will make them have rest.
Hon Ibrahim Tawa Conteh, said while the Minster is trying to secure the land, his people at the Ministry are distributing them as Parliament is yet to receive the document relating to the distribution of government lands when that was done by Denis Sandi the former Minister.
According to him the land issues at the Court and Police are so alarming that they tend to distract the current Minister of Land’s effort of addressing such issues, despite the Minister’s good intentions, noting that if he does not have good people working with him then it is fruitless.
He requested for the House to give him the opportunity to move a motion to give the minister the power to do proper cleaning of the ministry.
According to the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Chernor Maju Bah, when they talk about investment, land and human resource are paramount, expressing excitement with the reception of the Paramount Chiefs which clearly proves the perception of the public wrong as they greatly contributed and supported the proposal.
He said they were not shocked by the action of the Minister as he did assure Parliament during his interview session, explaining there is no way the country will develop if the land is not properly managed. The Minister truly demonstrates his ability by not reading literature but responding to the concerns based on his notes.
Due to the bad land tenure system, most investors have suffered by being duped by fake landowners, disclosing that most people encroach on the access roads, calling on the Minister and his team to pay more attention to such illegal acts of encroachment.
Another issue he cited is that of Title which needs to be addressed as they now register address and not a title which will avoid the challenges faced in determining the legal owner of land rather moving up and down searching to know the actual landowner.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon Mathew Sahr Nyuma without wasting time, stood on Standing Order 51(1) to commit the Bill to the Committee stage for proper scrutiny as he expressed appreciation to all the other debaters for supporting the Bill and the Minister. For information, visit https://awokonewspaper.sl/the-people-of-sahr-malen-are-in-prison-hon-akk/