The report of the Parliamentary Select Committee that investigated allegations made by the Lands Minister that Hon. Edward Turay and Hon. Dauda Dumbuya were involved in the illegal sale of State Lands have found out the allegations to be untrue.
Presenting the report yesterday in Parliament, the Chairman of the Select Committee Hon. Chief Dhaffie Benya said they have recommended that the Lands, Country Planning and the Environment Minister, Dr. Dennis Sandy apologize publicly to the two MPs in the Well of Parliament.
Hon. PC Benya told Parliament that when carrying out their investigations, they interviewed the Lands Minister, the Solicitor General, the Administrator and Registrar General and the former Lands Minister. He also said they read and discussed the Surveys Act and other legal instruments.
Chief Benya also told Parliament that they interviewed Mr. John Momodu Coker, who he said admitted selling 8 town lots to Hon. Edward Turay out of the 84 acres of land he had acquired by statutory declaration in 1974.
The Chief said when they interviewed the Administrator and Registrar General; he told them that the land tenure system remained the same as it was in the colonial days, which means land is classified as private land, state land and unoccupied land.
He also stated that the Administrator General categorized that a buyer of a piece of land must identify and negotiate the price with the help of a solicitor to ensure no encumbrance to the land in question as the licensed surveyor prepares a plan which is checked and countersigned by the Director of Surveys and Lands in accordance of the Surveys Act.
The Select Committee Chairman stated that the conveyance submitted by the Lands Minister in respect of his allegations against Hon. Edward Turay fulfilled the requirements for registration of those documents. And the title holder of the original document, Mr. John Momodu Coker, acquired the 84 acres of land through Statutory Declaration in 1974 as it was registered by the office of the Administrator and Registrar General in 1974.
“The document submitted in respect in respect of Hon. Edward Turay was signed by the Director of Surveys and Lands and registered by the Office of the Administrator General on September 8, 2008” the chairman stated.
He also stated that Hon. Dauda Dumbuya acquired his land through inheritance which is also one of the legal instruments used to acquire private land and property and that his survey plan was also signed by the Director of Surveys and Lands and registered by the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General.
Chief Benya also said the Solicitor General confirmed that the two documents presented to him in respect of Hon. Edward Turay and Hon. Dauda Dumbuya fulfilled the due processes associated with land acquisition and registration and their documents represent private land transaction and not state land transactions.
He revealed that it was unfortunate that the Minister’s expert could not help the Committee members to establish the proof that the survey plans of the two MPs fall within the state land boundaries indicated on the cadastral maps provided by the Minister.
“Having critically examined, analyzed, and evaluated the documents presented by the Minister of Lands, Dr. Sandy, in support of his allegations that certain Members of Parliament, especially Members of Parliament from the Western Area are involved in illegal state land transactions, as well as through interviews conducted with various experts by the committee, including a site visit, the committee found that there was no evidence to support the Minister’s allegations. The committee therefore found his allegations to be baseless and unfounded” the report ended.
By Ishmael Bayoh