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Nende resource executives question certificate of no appeal

THE executives of Temotu Province’s Nende Resources Development Association (NRDA) have taken the Eastern Magistrate based in KiraKira and the Local Court Clerk in Lata to task over a certificate of no appeal issued against the Association.

At the same time, the Association is questioning why the Ministry of Forest and Research through the Office of the Commissioner of Forest, issued logging licence to a Chinese logging firm, Xiang Lin Timbers (SI) Ltd knowing full well that the Temotu Provincial Executive has rejected the company’s so-called Customary Land Rights Timber hearing as being unprocedural.

“The licence was issued to Xiang Li Timbers (SI) Ltd on 27 August 2015 – the same day it applied for the licence,” NRDA Chairman, John Chris Mwelo told Island Sun this week.

Mr Mwelo said his Association was slapped a certificate of no appeal after the logging licence was issued.

“There is a high probability of corruption in all this. The two officers, Eastern Magistrate and the Clerk of the Local Court in Lata, knew that the Provincial Executive had rejected the company’s application and yet the Commissioner of Forests went ahead and issued the licence.

“Something is very wrong here. It would seem the two officers who are privy to Provincial Executive decisions have chosen to mislead the Commissioner of Forest by providing him incorrect information which he used to issue the logging licence to Xiang Lin Timbers (SI) Ltd,” Mr Mwelo said.

“I am therefore calling on the Ministry of Justice and Peace to investigate the two officers for their role in all this,” he said.

Mr Mwelo told Island Sun this week the matter relates to a grant of profit granted to Xiang Lin Timbers (SI) Ltd over two parcels of alienated land on north Santa Cruz.

Since the matter came to light, the 30-year grant of profit has cost two Temotu Provincial Premiers their jobs as a result of a campaign mounted by resource owners for the return of the alienated land.

“Apart from getting rid of the two provincial premiers for their involvement in the matter, we have succeeded in getting the title of the Perpetual Estate (PE) transferred back to us after we saw Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in 2015.

“We received the transfer of the title on 17 June 2016,” he said in Honiara this week.

But NRDA’s campaign has hit a snag.

Mr Mwelo said the Registrar General told his Association that because of the logging licence issued to Xiang Lin Timbers (SI) Ltd, the company had filed a case against the landowners in the High Court.

The matter has been set down to be heard on 14 June this year.