Nohn Town, Grand Bassa County – Some residents of Nohn Town in District #4 in Grand Bassa County have countered claims that they were coerced by some prominent sons of the county to sign a MOU with Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) to a acquire a portion of land.
Mr. Timothy Yeaba, chief of Nohn Twon termed the allegation as untrue and embarrassing.
“Carrying such information that we were invited by the company and asked to give in to their request is a complete embarrassment to us, because the company is still in discussion with us. There is no clearing ongoing here and our people will have to agree first before any clearing is done,” Chief Yeabah said.
Speaking through an interpreter, Madam Etta Bangan an elderly woman in the township said series of meetings have taken place between residents of Nohn Town and representative of the company over the last few months, with EPO explaining the processes required and other benefits to farmers and communities.
“First they came and explained that they wanted to engage the community about the land and we told them that we will inform our people about their request. We have had series of meetings with our people and no decision has been reached on the way forward,” Madam Etta noted.
She explained that the decision to as to whether the land is given to EPO or not, rest entirely with the people of Nohn Town and not any particular segment or any group based in other parts of the country.
“If we all say yes is yes, if we all say no is no.”
Morris Bangan, a resident of Nohn Town, initially declined to speak on the matter for fear of being misquoted, expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the information was disseminated to the public that residents were coerced, didn’t go down too well with him and other residents of the town.
He mentioned that the company came over and firstly invited elders and other prominent sons of the town before scheduling their first meeting with the residents and later bringing to the table their request regarding portion of the land for cultivation. Since then, no agreement has been reached.
According to section 1.5 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) and the Elders, Community leaders and residents of the various communities.
“The Company is allowed to conduct its FPIC processes within the concession land and will respect the decisions of all communities.”
Accordingly, section 1.3 also states that “The Company will proceed with its land development in area ceded by consented communities in phase 1 boundary as guided by its sustainability policy.
It can be recalled that the company on October 5, 2016 successfully carry out crop payment/compensation to farmers during the first phrase with the entire process based on free, prior & informed and consent arrangement.