Lands Commissioner, Nelson Naoapu says he was acting upon what has already been done with the process of land acquisition and registration, believing it was all done right.
He clarified his letter of approval granting mining company, Asia Pacific Investment Development Limited’s (APID) land acquisition process as rightful done and completed.
According to the letter dated July 9th 2015, the Commissioner of Lands informed the Director of Mines, the land acquisition for APID Limited tenement area at Rennell LR. 1137, Parcel Number 298-005-1 as completed.
The same letter is copied to the Mines Permanent Secretary, Provincial Secretary Renbel Province, Commissioner of Forest, Commissioner of Police, Controller of Customs, AG Chambers, Director Foreign Investment Board, Director Environment and APID.
“The whole process itself was done prior to my appointment on taking up this position. I only come in office on April 15th 2015,” said Commissioner Naoapu.
But the landowners on Rennell disputed the so called land acquisition and registration as in-complete.
Claiming that they were never consulted or took part in any public hearing as is expected of, as the rightful process.
Naoapu said, he was not made aware of any of such claims made by the landowners, but only acted on what he presumed done rightly and completed.
“Yes, I signed the approval,” he confirmed.
“It was done upon my thorough observation of the processes involve and seeing a lease agreement had already been signed between landowners and APID, which is a prerequisite to the processes.
“I got convinced, the land acquisition and registration processes are done rightfully and accordingly.”
He explained, if to follow the right process, there supposed to be two hearings done by the acquisition officer appointed where landowners concern should have the opportunity to raise or make objections.
“These hearings should be done with notices put up for the public to see; the first hearing involves identifying the rightful landowners and the second to follow suit involving all parties to the particular land of interest.
“Both are to identify and know who the rightful landowners are, this is when objections on certain claimed landowning groups or individuals can be disputed on the floor to be heard by the acquisition officer.
“The acquisition officer after a day or more can make his judgment on what he heard during the hearings to identify the real landowners to be put into a report.
“The determination report is completed with another three months’ notice expected to be out for any final objections to the land acquisition officer’s judgment put into as a report.
“Any objects or appeal to this will have to be made through the High Court, and if there is no appeal made against, a certificate of no appeal be granted to be followed by processes of survey and registration of the land,” explained the Commissioner.
“Any objections on High Court will follow its processes to settle first before going on to survey and registration.
“Otherwise if it’s done rightly, this is the right process,” he said.
Commissioner Naoapu was reluctant to reveal any possible tamper along the processes involved that he is aware.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI