This was the statement from Motu-Koita land advocate and former secretary for the Department of Information and Communication, Henao Iduhu.
“All customary landowners in Manumanu-Pinu, Central Province, were never alerted nor consulted and thereby the land was acquired in breach of the Land Act 1996,” argues Iduhu.
Iduhu asked why the Member for Kairuku-Hiri, Peter Isoaimo, did not act in the interest of his constituents earlier to put a stop to this illegal land grab.
“A petition was presented to Mr Isoaimo for the Prime Minister, on behalf of the customary landowners prior to the deal being finalised, but nothing was done about it,” says the land advocate.
“The Defence Minister, Dr Fabian Pok’s response to Mr Isoaimo’s question about how the land was acquired in parliament last week was, and I quote, ‘We did not consult the traditional landowners, because the land had proper title’.
“How can customary landowners be illegally occupying the land of their birth, when proper processes were clearly not followed to acquire the land,” Iduhu questions.
“Who did the National Government pay K50 million to as the ‘title holder’ of the land and why is the member for Kairuku-Hiri shying away from asking the Government the difficult questions?
“The people of Kairuku-Hiri, and more so, the traditional landowners of the 365 hectares of land stolen by the Government, need leadership on this issue and real representation at the national level, and in particular, on the floor of Parliament.”
Iduhu is calling on the Member for Kairuku-Hiri to explain to the Motu Koitabu and Gabadi people the process used by Government to acquire Manumanu Land.
(A billboard at Nine-Mile, outside Port Moresby. Picture: Act Now PNG)