BY EDDIE OSIFELO
A GROUP of concerned forest resource owners from Shortlands and Choiseul is making an appeal to the Governor General Sir David Vunagi.
They kindly asked Sir David to inquire into the allegations of collusion between the Solomon Forest Association, its President and Executive Members, the Attorney General Chambers and the Commissioner of Forest and the Forestry Office on alleged organized crimes and “underhanded” dealings that caused the nation to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
Landowners from Kubobangara Customary Land and Kubongava Customary Land in South Choiseul say they have gone through many avenues, legally and constitutionally, but authorities lacked the enthusiasm to correct the wrongs.
“Consider, these wrongs was made in 2007 and now is 2021, a 14-year span, Governments, both past and present did not show any enthusiasm in making corrections to the wrongs,” they said.
A group of Choiseul Landowners claimed that logging companies who are SFA members did not pay them their royalties from shipment of logs harvested from their forest and their other dues.
“Matter was brought to the court, Court Injunction Orders was obtained, proceeds was released by Consent Orders signed by the Attorney General Chambers.
“No matter how the landowners defend their resources from unscrupulous logging companies, foreign logging companies is being shielded by Solomon Forest Association, by a web of complicated ‘contract’, ‘agreement’and ‘deed’, a collusion between Solomon Forest Association, it President, Executives and Members, the Commissioner of Forest, the Attorney General Chambers and the Registrar of Lands and Titles,” they said.
Among the allegations are:
1. Felling License are issued without going through the Timber Rights Acquisitions procedure.
2. Grant of Profits was issued to fraudsters or when the land is under caveat.
3. Logging operations still continue and logs are exported when there are existing court injunction orders.
4. Awarding Sale Order without advertising for tender.
5. Proceeds from Export are released by Consent Orders signed by the Attorney General Chambers.
6. Logging equipment and assets seized do not have any record that the logging equipment and assets seized are being auctioned off.
7. Felling of protected species of tree (Tubi) and exporting protected species logs.
8. Smuggling of logs and evasion of export duties.
The landowners said reports lodged with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, the Criminal Investigation Department, Fraud Unit, JANUS, from 2014 to date, the case is still pending, excuse, high profile case.
They believed God has chosen our Governor General as the Head of State.
“May the Governor General exercise the Executive Authority of the People of the People of Solomon Islands in the betterment of Solomon Islands,” one of the landowners said.
However, Private Secretary of Government House, Rawcliffe Ziza said it is bit rare for the Governor General to intervene in this kind of case because it is the matter of court to determine.
Ziza, a lawyer by profession, said whatever disagreements must follow the process because it is a dispute between individuals or groups with the authorities.
He said in his experience has not come across such issue where the Governor General intervene in it.