By EDDIE OSIFELO
A court order has been filed against Marovo MP Chachabule Amoi’s Fairtrade company and three accomplices to restrain them from alleged illegal logging operations on Vangunu island, Western province.
BETS Legal Service principal, Ben Etomea filed the permanent injunctive order against Jeffery Onga, Morris Rikihi and Atupia Kito and Fairtrade Company Ltd at the High Court on Tuesday this week.
Etomea says evidences show they had already felled 10,000 cubic metres of logs and caused environmental damages on the customary land.
Onga, Rikihi and Kito claim to represent the Kadiki Kale Eongo landowners and trustees of the land.
The filed Order states:
- to restrain them (Onga, Rikihi and Kito and Fairtrade Company Ltd) and their agents, associates, friends, relative and family members from doing illegal logging operation on the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land and to remove their machineries and equipment from the long pond on Vangunu in the Western province.
- to restrain them and their agents, associates, friends, relative and family members not to make any land development dealings with regards to the land.
- to restrain them and their agents, associates, friends, relative and family members not to interfere, harass or intimidate the members of the Edward Tokuru, Paul Kito and Victory Varane and Kadiki Development Company Ltd in Honiara or on their land. Tokuru, Kito and Varane are the land owners and trustees of Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land.
- to restrain them (Onga, Rikihi and Kito) and their agents, associates, friends, relative and family members not to interfere or cause threat to the landing of the machineries of Edward Tokuru, Paul Kito and Victory Varane representing Kadiki Kale Eongo Tribe and Kadiki Development Company Ltd and their contractor Metro Team Ltd on the land.
- a court order for Onga, Rikihi and Kito and Fairtrade Company Ltd to pay the environmental damages caused to the proposed land.
Allegations contained in the filed Order include the following:
Tokuru, Kito and Varane and Kadiki Development Company Ltd after obtaining a felling licence, signed a Standard Logging Agreement with the Metro Team Ltd on September 20, 2019 and Technology Agreement on June 12, 2020 respectively to do logging within the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land.
However, the Standard Logging Agreement and the Technology Agreement were later terminated by contents of a letter dated June 25, 2020.
Tokuru, Kito and Varane and Kadiki Development Company Ltd (KDCL) following the termination, entered a Timber Harvesting and Management Agreement (THMA) with Fairtrade Company Ltd on November 2, 2020, to do logging on the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land.
However, Fairtrade Company Ltd, after signing the THMA with Tokuru, Kito and Varane and KDCL, failed to provide them with a copy (not until it was seen exhibited as “CA3” in the sworn statement of Chachabule Amoi filed on May 27, 2021 in Hcc: 174 of 2021).
Fairtrade’s Managing Director, MP Chacha Amoi, after signing the THMA had promised Tokuru, Kito and Varane and Kadiki Development Company Ltd that he would provide them with a copy as soon as he paid the stamp duty.
Tokuru, Kito and Varane and KDCL did follow-up checks with Amoi but every time the Managing Director said he would provide a copy “soon”.
This continued on for about three months after the signing.
Onga, who is of the trustees of the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land, had also attended the meeting of Feb 28, 2021 and had consented to the THMA with Fairtrade Company Ltd being terminated.
After this THMA was terminated, a new one was signed with the Metro Team Ltd.
Metro Team Ltd helped Tokuru, Kito and Varane and KDCL pay the Development Consent fee, which costed $14,000, on March 19, 2021. This resulted in the Development Consent being issued the same day in the name of Kadiki Development Company ltd.
Their lawyer, Etomea on April 15, 2021 wrote to Fairtrade Company Ltd informing it of the termination; the Commissioner of Forests was also duly informed the same day.
On April 20, 2021 Tokuru, Kito and Varane and KDCL signed the Camp and Log Pond Agreement with Metro Team Ltd for the purpose of landing machineries and storing logs extracted from the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land. However, Onga for unknown reasons did not sign.
On May 1, 2021, Onga unauthorisedly signed a Camp and Log Pond Site Memorandum of Agreement with Fairtrade Company Ltd by himself (without the consent of Rikihi and Atupia Kito).
On or about May 7, 2021, Rikihi (Onga’s brother) threatened Varane in Honiara to sign papers he had brought with him and warned him against following Tokuru.
On or about May 12, 2021, Fairtrade Company Ltd landed its machineries and started to do illegal operation within the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land without the consent of Tokuru, Kito and Varane and KDCL.
On June 18, 2021, Onga, Rikihi and Kito illegally sold more than 1000 cubic metres of round logs mainly of non-exportable species to Fairtrade Company Ltd which was transported from the Varamana Log Pond to Cuba Timber Yard owned by Fairtrade Company Ltd.
Onga, Rikihi and Kito and Fairtrade Company Ltd had illegally extracted more than 10,000 cubic metres of round log from the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land and is currently storing them at Varamana long pond.
They have caused a lot of environmental damages to the Kadiki Kale Eongo customary land out of their illegal actions.
Island Sun understands Fairtrade Company Ltd’s lawyer, Wilson Rano is expected to file defence for his client within the 28 days’ time period.