Residents of Grand Bassa County Electoral District number three (3) B & C Community Forest are calling on President George M. Weah to intervene in what is becoming an alleged corrupt act allegedly being carried out by some senior officials of the Community Forest Management Body (CFMB).
According to the residents, their leaders have reportedly refused to work along with members of the Forest Leadership because of what they termed as their personal interest.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with this paper recently in Monrovia, the group noted that after it was discovered that their officials were not acting in the interest of the people who elected them to serve as heads, they were invited by the Community Assembly members on several occasions to have the matter resolved but to no avail.
According to them, they also complained their leaders to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Management as well as the leadership of the county (Grand Bassa) about their self-imposed leadership style and ‘act of lawlessness’ without respect for the rule of law after they refused to submit to the general body.
“They refused to come so we can settle the matter as they thought the Community Forest was their private property, and based on their strong connection to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), they thought that no elder or community assembly member could question their authority. In the same vein, the county authority also invited them for consultation but they refused to appear before them,” they lamented.
The Grand Bassa District #3 B & C Community Forest residents asserted that after all efforts to get their leaders to the table failed, they filed a resolution casting a vote of “No Confidence” in those officials whose action could not be accepted any longer.
Accordingly, a resolution was filed on December 17, 2018 informing the FDA that their officials namely, Ben Bueh, Jeremiah Garpue and CFNB Chairman, Janjay Komman were no longer recognized to serve in their respective positions as heads of the Community Forest leadership.
The group said since they wrote the Management of the Forestry Development Authority in December 2018 informing them about their action against the three officials, they have not gotten any tangible answer from FDA yet.
“In view of the above, we are appealing to President Weah to speedily intervene in the matter as we have already written an invitation letter to the FDA Management as well as Civil Society Organizations informing them about our election which took place on February 1, 2019. Mr. President we are of the strong conviction that your leadership is not one that will support the suppression and suffering of the underprivileged,” they noted.
In response, FDA Technical Director, Gertrude Nyaley noted that the FDA is not refusing to recognize the newly elected officials of the Community Forest leadership, but added that the group failed to follow the right path in replacing their leaders.
Chapter 4 of the Community Forest Law states that: “The Community Assembly shall establish a five-member Community Forest Management Body to manage the day-to-day affairs of the Authorized Forest Community. The Community Forest Management Body shall include at least one woman. No member of the National Legislature shall be a Community Forest Management Body.”
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the FDA, C. Mike Doryen has assured the concerned citizens that under his administration they will have the opportunity to fully participate in any further negotiation with investors.
He spoke in an interview with reporters in response to the citizens’ claims.