Monday, October 22, 2012

Sales of Nkambe Council Land Sparks Controversy

The Nkambe Council is in a state of commotion following a decision by the Senior Divisional Officer for Donga Mantung Division, Nzekie Theophile to allocate part of the Council land to some elite. According to information at our disposal, the hullabaloo started when council staff spotted people planting pillars on what they understand to be part of Nkambe council land. What followed immediately was the seizure and confiscation of the pillars which almost resulted to the arrest and detention of council staffs. In a bit to uncover the truth, staffs of the council were shocked to realize that the authorization to place pillars on the said piece of land was from the Senior Divisional Officer for Donga Mantung Division. The land which according to the administration falls within the category of state land has become the center of controversy yet, council officials say “it is an obnoxious act to deprive the Nkambe council of it property which they cannot watch it happen”.  When contacted, the SDO for Donga Mantung Division refuted allegations that he was selling council land. He however told this reporter that in his capacity as the Senior Divisional Officer, he only allocated the plot for elite who wanted to develop the land and it is the duty of the Minister of Land Tenure and State Property to take the final decision. He cited the case of the Catholic Church which was approved from Yaounde. He however referred the issue to the law of 1976 which clearly states that assets of the council which are not registered in conformity to that law automatically belong to the state. Accordingly, the SDO also said that the area in question needs a certain standard of houses and that if an elite want to use the land properly, it is the duty of the state to allocate rather than allow it for farming of crops. “We need modern houses, hotels and others and that area is good for such structures” he argued. It is even alleged that the Divisional Delegation of Land Tenure has already designed a map and the plots have been apportioned without the knowledge of the Nkambe Council. More, the present location of the Nkambe Council has been named as "Government Station New layout". 
On his part the Mayor of Nkambe Council Mangoh Jones Tanko decried fault and added that in 2004, former SDO for Donga Mantung Division by then Nasseri Paul Bia carried out a similar act and gave part of the council land to the military. Mangoh Jones said he was shocked to see that even the Nkambe Council forest may be taken over by the state without him being aware. He said the law on decentralization doesn't provide such premise and added that Chapter Three (section 14) of the Law No 2004 of 18 July 2004 states that " Lands considered as National land may, as and when necessary be registered in the name of the council especially to serve as a basis for public utility projects". He emphasized on the word "may be registered" and not must be registered as it made to believe with the distribution of land by the Senior Divisional Officer.
He said “we were taken aback when council staff moved to that part of the forest and they were chased away by the military. It was thanks to my intervention that it didn’t generate to fighting”. Mangoh Jones like many others are of the opinion that Nkambe Council land is not for distribution or sale giving that with the ongoing decentralization, the council needs land to put up befitting infrastructure to better serve the population. He said measures have been put for elite to acquire plots at the Nkambe new layout at affordable prices. On the 1976 law on council assets, Mangoh Jones said it is not the fault of Nkambe Council and many others in the country that all the documents that were sent to Yaounde for the councils to acquire land titles for their plots got burnt. He however said that the fact that the council doesn’t have a land title doesn’t mean that it property should be shared without them being aware. He however vowed that anyone who thinks he/she can pass through the administration to deprive the council of it property should consider his/herself in a state of sin. Elite, he said should protect the Nkambe council property and not contribute to it destruction. Public opinion in Nkambe is so stained on the issue. Many are of the opinion that if the procedure continues, the population should move to the street. Another school of thought holds that the council should never award a building permit to anyone found in any of its plot yet, majority of those who spoke to us are of the opinion that the matter be taken to the street. “We have observed that the administration continue to act as if the Council not a state institution or it is because we are in border that people turn to do what pleases them”, John Kilo questioned. To Kargong James, if the administration wants that they should decry the matter in the street, it would be done for Yaounde to understand what Nkambe has been undergoing. Kimbi Nsakwa on his part was astounded and wondered why elite who are suppose to meet traditional rulers to have land for free should be running after the administration for land in a bit to create disorder. He said anyone elite worth of salt is suppose to have land for construction for free (To be continued)

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

No comments: