Liberia: LTTC Company Wins Legal Battle

The Circuit court in Sanniquellie, Nimba County has handed down its verdict in favor of Liberia Tree and Tree Company(LTTC) and its Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Ricks Toweh, former lawmaker of district number six of Nimba.LTTC is a legal logging company that has been operating in the Doru Chiefdom for some time now.

Recently, it was reported in local media that residents of Doru Chiefdom in Nimba County accused, Hon. Toweh's company (Liberia Tree & Trading Corporation (LTTC), of not refusing to pay an amount of US$800.000(Eight hundred thousand United States dollars) as part of agreement entered into with the community.

Gborto sued LTTC saying that the company owed the people of the Doru Chiefdom said amount.

But In the ruling handed down by Judge James N. Gilayeneh assigned circuit judge presiding, sates that Gborto was not the right person to take any legal action against the company. More so, he Gborto, was dismissed by the chiefs and elders of the the district for criminal reasons.

"Wherefore and in view of the foregoing laws, facts and documents, it is the ruling and judgment of this court that this lacks jurisdiction over their case because, first the petitioner lacked the capacity to sue(referring to Gborto) at the time the petition was filed and secondly, because it lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter in that arbitration is premature and has not been invoked in keeping with the relevant laws controlling," the court's document said.

The document further said, "accordingly, the amended petition is dismissed, the petition is hereby granted and petition is hereby denied."

"Accordingly, the entire action/suit is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction in the court and the parties are hereby ordered to returned to status quo ante as though this action was never filed. For the sake of clarify, the community Assembly and its Executive Committee represented by its chairman, Mr. James T. Tiah remain the proper and only legal authority pf the Doru Community Forest. The court also declares that Mr. Cisco Gborto remain dismissed until otherwise declared by the proper forum and the LTTC remains the concessionaire, subject to the terms of the Agreement with the Doru Community Forest Cost of these proceedings ruled against the petitioner. And it is hereby so ordered and adjudged," it said.

It can be recalled that In 2010, the LTTC and the people of Doru Chiefdom, through the Chiefdom's Community Forest Management Body (CFMB) entered into a community forest agreement for the duration of 25 years.

It was agreed that logging operations upon the signing of all relevant documents with the land government agencies and the issuance of logging permit by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in keeping with the community rights law of 2009, the LTTC shall pay US$2.50 per hectare annually to the Doru Chiefdom representing land rental for the use of the 36,700 forest land.

The document mandates the LTTC to construct one clinic and a school--elementary and a high school--for the community at an estimated cost of US$85,000. It also demands the company to construct a second clinic after six years of operations.

According to an official from LTTC, Madam Yonyon Johnson Toweh, Gboto, prior to going into court received materials for the construction of a number of hand pumps for the community. "But he Gboto took constructed one of the pumps in front of his house to the chiefdom and constructed another one near Debois's house."

"More to that, we have constructed two schools, which are about to be completed. After the town people realized that Gborto and Debois had received the money and did not report to them, they asked him to account. Gborto could not. This led the Chiefs and citizens to dismiss him. That he was corrupt and could not account for money given to them by LTTC."

"On the US$50,000(fifty thousand USD), when we realized that there was confusion, we gave the money to Forestry Development Authority(FDA) to better deal with the issue. After the confusion was resolved, FDA made the payment to the Chiefdom without Gborto's involvement," she said.

She added that the company paid about US$100.000(One hundred thousand United States dollars) into Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA) account as part of the government's revenue.

LTTC is one of the leading logging companies in Liberia. Its CEO is credited with long time logging experience.

Public advised not to do business with Gboto

Due to what the elders called Gboto's alleged act of corruption, they have issued a public service announcement for the public not to transact any business with him.

The announcement issued on October 15, 2019 states: "This is to inform the General public that Mr. Cisco Gborto, of the Doru Authorized Community Forest, located in Doru Chiefdom, Nimba County, and Mr. Nathaniel Terry were dismissed on the 4thof March 2018 for misapplication of community funds.

"Since their dismissal, they have been doing business under the pretex that they are still under the employ of the Doru Authorized Community Forest.

"Anyone doing business with Mr. Cisco Gborte and Nathaniel Terry will be doing so at his or own risk," the announcement issued by the Executive Council of the Doru Authorized Community Forest said.

When this paper called both Terry and Gborto for comments, their phones were off.

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