Monrovia — Associate Justice Yussif D. Kaba is calling on the 54th Legislature to confer administrative power on the Liberia Land Authority (LLA) to hear and determine land disputes void of fraud and other issues subject to judicial review.
Justice Kaba said giving the LLA the legal authority to hear and determine land disputes subject to judicial review will reduce the huge number of land dispute cases pending before the circuit and probate courts.
Justice Kaba made the statement when he was addressing delegates at the just ended 4th National Judicial Conference on the topic:" Ensuring the Effective Involvement of the Probate Court in Land Registration, Recording and Tracking Chain of Title", under the general topic: "Improving Land Resolution as an Incentive for Investment and Economic Growth".
"In order to cut down on the dockets of the Circuit Courts, and exploit the expertise of the technical capacity of the Liberia Land Authority, administrative investigative authority be conferred on the Authority (Land Authority) to hear and determine and dispute not involving fraud or related issues subject however to judicial review by the Court's," Justice added.
Justice Kaba added that in order to accomplish this task, the James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute would help train staffers of the Land Authority to fulfill the obligation.
"The James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute could serve as trainers of the Land Authority staff in the rudiments of the due process required to fulfill this responsibility," he said.
Associate Justice Kaba further stated that the effective involvement of the Probate Courts in land dispute resolution is only achievable by the full implementation of the land registry system, and adhering to its own rules on notice of offer for probate prior to recording and registering through the Land Authority which is the lawful authority to administer the deed registry in the country.
"Mandating the Probate Courts to close all estates that have lived for more than two years and subject all real property of such estates not in adjudicated areas to adjudication under Chapter 8 of the Property Law Revised Code, and to ensure that any instrument affecting or relating to land offer for probate shall first obtain clearance from the LLA and the LRA."
He added, "And ensuring that any survey conducted in the Republic of Liberia, whether public or private, must be authorized by the LLA. And mandating that all the title deeds offered for probate must first be authenticated by the LLA, after a survey and a resolution of all disputes, if any, in keeping with due process."
The issue of land dispute in every corners and spectrum of the Liberian society is rampant and on the increase on a daily basis. It is one of the most reported cases at every level of the courts system within the Liberian Judiciary.
Out of every cases reported at the Liberian Judiciary, particularly the courts, land dispute cases account for half of the total number of cases reported.
Howbeit, mitigating the issue (land dispute) is a serious challenge in the country. This may be due to the lack of resources, manpower, expertise or the lack of political will to fully implement or enforce the existing land laws.
Moreover, many Liberians hold the view that land dispute, if not properly handled by relevant government institutions responsible, or by national government, it may lead to another civil conflict.
Recently, Liberians witnessed a destructive land dispute in Nimba County that led to the burning of the biggest warehouse in Ganta City, allegedly destroying over LD$34 million worth of goods.
The burning of the warehouse came a day after the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in the county (Nimba County) ruled in a long-standing land dispute in favor of a resident of Ganta, Fred Suah, against four different family members believed to be from the ethnic group.
The land case had been lingering before the court for over 12 years.