WEWAK’S Kriminding villagers want the Catholic diocese of Wewak to halt all development projects until a land ownership dispute is settled by the court.
Landowner spokesman Newman Felix Wamangen told The National last week that their land marked Portion 16 from Urarembi creek,Wirui, to Imoro creek near Kaindi was acquired by the church in the early 1880s from their forefathers without any proper written agreement.
“We have nothing in our records. There were no written agreements on the sale of this portion of land, record of receipts of payments or signing of deed of release,” Mr Wamangen said.
He said the landowners were frustrated to see a number of projects being implemented on their land when its ownership had yet to be decided by the court.
He said the church’s 99-year lease agreement, which they verbally agreed on with their forefathers, had expired and the land should be returned to them.
“The church has gone ahead with new projects on the land and also instituted legal proceedings against us early last year,” he said.
The landowners, represented by William Akuani Lawyers, have also written to lawyers representing the church to abstain from carrying out any development on the land until the matter is settled by the courts.
“We are upset because projects like the orphanage home, elementary school, auxiliary police base in Nuigo and the relocation of Walu settlers of Wewak dump site to the cow paddock had commenced when the decision on land ownership has not been made by the National Court.
“The relocation project, spearheaded by Habitat for Humanity, had been shelved after we raised our complaints.
“The church should also order a stop to all other projects until everything is settled in court,” Mr Wamangen said.