Haiveta Kivia | POst Courier
A Local Land Court Decision in 1981 awarded ownership of Mangense Land to the Babuaf (Babwaf) clan which covers Wafe (Wafi) Explorations License (EL) 440 and EL 1105.
The Babuafs are Lower Watut River people and they speak the Wampar (Markham) language. Wafe (Wafi) in their language means crab, in particular little black and red crabs that live along the banks of rivers in their area and that is where Wafi derived its name.
The Babuaf are split into two sub-clans Babuaf Saab and Babuaf Wale.
The 1981 Local Land Court decision that awarded ownership of Wafi and in particular EL 440 and EL 1103 still stands. It has never been set aside and appealed successfully by any disputing parties in the fight for ownership of the land at the Wafi-Golpu Mining Project on the borders of Bulolo and Huon Districts in Morobe province.
Wafi-Golpu according to latest exploration statistics is said to become the third largest mine in the World but some experts are predicting that it will be the largest.
However, landownership of EL 440, 1105 and 1103 is still being disputed and the fight lingers on in the court rooms of Bulolo, Mumeng, Lae and Port Moresby.
The dispute centres more on EL 440 and 1105 which is Wafi while EL 1103 is Golpu.
Court Documents dating as far as 1981 obtained by Post-Courier from a Bill Itamar, the Chairman of Sa’ab Babuaf Resources Limited, is contrary to what other claimants have stated in the newspapers and have reported to reporters and media outlets.
A Local Land Court sat in Mumeng in 1981 and 1982 after hearing all evidence, awarded the ownership to Babuaf, based on ancestral evidence.
That decision was appealed by Engabu (Hengabu- the same) tribe of Mumeng in 1983 to the District Land Court but the decision of the Local Land Court was upheld and the case was thrown out.
Mr Itamar said another appeal was launched through the District Land Court and was thrown out because the rules of the courts were not followed.
He said their ownership was also recognised by the National Court through Originating Summons 19 of 1987 before Justice Woods.
“All these decisions have not been challenged for the last 31 years and other claimants are misleading everyone,” he said.
According to the documents Babuaf then sought to evict the Engabus and an Eviction Order was granted in 1983 for the Engabus to be evicted from the vicinity of the Wafi-Golpu project area.
That order was reinforced again through Originating Summons 736 in the National Court in Lae before Acting Judge Justice Nema Yalo in 2008.
Mr Itamar said Justice Yalo had ordered for the Engabus to be evicted and that they are unlawfully occupying the land but they have defied the Court Orders to date, and are in Contempt of Court.
He also clarified that the Hengabu and Yanta clans only have 50/50 Compensation Rights at Wafi-Golpu for destruction of gardens, cash crops and sacred, ceremonial trees and grounds.
He said they want the Special Land Titles Commission discontinued by the Somare-Abal Government to be reconvened by
O’Neill/Dion Government and for the matter to be heard and be put to rest once and for all.
The matter is afoot in the Supreme Court in Port Moresby and is sought by Thomas Nen on behalf of Babuaf clan and others