Gov’t Lauded For Clarity On Status Of Controversial Diamond

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On the heel of latest statement issued by the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Mines and Energy on the status of the much-publicized and controversial 53.34 carat diamond, the Diamond Dealers Association of Liberia has lauded the Liberian government for the clarity. According to the government in a statement issued at the weekend, the 53.34 carat diamond, which was discovered and recovered in Smith Town, Gbarma Mining District #2, in Gbarpolu County on Claim 12 F/survey was fully documented and accounted for, and thereto met all qualifying requirements for shipment out of the Country. The government informed the public that the Exporter/Dealer went through all required processes of the Minerals and Mining Law through the Gold and Diamond office at the Ministry, adding that said diamond was exported in full compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The government’s clarification came amid different public opinions, allegations and sentiments regarding the actual ownership and settlement of the diamond that has dragged ever since April of last year when the mineral was found. It can be recalled that while appearing on Spoon Talk recently, former Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, launched an attack on Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean for unjust treatment against the operator of the Lofa River Claim 12-FSurvey, where the diamond was found.   The former SG Cephus contended that government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy went on sell the diamond that was found in the claim area Mr. David Sluward on the ill-advice of the Minister of Justice.  He among other things pointed out that the government through the Mines Ministry grossly violated the rights of Claimant Sluward by ignoring the order from the court. Also, the finder of the Diamond also appeared on Freedom FM on late Monday afternoon, January 8, 2024 to express displeasure in the conduct of the government, despite accepting his benefit long time ago. Contrary to these widespread allegations against the government, most specifically Minister Dean and the Mines Ministry, the Diamond Dealers Association in a statement issued in Monrovia on Monday, January 8, 2024 pointed out that Minister Dean’s advice to the government in the saga was in the confines of the Constitution and the Mining Law of the state. According to the statement carved under the signature of the Acting President of the Diamond Dealers Association, Mr. Mohammed A. Kanneh, the diamond in question was found at the time the operational license of Mr. Sluward had expired. “First of all, the allegation by Cllr. Cephus is false and misleading. At no time did Minister Dean the Ministry of Mines and Energy participate in the sales of diamond. This claim is false. The thing here is, where the diamonds was found there was no license at the time. It got expired almost two years before then and so any mineral found there belongs to the government in reference to Section 9.9 of the Mining Law of Liberia and Article 22(b) of the Liberian Constitution,” said Mr. Kanneh. Section 9.9 of the law states that: “The duration including renewals of Mineral Rights may expire by the lapse of time, surrender of the mineral right by the holder or revocation by the government. When a mineral right expires, the right granted there under to the holder shall revert to government without charge.” Documentary evidence show that the Mining License of Mr. Sluward expired on May 25, 2022, but the Licensee made a payment on April 28, 2023, seven days after the diamond was found in an attempt to claim the diamond. Article 22 (b) of the Liberian Constitution also maintains: Private property rights, however, shall not extend to any mineral resources on or beneath any land or to any lands under the seas and waterways of the Republic. All mineral resources in and under the seas and other waterways shall belong to the Republic and be used by and for the entire Republic.” Mr. Kanneh indicated that on the expiration of this license, the Licensee Sluward was regarded as a private citizen who could not own a mineral under the ground. Regarding the main finder of the diamond in person of Mohammed Kamara, alias Junior, Mr. Kanneh disclosed that he was given a just compensation in the tone of US$90,000 in cash and two houses in a compound worth US$85000 with documented evidence. The Diamond Dealers’ Acting President indicated that any further dissatisfaction expressed by Junior is as a result of manipulation from hidden hands. Accordingly, against these allegations, the government has also clarified that a Joint Security Board of Investigation was established   comprising the Ministry of Justice, Executive Protective Service, Armed Forces of Liberia, National Security Agency, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy. “The Board which was chaired by the Ministry of Justice had the specific mandate to establish where the diamond was discovered and recovered so as to establish ownership. Their investigation which included site visitation revealed that the 53.34 carat diamond was found by one Mohamed Kamara, alias JR, near Smith Town, Gbarma Mining District #2, Lofa River, Claim 12/F Survey. However, the previous owner of Mining Claim 12 F/survey on which the diamond was discovered and recovered lost legal ownership rights to the diamond because the mining license for the said claim expired since May 25, 2022, and that the 53.34 carat diamond was found on that claim by Mohammed Kamara (commonly known as JR) on April 21, 2023,” added the government.

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