THE NEW TODAY is making out a cause for government to suspend the Possessory Title Act 22 of 2016 due to abuse by some locals who are using the Covid-19 period to try and steal lands especially belonging to persons living outside of Grenada.
It is our understanding that this piece of legislation was taken by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration from the neighouring island of St. Vincent & The Grenadines.
The intention of the law is noble but these are not normal times that we are operating in and some people are trying to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Covid-19 to do wrong thing with people’s land.
There is an issue at hand at the moment in which an individual who owns and operates a small business in the south of the island deliberately tried to use the act to “steal” a parcel of land in the St. George North-west constituency.
The fact of the matter is that the attention of many persons in our midst are focused almost 100 % right now on survival from the virus and nothing else.
Against this backdrop, persons of a particular crooked mindset are using the opportunity to engage in illegal acts including deliberate attempts to steal people’s property.
In the case of this business operator in the southern part of the country, he was able to make an application to obtain Possessory Title for the land that belongs to a Grenadian who is living in the United States.
THE NEW TODAY is aware that the necessary advertisement of the property had started since one of the two publications as required by law had actually taken place.
The government is fully aware that Covid-19 has forced all local newspapers to produce only online versions of their publications and not hard copies and most of these Possessory Title notices will escape the regular eye of the reading public.
The issue was brought to the attention of THE NEW TODAY and upon investigation found out that the culprit had indeed approached the owner of the property about eight years ago to sell him the land.
There was no agreement reached on sale of the property but the businessman moved quickly in approaching the high court with an application to try and give him title to the lady’s property.
Our investigation revealed that he committed perjury by swearing on oath that he had been in possession of the property for the past 12 years but admitted to us under questioning that he did approach the owner about 8 years ago to sell him the land.
Faced with the threat of exposure and public ridicule over this scandal in the making, the businessman called his attorney-at-law the next day and withdrew the application before the court to seek Possessory Title of the land that never belonged to him.
THE NEW TODAY is warning the Mitchell-led government that it runs the risk of seeing some people resorting to violent acts if they lose their lands in these circumstances especially during this period of Covid 19.
There are Grenadians both locally and living outside of the country who are not aware of the publication of these notices by tricksters who are using the cover of Covid-19 to try and prey on people’s property.
In the instant case, the owner of the property was making a financial contribution to government by paying her property tax using the online facility provided by the Inland Revenue Department of the Ministry of Finance.
The rightful owner has been in possession of her land for over 20 years now.
The State has a right to protect such an individual from wrongdoers by taking the necessary steps in this Covidous times to make it difficult for these vultures to steal people’s land unknowingly to them.
If the government is collecting millions of dollars each year from land owners in the form of taxes, it is duty bound to protect these property owners in this Covid-19 period from these creatures who are trying to take advantage of the opportunity when most persons are distracted from their normal life.
THE NEW TODAY has been alerted by at least two similar situations involving two law firms who are battling right now with individuals who are using this period of uncertainty to steal property in St. George and St. Andrew under the Possessory Title Act 22 of 2016.
This newspaper is not in principle against the act but the government has a responsibility to take steps to make sure that these wrongdoers are prevented from getting ownership of people’s property in such an illegal manner.
This kind of activity might force the true owners of the property to resort to violent means including the spilling of blood to deal with these culprits.