TADA and TDCS at Daggers Drawn Over Defunct SODEPA Land

The SODEPA land was carved out for cattle rearing

The SODEPA land was carved out for cattle rearing

For the past few years, tension has gradually been building up to near volcanic proportion in the Locality of Tadu, Kumbo Central, between the people represented by the Tadu Development Association (TADA) and the management and authority of the Tadu Diary Cooperative Society (TDCS) over who owns and should use part of the vast state land left behind by the defunct SODEPA.

Recently, TADA launched a complaint at the office of the SDO Bui against Shang Lawrance of TDCS for “continuous harassment and intimidation of inhabitants of Tadu”. In the complaint dated February 25, 2016, signed by the president General of TADA Mformba Masahuduo Suinteng and the village head Jorro Usmanu Mbinkar, the villagers complained of “individual and collective” harassment of the people of Tadu by the said Shang Lawrence. They pointed out that TDCS has occupied their land, caused the detention of the village head, chased hundred of farming villagers from a potato farming valley, and the repeated destruction of vegetables and potato from a village group farm. They also complained of Shang Lawrence indicting them for trespassing on their land, and for failing to extend social benefits to the people of Tadu for all this while he has been exploiting their land.

The complaint ends by indulging the authorities to “urge Shang Lawrence and TDCS to pay to these poor farmers the damage in its entirety”, allow the people of Tadu to reoccupy their highly needed and dully acquired land and for Shang Lawrance to “stop molesting naïve Cameroonians for no tangible reasons”.

In another letter dated April 30, 2016, addressed to the president of the Republic through the governor of the NW region, with subject “Plight of the people of Tadu”they village development association pleads with the Head of State to cede 500 hectares of the SODEPA land to the over 10,000 inhabitants of Tadu to use for farming, construction and other developmental purposes. In the letter TADA writes that Tadu village lacks farming land, building space and the small farming area that has been sustaining them for the past 50 years has been confiscated from them.

Genesis of Crisis 

According to documents BamendaOnline came across, TADA applied for a land grant over the said parcel of national Land at Tadu Village in December 1999 which is backed by a receipt issued by the Divisional Chief of Lands for Bui on December 22, 1999. TADA went ahead to pay the required money order of 5000 Frs. on March 3, 2000. The SDO for Bui convened the Land Consultative Board, and following prefectoral order No 026/2000 signed on February 23, 2000, fixing the dates for assessing the occupation and exploitation of national lands, the date of March 6, 2000 was set aside for the inspection of the requested land at Tadu village. The visit to Tadu was finally carryout on the 23rd of March 2000. It was during this inspection that it was found out that the said piece of land measuring 110 hectares had been ceded to TDCS coordinated by Shang Lawrence by the Minister of Livestock. And because of this, the D.O declared that he was incompetent to carve out part of the land to hand over to TADA for the construction of a village play ground and community hall. The land demarcation was called off and the problem forwarded to hierarchy.

The SDO convened a meeting with the stake holders in his office on June 27, 2000 to look into the complaints and counter claims over the disputed piece of land. During the meeting, it emerged that the proper channels were not followed to hand over the land to TDCS and Shang Lawrence as required by law despite claims backed by some documents presented by Shang Lawrence. According to the minutes of that meeting, the Minister of livestock had addressed a letter to the SDO of Bui dated March 23, 1992 captioned “assistance to Tadu Diary Cooperative  Society” appreciating their activities and requesting the SDO to used the means at his disposal to assist the chief of sector for livestock to allocate land to TDCS. This was followed up by a letter from the SDO in July 1992 requesting the Chief of sector to let him know the area of land needed and their location so as to set up a land commission.

The Chief of Sector instead when ahead to write a letter to the president of TDCS on July 15, 1994 captioned “allocation of land for diary factory” in which he made reference to the minister of livestock’s letter to the SDO and went ahead to hand over 110 hectares of land belonging to the former SODEPA to the society. This letter was copied the minister and others but excluding the SDO. The minister replied to the chief of sector’s letter, signaling his approval. This transfer according to the chief of lands was never sanctioned by his hierarchy as required by law.

It also emerged in the resolution of the meeting that the minister of Lands can only transfer land less than 50 hectares and anything above that can only be authorized by the signature of the head of state, and that the structures already erected on the land are illegal and called for peaceful coexistence amongst others.

Crisis Hurting Bui Diary Sector

Despite the decision of that meeting calling for the TDCS and Tadu community to live in harmony, the relationship has never improved beyond that stage since then, with both sides eying each other with disdain. TDCS is the leading diary producer in Bui Division. The village of Tadu become well known nationwide due to the Tadu yougourt, produced by TDCS and widely consume in parts of the country.

Tadu Yogourt

Tadu Yogourt

The Tadu Diary Cooperative Society has been working hard to stimulate diary production from this part of the country but has seen some substantial government grants withheld due to the continuing crisis and standoff with TADA. BamendaOnline gathered that over 1.8 billion Frs of government grants has been blocked due to the crisis. It has also emerged that earlier foreign grants handed over to TDCS from the some foreign partners has not been accounted for. This problem has been compounded by some share holders of TDCS asking for a statement of account with regards to this aid and cars that were handed over to the society for which no account has been rendered to them.



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