…after co-op member fraudulently obtains new leaseA group of farmers on the Corentyne are calling on the Chief Co-operatives Development Officer, Perlina Gifth, to fast track the revocation of a land lease that was granted to a family through fraudulent misrepresentation.Guyana Times was told that several decades ago, the Johns/Clifton Co-operative Society Limited had obtained a block of land from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), which was then divided among its 30 members, who have since built their homes on the front part of the land and got involved in various agricultural activities on the back part of the lands.A few years ago, through the then Ministry of Housing, the 30 families managed to get transport for the lands their homes were built on, while the farm lands at the back remained on lease.This newspaper understands that, over the years, the co-op had become defunct and the lease expired about two years. As such, the farmers approached the only surviving founding member of the Co-op to have the lease renewed, and they had approached GuySuCo for same.However, the founding member went behind their backs and gathered members of his immediate and extended family, and went to re-register the co-op without the knowledge of the other existing members.They reported withhold this and other critical information about the history of theThe aggrieved farmers with their lawyer Anil Nandlall on Fridayco-op from the authorities, and managed to get the lease renewed, with new members for some 350 acres of lands, including the portion that has been transformed into transported lands, where the old members are residing. The holders of the new lease, none of whom lives in the ‘co-op area’ that was part of the original lease, are now attempting to take control over the lands.The new lease was issued by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), which has taken over portions of GuySuCo’s assets, including canefields, to divest.After finding out about the new lease, the old members, most of whom are farmers, then went to the State’s Privatisation Unit and informing them that the authorities there were misled into granting the new lease with false information provided.The lawyer of the aggrieved farmers, Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, said NICIL has since agreed to revoke the new lease, but only after being given the go ahead by the Chief Co-op Officer.“NICIL has promised to revoke the new lease and work with the Co-op officer in bring a resolution to this matter. Unfortunately, the Co-op Officer is not acting with the speed that is required, and as time passes, the situation becomes progressively worse on the ground to the extent now where there is physical confrontation taking place between the old members and the new members of the Society,” Nandlall explained.The farmers disclosed that the Chief Co-op Officer a few months ago had promised to have it revoked, but this is yet to happen.“Ms Gifth admitted that her office had made a mistake and given this land to this guy them, and she will try her best to bring it to a resolution; but, up to today, nothing happened… I glad if the Chief Co-op officer could do something very soon, because this thing dragging for a very long time, and we running out of patience,” one of the farmers, Doodnauth Persaud, related to this publication.On Friday, Nandlall’s office contacted the Chief Co-op Officer and she asked to meet again with the farmers. And during that meeting, she told the men to produce copies of their transport and receipts from selling produce from the leases to show that the lands were being used.“Now, when the truck come and load up the paddy and take it to the mill, we don’t collect receipt or anything; and when people come buy one or two chickens, I don’t give them receipt so where we gonna find that to give her…? It look like she dragging she foot on this matter,” Persaud lamented.Meanwhile, the farmers are currently living in fear. Another farmer, Ramrattan Mohabir, has decried that since the new lease was granted since last year, they are being threatened and prevented from using the lands which they have been occupying for decades.“They put a gate on the dam and padlock it so nobody can’t go at the back there to do anything except them… They saying that the lands [at the back] was not being occupied and was not being cultivated, but only as recent as March, rice was reaped from the land, and I even have about 80 coconut trees but I can’t even go in there,” the frustrated man said.