In December, we told you about the Statutory Instrument which the Briceno Administration passed shortly after taking office. That's the one to block the electronic payment for land transactions to the bank account for the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde told 7News that this was done so that he and his team could investigate any last-minute hustling at the Lands Department before the PUP won the General Elections. But, there was public speculation that it was actually done to prevent would-be landowners from finalizing any land transactions they entered into with the outgoing Barrow Government.

Some of those aggrieved Belizeans sought legal assistance from Attorney OJ Elrington's law firm to apply pressure to the Ministry on their behalf. And tonight, Elrington is reporting that he has successfully intervened on behalf of over 15 hundred applicants to get their land transactions processed.

We've seen a letter from Talbert Brackett, the new Commissioner of Lands And Surveys, dated February 25th, 2021. It says, quote,

"… Please be advised that your clients can formally proceed to make payments at any of our offices."

End quote.

Today, we spoke via Zoom teleconference with Elrington about these successful interventions. Here's what he told us about the process of getting his clients' accounts at the Lands Department unblocked:

Orson "OJ" Elrington - Attorney

"There are two things here. There is the SI, which you know was passed, which indeed disallows persons from being able to do online payments. That's one thing. But, I believe outside of that, and more importantly, was a blocking of the accounts, basically, a hold, which prevented - or which still prevents persons from being able to make payments for land that was distributed by the last administration. That is still a problem that exists, however, as I had expressed to the media, I will be honest and stay when the Government at least making a step in the right direction. And indeed, with the unlocking - whenever we have written to them, and brought it to their attention, that clients want to make payments toward their accounts, they have unlocked them. And the last batch, as you just stated, was over 1500, and I receive that letter, I believe, last week."

Reporter

"Was there any explanation given to you or your law firm as to why this was done?"

Orson "OJ" Elrington

"No, no explanation was provided to us. I think that they had made a public declaration that the reason that they were doing so was to conduct investigations into the validity of the issuing of these accounts. And so, that is the only thing that we have to go by. But, again, there was no legal reason for them to be able to block the accounts, and that was our legal position. That continues to be our legal position. To my knowledge, the vast majority of them are first-time landowners. I can't say if every single one of them is a first-time landowner, but I can tell for a fact that the vast majority of them are first-time landowners. Everything person, obviously, is ecstatic. A piece of land is your tool of transformation. It is generational wealth. It is something that can change the lives of individuals."

Elrington tells us that he is still receiving requests from other aggrieved Belizeans who are seeking his legal assistance.

Channel 7