Civil Law Court “B” Judge J. Boima Kontoe has granted government’s plea to dismiss pre – war ruling True Whig Party (TWP’s) request to return to it the E.J. Roye building seized by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) government following a coup against president William R. Tolbert’s government.
Authorities at the Ministry of Justice battled against TWP counsels over the ownership of the property that had been used as TWP headquarters prior to its seizure by the PRC.
Constructed from taxes cut from citizens during the rule of a practically one – party state under TWP, a PRC Decree #11 of 1980 confiscated the property and its title immediately vested in the Republic of Liberia as matter of law.
In making their case to maintain ownership of the structure, government lawyers including Solicitor General Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo reminded the Court that the entire E.J. Roye building was confiscated by the PRC government under Decree #11 in 1980 following a coup d’etat that overthrew late President William R. Tolbert, Jr’s government.
The government says by virtue of the confiscation, the TWP was divested of the building and its title immediately vested in government. The State recounts that Article 97 of the 1986 Constitution expressly legitimized the Decree promulgated by the PRC.
In so doing, the authorities say there was a mandate that no executive, legislative, judicial or administrative actions taken by the PRC or any persons whether military or civilians in the name of the council pursuant to any of its decrees shall be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever.
Government continues that Article 97 also states that “it shall not be lawful for any court or other tribunal to make any order or grant any remedy or relief in respect of any such act.”
The State lawyers say the court lacks the power to question PRC Decree #11 or to give any orders or grant any remedy or relief in respect to the request made by the TWP.
They argued that a referendum held on 3 July 1984 on the Liberian Constitution, approved by 98.6 percent of voters with a turnout of 82 percent. During such time, government says Liberians decided that the PRC decrees shall not be questioned in any court or proceedings of whatever nature within Liberia.
TWP in response claimed that Article 97 of the 1986 Constitution does not cover real property, arguing that the confiscation of the property on 12 April 1980 was transitory in possession and did not convey any title deed to a third party.
TWP wonders why government allegedly requested original warranty deed from the party in a MoU if it claims to own the property where the party had its headquarters.
They also questioned the logic of agreeing to pay a gratuitous sum of US$225,000 of taxpayers’ money to those it dealt with and to remove them from its own property.
Meanwhile, the Court dismissed the TWP’s petition for declaratory judgment on Wednesday, 6 September, and granted government’s motion. The TWP has announced an appeal to the Supreme Court.
By Winston W. Parley