Although erected from taxpayers’ money, E.J. Roye Building on Ashmun Street had been with TWP for centuries when the country was run under a one party system. Party hierarchs have recently been negotiating the building’s takeover with the government.
But other TWP members, apparently not pleased with the manner of the negotiations, have since sough to fight the case after being expelled by their leaders.
The latest bickering came last week when Mr. E. Reginald Goodridge, a former official of former president Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP), now a member of TWP, appeared on television to say that he would challenge the government over its ongoing assessment of the building.
TWP has authorized the government to assess E.J. Roye Building and determine the extent of the structural damages. This came after the party officials rejected government’s offer of US$50,000 for the building, according to sources
Mr. Goodridge who said he was taking the government to the Supreme Court, called on it to “leave our building.”
But TWP officials, led by national chairman Peter W. Vuku, made it clear that Mr. Goodridge was neither an executive nor an official of the party and as such he had no authority whatsoever to speak on any issue concerning the Party. He said no individual has the authority to reverse the decision for the government to assess the building.
“The fact of the matter is that TWP, following an extensive consultation with major stakeholders, accepted the ‘Premise of Eminent Domain’ during the tenure of Justice Minister Philip A.Z. Bank, now a Supreme Court Justice, when Mr. Goodridge was still a member of the National Patriotic Party. “
Cautioning the public not to give credence to Mr. Goodridge’s comments, Vuku warned that any individual or institution doing business with Mr. Goodridge on behalf of the party would be doing so at their own risk.
The party has a leadership that is recognized by the National Elections Commission which, he said, has the legal mandate to negotiate and conclude all matters concerning TWP.
TWP’s leadership feud was recently decided by the National Elections Commission (NEC) when Goodridge and others filed a complaint in June last year alleging that a vote of no confidence had been declared or cast against the Peter Vuku leadership for lacking authority to conduct the party affairs.
This followed after Goodridge and eight other were expelled for switching their support to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf without the knowledge and approval of party officials. The expellees said the action against them was without legal justification. They went ahead and conducted their own convention, electing Goodridge as their leader.
In the complaint, Goodridge and others claimed that party officials granted an “unauthorized lease to a Lebanese national for the use of the TWP property and that the Vuku leadership had received US$50,000 for the building on behalf of TWP and has misapplied the money.”
Following a hearing, the expulsion of the nine members was lifted but the hearing officer ruled that NEC recognized Goodridge as a member and not an official or executive of the party. The officer also said NEC recognized the Peter Vuku leadership.
Goodridge took an appeal to the Board of Commissioners of NEC. However, he lost a significant point that sought to oust the Vuku leadership. “The procedure adopted by appellants in attempting to oust the Vuku-Mason leadership is a strange practice which NEC as a regulatory institution must discourage,” NEC said.
NEC maintained that the Vuku-Mason leadership remained recognized by NEC, declaring that the attempt to oust the Vuku leadership was null and void.
NEC authorized Peter W. Vuku to take the party to a new convention at the earliest possible time to be recognized as the part’s 35th convention.