Liberia: Who’s Stopping Police from Evicting 5 Ex-employees from Morris Farm?

Francis A. Dennis, President, MARCO.   

The management of Morris American Rubber Company (MARCO, also known as ‘Morris Farm’) is calling the attention of national security authorities and the general public to ongoing tension on the premises of the rubber plantation, concerning five former employees the company has court orders to evict from the property. 

Since the Civil Law Court issued the eviction execution order at the end of March 2022, the five individuals have allegedly refused to move and started spreading misinformation that many others in the employ of the company, and who currently reside on the property, would also be evicted. 

The MARCO management, headed by Mr. Francis A. Dennis, clarified to journalists over last weekend that its request to the Civil Law Court in Montserrado County has been and remains to “evict five former and non-compliant employees and not the entire resident workers at its Plantation facilities, as speculated by some.”

According to Dennis, the five persons in question are no longer in the employ of MARCO but are still illegally occupying the company’s premises. He cited the Court’s eviction order that was served after one year of litigation between his company and those to be evicted after defeating them before the law as his reliance for the action.

“We believe in the rule of law and that’s why we stood firm fighting our case in court, not out there in the streets. We have all the rulings in our favor and we received the eviction order that should be executed by the Police as per the Court’s mandate, but it has been stalled due to the false information circulated by detractors,” he said.

On the 29th of March 2022, the Civil Law Court issued the eviction execution order for the five persons. On the basis of the court’s action and the company’s desire to hire new employees, the five persons, who were settled financially and are no longer in the employ of the company, were ordered to vacate the premises of MARCO. 

“The defendants (the five persons) in this proceeding are hereby mandated to leave the premises of the Morris American Rubber Company (MARCO) within a period of fifteen working days as of today’s date, the same being the 25th day of March 2022. Failure to leave, they shall be evicted, ejected from said property, and so ordered,” says the judgment from the Civil Law Court, copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer.

On the strength of the court judgment, a squad of police officers was arranged to effect the eviction.  But suddenly, and without notice, the police backed off and failed to show up on the day of the scheduled eviction. 

According to Dennis, the police did not tell him why they backed off from the execution of the eviction order, nor did the court take any further action. 

“MARCO is open to a peaceful conversation on the way forward,” he said. “We still look forward to the interaction but, what is clear is that we are not in the wrong. We followed the rule of law and we have exhausted all conditions necessary for the action to be effected. The people are our own people and we are not asking all of them out but those five persons who are no longer in the employ of our company. We need space for our future employees,” he said.

Dennis, an accomplished ex-banker and former president of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, said he is more concerned because of the history of deadly hostilities on the plantation. He recalled the gruesome murder of his immediate past predecessor, Keith Jubah, who was attacked in November 2009, just outside his Morris Farm residence, shot multiple times and his body burned. Jubah, a chemical engineer with more than 25 years experience in natural rubber operations at the time, doubled as president of MARCO and chairman of Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concessions Commission. Suspects were arrested and tried after the President of Liberia at the time, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, vowed to not let the perpetrators go free. 

Meanwhile, Dennis has proactively instructed the MARCO camps manager to go around the plantation and correctly inform the residents that the eviction is not intended for all of them, but only the five persons named in the Court’s order. 

“I have instructed my staff and all others in the employ of the company to remain calm. We have no guaranteed security now and we are careful so as to not escalate the situation,” the concerned farm CEO said.

Morris’s Farm, as MARCO is popularly known, is situated at the boundary between Montserrado County and Margibi County. Though it is situated in Montserrado, the majority of the employees of the company are from Margibi, mainly Kakata.

Dennis emphasized that his company is in no way getting people out of job but those who have been paid off and are no longer in the employ of the company must leave in order to provide space for the prospective employees.

He concluded by calling on the justice system to act in accordance with its calling so as to ensure the confidence reposed in it.