Following hours of legal arguments yesterday at the Supreme Court between lawyers representing Mary Broh’s Taskforce and the aggrieved citizens, Justice in Chamber, Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, announced the lifting of the stay order which the court placed on the Taskforce.
Justice Ja’neh also instructed the Taskforce not to demolish any structures, but rather refer anything that has to do with demolition to the court, and wait for further decision from the court before the Taskforce can take any action.
“Do not break down any structures that may be considered dirty or dilapidated, rather seek the legal recourse because your mandate is to clean the city. If a structure is on the alley, refer that house owner to the requisite authority. But if there is a contention, take that person to court. If you fail to do so, and I hear any more complaints, I will fine you and or send you to jail,” Justice Ja’neh warned Broh and her team before a large crowd at the court.
When the decision was announced, our court reporter said some in the crowd expressed the fear that Broh will no longer return to the streets. Others were happy that the court lifted the stay order because they felt that it was about time to clean up the environment especially during the festive season.
There was drama on the street between the Temple of Justice and the Executive Mission on Monday when Madam Broh and a crowd of her supporters displayed placards saying, “Where are the politicians when dirt is taking over the country?” and “We are going to fight against dirt to clean our environment.” The crowd was protesting against the Supreme Court’s order halting Broh’s Presidential Taskforce which was mandated to clean up and beautify the city of Monrovia.
Madam Broh was expected to appear before Justice Ja’neh on Monday, but her appearance was delayed until yesterday.
Two Wednesdays ago, the Supreme Court ordered a halt with immediate effect, to the ongoing demolition of dilapidated and wrongfully located structures by Broh’s Taskforce until a judicial review of its scope of operations could be decided by the court.
Since the Taskforce was set up with the mandate to clean up Monrovia the exercise has been embroiled in controversies mostly owing to the forceful posture the Taskforce leadership has reportedly taken in removing filth associated with dilapidated structures and makeshift market stalls.
The decision to stop Broh’s operation was taken by Justice Ja’neh following a petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed to the High Court by a group under the banner, “Aggrieved Destroyed Properties Owners of Central Monrovia, Bushrod Island, Sinkor, Gardnersville and the New Georgia Community.”
Cllr. Dempster Brown of the Center for the Promotion of Human Rights filed the complaint on behalf of the aggrieved property owners.
Based on the complaint, Justice Ja’neh instructed Madam Broh to stop further demolitions pending the outcome of a conference scheduled for Monday, December 7, but that meeting was held yesterday with the outcome that lifted the stay order.
With the court’s decision yesterday, the Broh Taskforce is expected to be back on the streets today. It has five more days left to complete its mandate.
The Taskforce was constituted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in October with the mandate to clean up the City of Monrovia from November 15 to December 15, 2015. It remains to be seen whether the Taskforce will receive an extension to make up for the suspension of its operations by the Supreme Court.