The Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie yesterday, April 19, evicted illegal occupants of a portion of land belonging to the Paye Suah Family which brought to an end one of the long-standing land disputes in Ganta.
The occupants, the Jabateh and Donso families have been in legal battle with Fred Suah, the Administrator of the ‘Paye Suah Estate over the parcel of land that stretches from the Saclapea Parking downward to the alley before the Pharena Guest House.
The Daily Observer in an exclusive interview with Fred Suah about a year ago said since the case between him and the Donzos, Jabateh, Kromah and others was adjudicated in his favor by the Supreme Court, the occupants have remained defiant to vacate the land.
The Paye Suah Estate is situated in the heart of Ganta, beginning from the NP Filling Station and extending toward the alley before reaching the Pharena Guest House, but the Jabateh and Donso families counter argue that the parcel of land from Saclepea Parking toward the same alley does not belong to Fred Suah as he has been claiming.
After almost 10 years of legal battle beginning at the Circuit Court in Nimba, the Paye Suah Family won the case and the occupants took an appeal to the Supreme Court and again the case went against the occupants, Jabateh, Donso and others.
After the last verdict at the Supreme Court, it ordered the subordinate court (the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie) to implement the eviction order, something the clerk of court at the Circuit Court in Sanniquellie, Mr. Arthur Gaye confirmed on Monday morning.
In March 2019, the Donzo, Jabateh and others occupying the land raised tension when they saw a pickup loaded with officers of the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police that had come to implement the eviction order.
But the chiefs and elders of Ganta under the banner, “Chambers of Elders” headed by Mr. Joseph Kiapee intervened, halting the eviction exercise and asking the court to give them time to resolve the problem peacefully between the opposing parties.
However, the Chambers of Elders’ intervention could not result the problem, leaving the land conflict in limbo and confusion, until Monday, April 21, 2021 when the final eviction order was enforced by a sheriff from the Circuit Court backed by the Joint Security, including armed police and LIS officers believed to have come from the Regional Hub in Bong.
In the 10-page document dated March 18, 2019, from the elders, they said in their findings that the court’s decision in the case involving Fred Suah on the one hand and the Donzo and others on the other hand, would have been different had the matter not been held by default. “We see the court as the final arbiter of justice with the sole purpose of ensuring that peace and tranquility prevail in the society.”
“Against this background and in our opinion, any decision from the court that fails to meet this expectation has the propensities to undermine the court’s integrity and must therefore claim everyone’s attention,” the document has said.
The elders also recommended that the government of Liberia has the responsibility to ensure its citizens throughout the length and breadth of the country live in peace.
They further said, “In the wake of a court’s decision that has failed to bring the desired peace to the Gompa, we recommend that the government set up a Board of Inquiry to ensure that peace prevails in the instant case and prevent future crisis.”
“The government should launch a special investigation into the production and use of fraudulent and faked land documents to avoid the country’s land documentation and record system being seriously undermined,” they added in their report.
The elders’ intervention, however, did not calm the situation, rather it somehow criticized the verdict of the court.
In their concluding statement, they said information on the certified copy of the public land sale deed, Fred Suah presented in the name of his Grandfather Paye Sehkei Suah largely appears inconsistent with information on other deeds obtained during the same period.”
“The Donzos and the others either treated the court with contempt or were negligent in the legal defense of their property,” the elders said.
“The ruling by default from the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie has so far failed the peace and tranquility residents of Gonta City so much desire,” they concluded.
The Chamber of Elders’ intervention was highly expected to bring an end to the dispute between Fred Suah on one hand and the Donzo and others, on the other hand, could not give a clear picture as to who actually owns the parcel of land in question, rather, they said the Donzo and others have lived on the land for over five decades and the public land deed they presented as resilience for their claim is in the name of one Mary Dent, which doesn’t link Mary Dent and Donzo’s claim, in term of the transfer of the title either through purchase or other means.
Mr. Fred Suah challenged the elders’ decision, accusing the chiefs and elders of intimidation and compelling him to drop the case. “The Mandingo people will burnt your house, if you don’t drop the case.”
Now that the eviction has taken place, nobody knows yet the next step or action as both parties had been threatening each other of carrying on bloody violence for this disputed land.