-Chief Justice Korkpor observes
Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor says despite the clear and unambiguous provision of law governing activities in the society, criminal conveyance (sale of a single land to more than one person) of land is at an alarming proportion in the country.
Justice Korkpor on Monday, March 9, at the opening of the March term of the Supreme Court of Liberia, said if decisive actions are not taken now, the act may undermine peace and national security.
In his opening address, which was graced by senior government officials including President George Manneh Weah and lawyers, Justice Korkpor observed that from all indications the situation is even more pervasive today, particularly in urban areas. “Under the Liberian law, title to land can only be conveyed by the lawful owner. Liberian law also forbids the selling of a parcel of land to more than one person or entity,” Korkpor emphasized.
Supporting his courts’ action into the resolution of land dispute, Korkpor said that the court has always taken steps to protect the property rights of citizens and had warned trial judges to handle property matters with utmost care and diligence, giving all party litigants every opportunity to appear and defend their property rights.
But, according to Korkpor, the court’s efforts and that of the trial judges to protect property rights are being seriously undermined and rendered futile by the illegal sale and or occupation of land by unscrupulous citizens.
“This act in a number of cases has resulted into violence and even death,” Korkpor reiterated.
Making specific reference to a case that involved the Republic of Liberia versus Roland Kaine, Justice Korkpor said that the case borders on the illegal sale and occupation of private lands in Montserrado County, where several individuals lost their lives.
He said in most instances when the court, especially the Civil Law Court, is ordered by the Supreme Court to give a disputed land to the rightful owners, the party, defendant, and even others who are not parties to the case, most often put up violent resistance in an attempt to prevent the lawful execution of the mandates of the High Court.
“This trend cannot continue if this is allowed unabated and with impunity, the net effect would be to circumvent the law and deny justice and have illegal property claimants prevail against the rightful owners,” Justice Korkpor emphasized.
“No civilized and lawful society can condone such an act,” he added. “We have heard in some quarters that because our society is still fragile from war, it is better to take it easy and not disturb a sleeping lion. This is my view, is not a wise proposition.”