— They seek Pres. Weah’s intervention
Over fifteen thousand people, many of them women and children, living on the property of the ABC Children’s Aid Liberia-Ministry, situated in the Baptist Seminary Community, are at risk of forceful evictions.
The property is situated on 72.76 acres of land that ABC Children’s Aid-Liberia purchased in 2012 from the administrators of Gbangbar’s Town, namely: James Brown, Plakay Garway, and one Rev. Payne, as well as seven other family members. The land is in close proximity to where President George Weah constructed his multi-million dollar condominium complex.
Gbangbar’s Town is along the ELWA/Robertsfield Highway.
The decision to evict the residents comes as a result of the Civil Law Court’s plan to enforce the Supreme Court’s August 5, 2019 Ejection Mandate and subsequently place the property in the possession of ABC Children Aid Executive Director Reverend Matthew T. Sakeuh.
When the Daily Observer visited the community on Monday, September 30, 2019, the entire community was seen in disarray, with some women leaders appealing to Sakeuh to see reason to accept their proposal to hold an immediate discussion.
Willimina C. Zlana, the chair lady, said the eviction is being carried out without adequate prior consultations and notices to the residents.
“We only woke up on the morning of September 13 and saw court officers distributing eviction notices to us, and they asked us to leave the place,” Madam Zlana said.
According to Zlana, the court officers informed residents that Sakeuh is in possession of the property.
“We did not know if there was a case between Sakeuh and the people of Gbangbar Town that we brought the property from. We are appealing to religious leaders, the traditional leaders and our President and good neighbors to help talk with Sakeuh and his lawyer, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, who is now the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, to allow us to hold a negotiation for the property,” the community chairlady pleaded.
“We respect our court’s orders, and we are not going to do anything to challenge the judgment, but what we can say is to appeal to people to talk to the rightful owner of the property, Sakeuh, to seek a peaceful resolution,” Zlana said.
Madam Josephine David, a 23-year-old mother, said she and her children are now facing “terrible, uncertain future.”
“The court officers came here; they told us we should leave from here, and there is no time given to us for their return. There is nowhere else for me and my children to go,” Madam David said. She added that she built her house in 2013 and moved to the community in 2014, without anyone asking her to leave her home; but it later came to her attention that those who sold her the place were not the rightful owners.
“Now court officers are asking us to leave, but where do they expect us to go?” she wondered, adding, “I built my house with resources from selling crushed rock, and losing it would mean something different for me.
“There is no proper information- we don’t have any idea as to the date the owner will come to demolish this place,” said Madam David.
Another resident, Aretha P. Zeah, said the community has over 400 homes, and they were not aware that the land, which they bought from the people of Gbangbar Town, was at the center of litigation.
“We did not receive any notice before the planned eviction exercise; and so, we are appealing to Sakeuh to listen to our plight and make himself available for us to hold discussions and see a way forward because we know now that he is the legitimate owner of the property,” Zeah said.
“We are living with the uncertainty of not knowing when they will come back to evict us,” Madam Zeah said. “We are appealing to Sakeuh, because this eviction will make thousands of people homeless and destitute.”
The lawsuit came about in 2012 when the ABC Children’s Aid-Liberia purchased 72.76 acres of land from the administrators of Gbangbar Town.
The payment for said property was done in the presence of members of the town, after which the administrative letter or Decree of Sale and the Mother Deed were given to ABC Children’s Aid-Liberia.
The lawsuit continues that, after the transaction, the youth of the town, headed by one Emmanuel Togar, began to illegally sell the land.
They took the action when a conflict erupted between Children’s Aid-Liberia Ministry and its affiliated organization, Children’s Aid International, which is based in Iceland and Faroe Islands, in 2012.