Ganta Land Dispute Under Spotlight Again

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Joseph S. Kiepeeh, chairman, Ganta Chamber of Elders

— Claimant Fred Suah cries for justice

One of Ganta’s long-running land disputes has received another setback after the chiefs and elders of the district reportedly failed to bring the disputing parties together to find a peaceful solution as the claimant in the case, Fred Suah, cries for justice.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, Suah said that since the Supreme Court adjudicated the case between he and the Donzo, Jabateh, and the Kromahs, which ruling was in his favor, the Court is yet evict those who occupy his land.

Mr. Suah is an administrator of the Paye Suah Estate, which is situated in the heart of Ganta and has been in court with some families of Jabateh, Donzo, and other families for about nine years for an acre of land, which form part of the Paye Suah Estate.

He said the long-running court battle ended in his favor at the Supreme Court, where the Court ordered the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie to implement the eviction order.

Suah said that the Court is yet to implement the order, and that the illegal occupants continue going about boasting of being the legitimate owners of the land in question and have also refused to vacate the land, thus making some threatening remarks, “and or insulting me.”

“I spent about US$78,000 to run after the case, but I am yet to get proper redress from the implementation of the eviction order,” he said. “I have been after this case for years and the verdict was passed in my favor, but I am finding it hard to get my parcel of land,” Mr. Suah told the Observer.

The disputed parcel of land is located commencing from the Sacleapea Parking in Ganta, extending towards an alley before the Pharena Guest House in the center of town.

The Eighth Judicial Circuit Clerk Arthur Gaye, confirmed the Supreme Court’s verdict in favor of Fred Suah, but said the court was waiting for an order from the Circuit Court Judge, Cllr Roland F. Dahn, to enforce the order.

In March this year, the Donzo, Jabateh and those occupying the land raised tension after a pickup loaded with officers of the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police tried to enforce the Court eviction order.

The occupants resisted and went on the rampage, with words of threats and insults, which created fears in the city.

But the chiefs and elders in Ganta, under the banner the Chamber of Elders, headed by Joseph Kiepeeh, intervened by halting the eviction exercise and asking the Court to give them time to peacefully resolve the impasse among the disputed parties.

Up to date, it appears as though the intervention by the Ganta “Chamber of Elders” has failed in its attempt to resolve the dispute, thereby leaving the land limbo characterized by intermittent rounds of confusion, something that has built up tension, with the disputants taking to radio phone-in programs and social media.

Earlier in the 10-page document, the elders said that the Court’s decision in the case subject of March 18, 2019 incident involving Fred Suah on the one hand, and 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 the peace and tranquility prevail,” the elders said.

“Against this background and in our opinion, any decision from the Court that fails to meet this expectation has the propensity to undermine the Court’s integrity, and must therefore claim everyone’s attention,” the document from the body of elders has said.

The elders then recommended that the Government has the sole responsibility to ensure its citizens throughout the length and breadth of this country live in peace.

They further added, “In the wake of a court’s decision that has failed to bring the desired peace to Gompa City, we recommend that the government set up a board of inquiry to ensure that peace prevail in the instance 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 does not anyway calm the situation by bringing the disputing parties together for a settlement, rather it somehow criticizes the verdict from the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In their concluding statement, the elders 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 their 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 which residents of Ganta City so much desire,” the elders concluded.

The Chamber of Elders’ intervention was highly expected to bring an end to dispute between Fred Suah on one hand, and the Donzo and parties on other. However, they could not clearly give the picture of 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 a resilience for their claim is in the name of one Mary Dent, which does not link Mary Dent and Donzo’s claim in terms of transfer of the title either through purchase or other means.

However, Mr. Suah has challenged the authenticity of the document, noting that the chiefs and elders have always been threatening and intimidating him to abandon  the case, saying, “the Mandingo people will burn your house, if you don’t drop the case.”

He said the Public land deed document presented to the chiefs was confirmed by the authorities at the Archives. Center for National Document and Records Agency (CNDRA) and the letter of confirmation was given to him on February 8, 2018.

Fred said that all he wants is for the occupants to allow the resurvey of the land in question, before any negotiation as to whether he would accept “out of court settlement or not.”

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