The Supreme Court is yet to order the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) to demolish a building under litigation on the corner of Benson and Center Streets allegedly owned by Dr. Ayele M. Ajavon Cox, administrator of the Emma Dean Cox and John Cox Estate.
The demolition has been pending since 2013, but due to a complaint filed to Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, who was presiding as Justice in Chamber of the Supreme Court, halted the exercise until the 2007 ownership claim was resolved.
Up to the present the matter is still undecided by the Supreme Court, according to Dr. Cox, who said “it has been a long legal battle.”
Justice Ja’neh acted upon a complaint filed by former City Solicitor, Atty. Sam Solomon, who claimed that he obtained a letter to serve as Administrator of the Intestate estate of the Late Dr. Jeremiah Harris, who reportedly owned the building.
As a result, Justice Ja’neh issued a temporary order that prevented the MPW from demolishing the structure until a full investigation was done, despite the ministry’s concern for the safety of the general public.
In the ministry’s demolition plan, reached after conducting an assessment, it said the Cox building “needed to be pulled down as it is beyond repair.” This statement was made in a letter allegedly written by former Acting Minister, Victor B. Smith.
The ministry’s view was accepted by Dr. Cox, Smith said in his letter.
“For the safety of the general public,” Minister Smith pointed out, “the team recommended that occupants be served eviction notices and the building be demolished. Our decision is guided by the zoning regulation of Liberia.”
Before Justice Ja’neh’s mandate, Dr. Cox had filed a petition to a lower court, the Civil Law Court, where she complained, among others, that her late father, David F.M. Dean, acquired by purchase one lot of land on Benson Street, where he constructed the building.
Dr. Cox further alleged that she was in possession of the property until she and her siblings were forced to leave Liberia due to the civil war.
“Unfortunately,” she claimed, “Sam Solomon took advantage of our absence from the country to illegally take possession of the property.”
Dr. Cox said that since then, Solomon has refused to turn over the building and has subleased various sections of it while using other sections as his Justice of the Peace court and living quarters.
“Up to this time no one knows why the Supreme Court has not authorized the ministry to demolish the structure,” said an angry Dr. Cox.
“If there is any legal issue, let them give us advance notice so that we can know what to do next. But to wait until this long is unacceptable, and we are going to do everything possible to reclaim our father’s sweat,” the Administrator of the Cox Estate promised.
Besides the Ministry, Dr. Cox said, the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), in 2013, granted them the authorization for the demolition of the Cox building.
She said the permission was given to the family after they wrote the City inquiring them about the necessary procedures required to demolish the structure in Liberia.
“This was how we got the permission, and we asked Public Works Ministry to do the job for us, but that could not happen due to the High Court’s order, which is still in place,” Dr. Cox indicated.
“I am more than ready to fight this battle with Atty Solomon. And I know whatsoever he is thinking on to do will not materialize,” she said.
However, Atty. Solomon has maintained that he would not allow any demolition to take place on the property.
“This matter is sub-judice and the matter is pending before the Civil Law Court. Any attempt will undermine the court,” the former prosecutor said.