‘PRC Decree #11 Gives Gov’t Ownership of E.J. Roye Building’

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Controversial E.J. Roye Building

SG Blamo argues

Solicitor General (SG) Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo, on Wednesday, told Civil Law Court ‘B’ that the ownership and possessory rights of the controversial E.J. Roye Building were invested unto the government by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC)-military junta decree#11.

Cllr. Blamo also said that constitutional legitimacy of Article 97 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia supported her argument.

The SG’s argument resulted from a complaint filed before the court by lawyers representing the interest of some concerned partisan of the TWP including its chairman, Reginald Goodridge, asking it (court) for a “Declaratory judgment” in their favor.

After hearing both parties’ argument, Judge Bioma Kontoe reserved the court ruling for Tuesday, September 5.

Until the 1980 coup that toppled the government of President William R. Tolbert, the E.J. Roye Building was the headquarters of the erstwhile grand old True Wing Party (TWP), then ruling party.

The Tolbert government was overthrown by the Military Junta headed by President Samuel Doe.

However, in her argument, Cllr, Blamo said, the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter related to the E.J. Roye building. She argued that Article 97 prevents it from making any determination on some major action taken against institutions and individuals by the PRC

The article provides that, “No executive, legislative, judicial or administrative action taken by the PRC or by any persons, whether military or civilian in the name of that Council pursuant to any of its decrees shall be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever; and accordingly, it shall not be lawful for any court or other tribunal to make any order or grant any remedy or relief in respect or any such act.”

Part (B) of that article also states: “No court or other tribunal shall entertain any action whatsoever instituted against the Government of Liberia, whether before or after the coming into force of this Constitution or against any person or persons who assisted in any manner whatsoever in bringing about the change of government on the April 12, 1980, in respect of any act or commission relating to or consequent upon.”

Solicitor General Betty Lamin Blamo

“Under the TWP government civil servant including my parents’ salary was cut and contributed toward the construction of the E.J. Roye building,” the SG contended, adding, “Everybody’s parents paid for the property, therefore, it is for the government and not for any individual or institution to claim legitimate ownership.”

Besides, Cllr. Blamo argued, PRC’s decree #11 that was enacted into law and has yet to be repealed that, no court, even the Supreme Court, can make any determination about its legitimate ownership.

Justice Minister Cllr. Frederick Cherue, supporting his colleague’s argument, said, before the 1980 coup, he served as chairman of the TWP.

“From 1978 t0 79 I was the chairman of the TWP and I know that the E.J. Roye Building does not belong to the party, it is for the people and the government,” Cllr. Cherue.

“I do not know how the TWP managed to take over the building?” the Justice Minister wondered.

According to Cherue, when the coup was staged, Liberians around headed to the street in support of the military junta.

“Decree #11 was used by the junta to confiscate properties belonging to former public officials including President Tolbert,” the justice minister argued.

He claimed that those properties that were owned by the officials were later returned to them by the junta.

“The junta’s decision was in the interest of reconciliation and it was done in consultation with the international community and national institutions,” Cherue argued, adding, “but, the E.J. Roye building was never turned over to the TWP, because it was the property of the government.”

In counter argument, Goodridge’s lawyer, Sayma Syrenius Cephas agreed with his colleagues that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case, but suggested that since the issue was based on constitutionality, it should be handled by the Supreme Court.

Cllr. Cephaus also argued that the building was allegedly confiscated from the party by the junta in 1980; and not from a third party, referring to the government.

“Our ownership rights over the E.J. Roye Building is a public knowledge and has never been in dispute, until two years ago when the government purportedly enforced a PRC degree #11 of April 12, 1980,” Goodridge’s lead lawyer argued.

Cephaus further argued alleged that the government practically owned the building, although, they are taking the decision without any proof of a title deed.

“Government has shown no evidence that the property was confiscated, and that it belongs to her by proof of a title deed,” Goodridge’s lawyer argued.

He continued, “Government cannot show evidence to the extent of an eminent domain or condemnation proceedings; instead, they are using their various connections and powers to forcibly seize our property.” He added, “They have not shown any inconvertible document to prove that the building is confiscated and is now owned by the government.”

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

27 COMMENTS

  1. The E.J. Roye Building belongs to the Government of Liberia. It was built and constructed by Liberian Taxpayers’ money.It does not belong to TWP. This party is responsible for all the problems in Liberia today. The Standard Bearer of this dead party deliberately denied the formation of other parties. Liberia would have been better than today if there were multiparty systems instituted or in place. President Tubman haunted down all opposition parties members. His twenty seven (27) years as president did nothing good for us. He had no interest in educating Liberians especially the native people. Instead of building roads, President bought a yacht or ship to travel on sea. His Open Door Policy was the worst. It only benefited foreigners from other countries who were better trained than Liberians. Thank God for 1980 military coup. When everything else fails us, God will never fail us. 1980 revolution which brought army to power was God’s way of “Divine Intervention”. He brought in an unknown leader to lead us. I do not blame President Doe for not being educated. Tubman failed to educate men and women of the Liberian Army. Some members of the Liberian Army were used “watchman” to provide security protection for their families and properties.

    • Elijah, it was a government policy to keep the majority illiterate in order to exploit them continuously. (Buell, 1947). The early leaders of Liberia were afraid to educate the vast majority for fear of losing power to them. They encouraged foreigners to do business in Liberia for the same fear. President Tubman was asked about this and he said: “Liberians don’t know how to do business.” (Liebenow, 1967). Did Tubman educate and empower those Liberians? Whatever was sowed is bearing fruits today. You see how challenging it is to even vote on issues if the majority of the people don’t know what the burning issues are? People vote for rice, on personalities, even more than ethnicity. That’s what happens to a society that didn’t prioritize education as one its cornerstones. It’s not late to change things around though. A serious, patriotic leader can change things around in about a decade. See Singapore, Botswana, Rwanda, Ghana, etc. God bless LIB.

  2. Nonsense, this building is the sole property of the TWP. Those who worked in the Government under the TWP were all members of the TWP, therefore , taxes were paid to build this building. We will not sit still and see this government , or any government steal this building. It may be the TWP today, another party tomorrow. TWP WILL RISE AGAIN.DEEDS NOT WORDS, lets compare.

    • Break it down. This eyesore and run down ruin is a legacy of a failed and soiled and rotten era. Break it down. If they cannot fix it , break it down. They oppressed us and took our taxes to build this so we want it down. TWP will NEVER come back. Break it down. All those quasi elites must now work for their money. let it come down

  3. First: The E.J. Roye Bldg is for the TWP. You take and rehabilitate it and then you have the owners and the government fighting for ownership just like all the properties in LIB that have multiple ownerships.
    Second: At least during the reign of the TWP, we had a “trickle down” effect where the poor received something – however little. But now with the country people in power, everything has been locked down. A country person seeking position has nothiing, put him in power for six months and all of a sudden, he is a millionaire.

    • In your dreams. Those TWP stole, impregnated our young girls and had a caste system in our country. No one group is any good so don’t start writing nonsense about our former slave masters because they were slave masters. You sound like someone who would say t”they rape me but at least they give me $5.00. So stupid.

  4. The PRC military junta, which I worked for as Director of NSA from September 1980 to 1986, didn’t conduct investigations regarding the sources for the funding of the TWP building (before and during my hiring) to warrant its continuous seizure. This would suggest that there is no proof that the building was constructed with stolen funds.

    Isn’t it, therefore, ironical that a democratic government, led by a president who spent nearly six years trying to overthrow the PRC leadership because supposedly it was illegitimate, is exploiting a PRC decree to seize private property. Our hypocricy would make a healthy foreigner feel nauseous.

    For what it is worth, every property Oliver Cromwell, the English Parliamentarian and military ruler who stoked the beheading of King Charles 1, seized was returned to their rightful owners after the restoration of the monarchy to power. Please, return the building to the TWP, it is theirs until proven otherwise. Liberia is already divided as it is; for heaven’s sake, why are we wholly hooked on tension and crises?

    • Moses,as you mentioned that the PRC didn’t investigate to obtain facts that EJ Roye Building was built by stolen fund, however,it left with the plaintiff to debunk the aforementioned because it is one of the government’s arguments​ in court by producing hard evidences such the seller name of the land and the monetary value,the source (s) of funding to construct the building and the name of the company hired/ contracted.
      Of the TWP wining the suit,the aforesaid are implements have to be denoted by her in court.If not the government can advance her argument that TWP exhibiting a piece of deed and failed to name other pieces of information to back her claimed.
      Legally saying the plaintiff has the burden of proving his/her case by a preponderance of the case.

  5. Cephas, if your “they cannot show any document to prove confiscation” is the argument upon which you depend to win this case, you bet you have lost the case. Gootbridge, as for you you should be ashamed of yourself.

  6. Since the building was erected, can the owners demonstrate to government that they have been paying taxes throughout. Otherwise government stay has a case slam them with tax evasion…Let them pay or auction the property to collect the outstanding tax.

  7. No taxes have been paid. The government has the right to seize the building. TWP oppressed the Liberian people and my parents salaries were cut for the TWP. That is our building. and prime property. Tear it down and build a memorial or a ministry. Enough of these old cranky people sitting abroad talking nonsense or not having achieve anything abroad now coming home looking for money. Both the E J Roy and the former Ministry of Education should be brought down.

  8. I believe government have the right to oversee any property in Liberia that doesn’t have any legitimate owner of the land . She also heve the same rights to demolish buildings that put threat to the well being of our people. If the TWP don’t have anything to prove to the Liberian people, please let government renovate buildings and bring it up to standard we need new Liberia.

  9. Mr. Moses, the context is different from that of England’s where the properties returned were not acquired from tax payers’ or government’s cash.

    Both written and unwritten evidences the EJ ROYE BUILDING IS NOT A PRIVATE PROPERTY SINCE IT WAS SCQUIRED VIA PUBLIC FUNDING.

    This matter has absolutely nothing to do with DEMOCRATIC or military government nor has it to do with exploiting a decree.

    It has to do with the fact that once a property was acquired by and through public funding, it can never be a private property but rather indeed a PUBLIC PROPERTY.

  10. Kenneth Best, your headline and lead sentence are DISTORTIONS. WHY NOT THE CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS, AND CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF ARTICLE 97 OF THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION?

    OR ADDITIONAL ARGUMENTS FROM THE GOVERNMENT THAT:

    THE PROPERTY HAD NEVER BEEN A PRIVATE PROPERTY BUT A PUBLIC PROPERTY AS EVIDENCED BY THE VERY PROPERTY BEEN ACQUIRED BY AND THROUGH PUBLIC FUNDING!!

  11. The E.J.Roye building was never confiscated. The E.J.Roye building was simply taken into the control of THE ACTUAL OWNER – THE LIBERIAN GOVERNMENT. An owner does not confiscate his or her own property; but can take ownership and control of said property as was the case with the sovereign State of Liberia and its property – the E.J. ROYE BUILDING!!

    According to the principles of law viz property or the principle of possession, ownership should be that of the first possessor of unpossessed property. And the Liberian State been the first and actual possessor of this property is legally and legitimately the rightful owner of this property! E. Jonathan and team etc., as a commenter quipped, your argument about confiscation documentation is baseless, for inter alia, the owner of a property does not confiscate his or her own property, but rather take ownership!

    The MASONIC TEMPLES were never taken into the control of government because the Liberian Government never had ownership to any of those TEMPLES, for they were never acquired or built from public or taxpayers’ earnings as was the case with the E.J.Roye building which is and had all along been and remains a property of the Republic of Liberia.

  12. With a multi-party system in place in Liberia, the TWP cannot, with clear eyes, come out to say it owns the building. The building is for the government of Liberia. Claiming sole possession is like putting up a confederate flag, to me.
    Yor try go and build yor own place and stop reminding people of the bad old political days!

    C’mon now.

  13. Don’t mind Goodridge, simply because the building is named in memory of E.J.Roye the founder of the True Whig Party, the building automatically belongs to the TRUE Whig Party.

    So according to Goodridge, since the capital city of Liberia is named in honour and memory of James Monroe one of the presidents of the USA, America owns Monrovia. Now one can reason how justified it was or it is for the removal of names of True Whig Party partisans from several institutions.

    For of course, a man like Goodridge could claim ownership of Bannersville Estate and it’s high school, since they were named in memory of his Goodridge’s father…E.Jonathan Goodridge Sr. ..The then Minister of Internal Affairs during the Tolbert Administration. And the same could happen with the Gardnersville Estate then called the Stevens A. Tolbert Estate with the Tolberts claiming ownership.

  14. Mr. Goodridge, please bring forth documentation to prove that the money used to construct EJ Roye building was not stolen from the taxpayers of Liberia. We have forgotten how your people sit in the building and planned how to steal government money and you continue to open cans of worms. If you continue pushing for that building, you will be arrested to produce the source of the money used to build EJ Roye building. Do you know our eyes are now opened and gone are the days TWP really existed? You better leave the government property before you get into a big mess.

  15. Perhaps, if there is no proof that the funds used to construct the building were stolen, government should buy it below the market price. But what never sat well with an argument based solely on the PRC decree is the idea of governments, elected or unelected, outside the authority of the courts, and beyond the realm of eminent domain, grabbing private real estate of any kind.

    The question then becomes, where would such arbitrary seizures end and are we ready for that precedent in our nascent democracy? Mind you, folks, it isn’t the “bad governance” of TWP on trial here, because that would be the irony of all ironies. And this shouldn’t be about Goodridge or any individual for that matter.

  16. Were the EJS Roye building property of the Liberian government, it wouldn’t have been seized by the PRC regime. So, if there is no evidence that the funds used to construct the building were stolen, this administration should buy it below current market price.
    But what never sat well with an argument based solely on the PRC decree is the idea of governments, elected or unelected, outside the purview of the courts, and beyond the realm of eminent domain grabbing real estate of any kind.

    The question then becomes, where would such arbitrary seizures end, and are we ready for that precedent in our nascent, already shaky, democracy? Mind you, it isn’t the bad governance of TWP administrations on trial here, because that would be the irony of ironies; and this shouldn’t be about Goodridge or any individual, for that matter.

    By the way, I was neither a member of the TWP nor did I serve in any TWP government. However, in the early 1970’s, attempts at such politically – motivated property confiscations almost caused confusion in Sierra Leone. May be, we’re also forgetting that EJ Roye wasn’t the only building with ties to the leadership of the ancient regime (TWP) seized by the PRC. Tellingly, the rightful owners got their properties back, and I’m done here.

  17. Very surprised that a September 2017 article is making headlines in 2020. Nothing strange, but rather surprised.
    I commend Guva Sahn. He wrote what I would have said.

    As always, peace.

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