The dreaded plan by the Ministry of Defense to evict over one thousand illegal occupants from the 72nd Camp Ramrod Barracks in Paynesville has been stopped by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The eviction of the squatters, which was to commence on Monday, May 1, was intended to reclaim the 72nd barracks, owned by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), to make way for some of the increasing number of soldiers and their families who have long outgrown the Edward B. Kesselly Barracks on the ELWA/Roberts International Airport highway.
The Acting Defense Minister Joseph F. Johnson announced the President’s decision to suspend the intended eviction action yesterday when he appeared before the full plenary of the House of Representatives, who summoned him to explain the MOD’s plans to evict squatters from Camp Ramrod.
The Acting Minister informed Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay and Members of the House of Representatives that with the order from the President, who is also the Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the AFL, to halt the removal, “there will not be any eviction as planned by the AFL.” He noted, however, that the DOD has learned that some of the squatters are already departing Camp Ramrod.
Acting Minister Johnson did not give the reason behind the President’s decision. Chapter VI, Article 50 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution says the Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and C-I-C of the AFL.
He told the lawmakers that the planned removal of squatters from the 95 units at Camp Ramrod was intended to boost the morale of the soldiers because their families have increased in size with extended families.
Minister Johnson further explained that the Edward B. Kesselly Barracks cannot properly contain the over 2,000 soldiers and their families residing there.
The Defense Ministry was summoned before the House owing to a letter from Montserrado County District #5 Representative Thomas P. Fallah.
In his letter, Rep. Fallah said that although Camp Ramrod is owned by the AFL, he was nonetheless appealing along with the squatters for the eviction deadline to be extended to January 2018.
“The decision is not timely when our nation is preparing for the General and Presidential Elections in October…,” Rep. Fallah said. “It will affect children who are currently in public schools in the barracks, among others.”
He urged that, “in the interest of peace and harmony of our state as we prepare for our General and Presidential Elections on October 10, I would appreciate as well the timely intervention of this body in this matter for a peaceful settlement.”
A motion mandating the House’s leadership to thank the President for her intervention was carried by 33 lawmakers voting in favor of it.