Days into the taking over of her property by Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Mrs. Annie Constance, 90, has vowed to resist any attempt by the Civil Law Court — even-up to her death — to see her hard-earned home being given to the Supreme Court justice.
The property is situated on a 0.54 lot of land, along with houses, on the Russell Avenue, Saye-Town Community, Sinkor, in Monrovia.
Mrs. Constance’s only asset is her home, including the disputed 0.54 lot of land it sits on, which she and her late husband Nyema Constance purchased from Mrs. Rebecca Elliot in the 1950s.
Mrs. Constance, who has been hospitalized on several occasions since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Justice Ja’neh, tearfully explained to journalists that, “This can’t be happening in my very eyes. There got to be a mistake on the part of the court.”
The Supreme Court gave its opinion on October 12, 2017, which judgment mandated then Judge Boima Kontoe to enforce it (opinion) by evicting Mrs. Constance and her children.
Justice Ja’neh did not signature that judgment. It was only the four other justices, including Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who signed it.
Madam Constance got into the predicament after being sued by Justice Ja’neh, claiming that her son Nyema Constance, who died in 1998, sold the property to Ja’neh in 1997.
Even though the Supreme Court had ruled that Mrs. Constance did not have the opportunity to defend herself in the matter at the Civil Law Court on grounds that her lawyer, Lawrence Yeakulah, had abandoned the matter, they ruled in favor of Ja’neh.
According to Mrs. Constance, the alleged transaction between her late son Nyema Constance Jr. was done in her absence and without her knowledge.
“By 1997, I was in Cote d’ Ivoire when Justice Ja’neh claimed to have purchased the property from my son,” the ailing woman claimed.
Madam Constance said she returned to Liberia in that same year, after she learnt that her son was seriously ill.
Unfortunately, her son died the following year, 1998.
“How in this world will a single individual sell a property belonging to his many siblings, including me, without any of them knowing about it,” Constance wondered.
After the death of her son, it was then she received a letter on December 28, 2009, from Cllr. Cooper Kruah, lawyer of Justice Ja’neh, about the transaction between her son and Ja’neh, which copy is with the Daily Observer.
In that communication, Cllr. Kruah, who is now Minister of Post and Telecommunications, said: “We have been retained by Mr. Jusufu D. Fofana, the Attorney-In-Fact for the property in which you reside, to give you a 30 day notice to vacate for renovation. Mr. Fofana’s principal, Cllr. Kabineh M. Ja’neh purchased this property from J. Nyema Constance, Jr. in the year 1997, with the approval of the Probate Court for Montserrado County.”
The letter further read, “In view of the above, it is our hope that you will strictly adhere to the dictates of this communication and govern yourself accordingly.”
The letter continued, “In the event you fail and neglect to vacate within the period specified herein, we shall be compelled to proceed against you legally to have you ousted from the subject property.”
It was the alleged failure of Madam Constance to vacate the property that caused Justice Ja’neh’s lawyer, Kruah, to decide to take the matter before the Civil Law Court.
Also, a document from the Monthly and Probate Court for Montserrado County, which copy is also in the possession of the Observer, partly said: “Nyema Constance Sr. was issued a letter of administration by Jehu Striker, then judge of the Monthly and Probate Court of Montserrado County, in the 1960s.”
Later, the same court in 1996 and under John Greaves issued a letter of administration to Nyema Constance Jr., with a mandate to sell and dispose of any property of the Intestate Estate of his late father J. Nyema Constance Sr., including the disputed 0.54 lot of land.
The Supreme Court ruled, dated October 24, 2017, a copy of which is also with the Daily Observer, claimed that when the case was called for hearing, only Cllr. Kruah was in attendance, while Madam Constance’s lawyer, Lawrence Yeakula, was nowhere around.
Cllr. Yeakulah had earlier in April 2013 rejected Judge Kontoe’s ruling in favor of Ja’neh that he (Cllr. Yeakula) did not attend the trial.
In October 2013, almost six months later, Cllr. Kruah obtained a clerk’s certificate that after the filing of the exception, Yeakulah had taken no further step to perfect the appeal.
Later, on December 2, 2013, Kruah filed an appeal before the Supreme Court to dismiss Yeakula’s pleads, which the court ruled in October 2017, in consonance with the law.
“The motion to dismiss the appeal is hereby granted, and Yeakula’s appeal is dismissed,” the justices ruled, adding, “the clerk of court is ordered to send a mandate to the Civil Law Court, mandating the judge presiding there to resume jurisdiction over this case and give effect to this judgment.”
During the hearing Yeakula, the Supreme Court said, made a submission to the court, requesting for continuance (postponement) for a period of a month, to enable the parties amicably resolve the matter between them without further litigation.
By that time, the Supreme Court said, Cllr. Kruah interposed no objection.
“The court said if the parties failed to file a voluntary withdrawal within that one month period the court will proceed with the case and make a determination therein,” the justices quoted the Civil Law Court decision.
The records however not only showed the absence of any evidence of a resolution of that matter, but also that no notice of voluntary withdrawal had been filed, notifying the court that the matter had been amicably settled.