Who Owns EJ Roye Building? The People

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    The Six Judicial Circuit Court seated in Monrovia has dismissed a petition filed by some concerned members and officials of the ancient True Whig Party (TWP), against the Government of Liberia’s decision to take ownership of the Edward J. Roye Building on Ashmun Street.
    Judge J. Biomah Kontoe handling down his ruling on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 said his court lacks jurisdiction to decide the constitutional issues raised in the TWP’s officials’ petition for declarative judgment.
    “Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, this court is in full agreement with both the movant and the Respondent that the whole arguments surrounds the interpretation of Article 97 and the constitutional provisions over which the court has no jurisdiction, the amended motion to dismiss should be and same is hereby granted and Respondent’s petition for declaratory judgment is hereby dismissed,” the judge ruled.
    Prior to the Judge’s ruling, the Government of Liberia has argued that E. J Roye Building over which the petitioner seeks to have its right declared was confiscated by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) Government under PRC Decree # 11 in 1980 following the coup d’etat which overthrew the constituted government of President William R. Tolbert.
    By virtue of this confiscation, the True Whig Party was stripped of the building and title thereto immediately vested in the Republic of Liberia as a matter of Law, the state argued.
    The Government stated that Article 97 of the 1986 Constitution expressively legitimized Decrees promulgated by the PRC and mandated that no executive, legislative, judicial or administrative actions taken by the People’s Redemption Council or any persons whether military or civilians in the name of that council pursuant to any of its decrees shall be questioned in any proceedings.
    But in their petition to the Six Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice, the TWP partisans including Reginald B. Goodridge, Chairman, Concerned True Whig Party Partisans, Preston Doe Knuckles, Executive member of the TWP, prayed the Civil Law Court to grant the petition and declare Petitioners rights as legitimate owners of the E.J. Roye Building; enjoin any further actions on the part of the Respondents and restrain, prohibit them from illegally entering upon, constructing thereon a structure or any form of renovation.
    The concerned TWP partisans also prayed the court to restrain government from passing any order, making any declaration pursuant to the intent and purpose and ensure and guarantee unto the Petitioners their property rights as guaranteed in the 1986 Constitution and declare null and void the shadowy use of PRC Decree basis for illegally taking away the party’s property.
    Ruling means government’s ownership of the property is valid unless otherwise interpreted by the Supreme Court of Liberia.
    Writes P. Nas Mulbah