Liberia: Popota Town Land Dispute Deepens As Two Groups Claim Ownership
Monrovia – Several residents of Popota Town in Fuamah District Bong County have expressed fear of losing their land to Betty Cooper Kabah who they say is claiming a larger part of the land.
Popota Town is located in Bong County, Fuamah District surrounded by villages and other towns and is currently situated on an appropriately 1500 acres of land – most of which is farm land.
The town which has a population of five hundred people largely relies on farming as their major source of livelihood.
Two senior elders of the Town, Yah Momah and Ma Bendu Datee both believed to be in their eighties and hundreds respectively claimed that they are the original owners of the land.
“When we came here many years ago, this town was a complete forest, no roads and just absolutely nothing but due to our strength, we later transformed it to a living place that we now have,” they stated.
“We are surprised that people or someone is claiming a land or town that we suffered for,” the two elders pointed out.
Speaking to a team of reporters on the site of the disputed land in Popota Town, they explained that their latest fear came as a result of the most recent ordered resurvey of the land by Betty Cooper Kabah daughter of the late Sam Cooper.
“We are afraid that we might lose our inherited and ancestral land due to the resurvey and we do not have anywhere to go,” they added.
At the same time, the embattled villagers also threatened that they will not leave the land despite whatsoever and especially when they believe that they are the real owners of the land.
“We will resist and evict,” said one of the youths in an angry mood.
It can be recalled that the disputed land crisis resurfaced in late 2020 when Mrs. Betty Cooper Kabah born on September 17, 1967, ordered a resurvey of the land because according to her the land has been allegedly encroached upon by some of the villagers something the Town people termed as untrue.
Betty, when contacted, stated that unlike before the farmland which was 450 acres has now been reduced to 285 acres due to an alleged encroachment.
She told reporters that the resurvey was not meant to take away the land from the Town people rather set the boundaries and record straight and to avoid future embarrassment for their children’s children.
“I have not come to take away the people’s property but anyone who plans on the land, I will deduct it,” she maintained adding that those who are spreading such misleading information should desist from it.
Justifying her argument further madam Kabah displayed a land deed for the disputed land dated 2010 though the town in question, according to senior elders is approximately over a hundred years.
According to the townspeople, though they do not have a legal paper for the disputed land, they are the original owners despite what they considered as a fake deed from Betty Cooper Kabah in order to have them intimidated but they are resolved to have the land as theirs.
Betty Cooper Kabah is one of the daughters of Sam Cooper, an alleged stranger and a businessman who according to reports came to do steel business in the town, got stranded, and was assisted by the town people to reside in the area for some time.
Sam Cooper later joined the Town family people after falling in love with one of their daughters in the person of Nyequelleh which in the Kpelle vernacular means: White Fish.
He was later given land in the upper part of the Town and settled in and eventually established his own family.
But what is still unclear is whether he later purchased additional land from the Town people mainly from some of the elders who are not alive apart from the previous one which was given to him as a gift for taking their daughter.
However, Betty also claimed that a land deed was given to her by her late father, something the Popota people still considered as false and fake though she currently has the land deed in her possession.
The Popota Town disputed land crisis which started in 2008 is still far from been over despite local authorities interventions as the Town people are said to be living in fear of anytime eviction but also maintained that they will not leave the land that was originally given to them by their forefathers while Madam Betty Cooper Kabah claimed that she has no plan of taking away anyone’s property but will deduct the land from people who have already planted on it.
Meanwhile, the ongoing disputed land case is also before the Land Authority including local authorities in the County but a remedy to have it finalized completely is still far from over as the two parties up till press time are claiming ancestors, Inheritance, and legal ownerships, respectively.