Liberia: Agriculture Minister Entangled in Land Controversy as Civil Law Court A Judge Summons Surveyor

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Monrovia – The sixth judicial circuit, Civil Law Court” A” at the Temple of Justice of Judge Kennedy J. Peabody has summoned Surveyor Thomas W. Nimely of the Liberia Land Authority in the Action of Ejectment case involving Rodney D. Sieh as plaintiff versus Elise Cooper, Jeanie Cooper and Alex Garley defendants, to answer to the contempt of court.

Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi for plaintiff, told court that the court had previously qualified the government surveyor (Nimely), but the chairman of Liberia Land Authority needed the total bill cost of survey, which should have been US$ 457.50 per each party. However, Cllr. Massaquoi noticed that Cllr. Joyce Reeves Woods, client for the defendant did not pay their portion of US$ 457.50 to carry out the survey.

Cllr. Massaquoi further said that he advised his client to pay the grand total of US$915.00, representing survey fees for both parties in order to fast track the process and complete the survey.

The land in question, located in Paynesville, ELWA around the old Police station, was among several acres of land subject to a major Supreme Court decision in 2013.

The saga was triggered by a land crisis between the cooper Family and residents of the ELWA community.

The saga hit boiling point with many fearing at the time that if not handled carefully, could have degenerated into a crisis. The Cooper land saga is just a fragment of wrangling over land among citizens of the country since the end of the war in 2003.

Based on the complaint filed against Cllr. Woods’ defendants – Agriculture Minister Jeanine Cooper and others, Judge Peabody, mandated the clerk of the court indicating the Liberia Land Authority to make the name and qualified served as chair of the investigative survey.

The judge indicated, “This court says, if his bill action removable for his contribution to the defendants, either the bill of course, if defendants bill above pay on behalf defendants, by the comments fast service of bill of course”.

The judge then ordered the clerk of the court to issue out the contempt against the surveyor Thomas W. Nimely to appear on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, by 10:am having being qualified to show cause why he should not  be held in contempt, after being qualified and instructed.”

The case has been further complicated and a decision by the Defendants’ lawyer Cllr. Woods to withdraw from the case at the last minute and in the wake of the looming survey of the property.

Last week, Cllr. Woods sent a communication to the Clerk of the sixth judicial circuit, Civil Law Court “A” indicating a Notice of withdrawal from the case.

The communication reads: “That upon receipt of this our notice of withdrawal you will please spread upon minutes of court that Cllr. Joyce Reeves Woods and Woods and Associates Law Film no longer represent the legal interest of Mr. Elise Cooper as their files have been returned to them and they have been asked to find a lawyer to represent their legal interest.” 

Even more troubling, the defendants have over the past few weeks constructed a three-stores building and fenced the property which has been leased to an Indian businessman while the property is being contested in court.

It can be recalled that in 2013, normal activities in the ELWA Robertsfield Highway Community Tuesday came to a standstill as a result of a protest action staged by some residents of the community.

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