Liberia: Eric Failor Nagbe, Jesse Payne Sued for US$5M in Damages For ‘Illegally’ Demolishing Former Ecobank, Several Other Buildings


Monrovia –  FrontPage Africa has confirmed that The Estate of the late Jacob J Barnes, Sr., represented by its Administrator, Jacob Jasper Barnes, III, has sued Eric Failor Nagbe, Sr. and Jesse Payne for the illegal demolition of several real properties previously located on 4th and 5th Streets in Sinkor.

The family’s legal team filed an Action of Damages for Wrong on Thursday, September 30th, 2021, against Eric Failor Nagbe, Sr. and Jessie S. Payne, both of the city of Monrovia, in the total amount of at least US$7,750.000 (Seven million- seven hundred and fifty thousand United States Dollars).

The Barnes Family is seeking a minimum of US$5,000,000 (five million United States Dollars) in general damages for pain and mental anguish experienced as a result of the illegal demolition its properties, a total of US$1,750,000.00 (One million-seven hundred and fifty thousand United States Dollars) for replacement cost of the damaged properties, and an additional US$1,000,000.00 (One million United States Dollars) as punitive damages. The family also seeks $63,000.00 (Sixty three thousand United States Dollars) per annum, representing income the family would have earned if not for the destruction of its properties by Eric Failor Nagbe, Sr. and Jesse Payne.

According to court documents obtained by FPA, the Barnes Family claims to have had ownership of the properties in question for over eighty (80) years. The late Jacob Barnes, Sr. bought one lot out of the three lots of land (on which the three-story building was constructed) on April 3, 1940 from Angela Dennis-Brown and the remaining two lots were purchased on April 4, 1940 from Gbeoh Togba. The Barnes family has continued to own these properties since then and paid taxes to the Government of Liberia as required by law. The three-story building recently demolished was constructed in early 1960’s and since then has been leased from the family by several entities over the past years. The building previously hosted the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Ministry of Youths and Sports (formerly the Commission on Youth & Sports), the International School, The Salvation Army (Len Millar Schools), more recently, Ecobank – Sinkor Branch (thru Jeety Trading Corporations).

According to community members that were present during the day of demolition, the demolition was carried out by Eric Filor Nagbe, Sr. and Jesse Payne under the instruction of Associate Justice, His Honor Joseph N. Nagbe. According to a source that spoke with FPA with request to remain anonymous, the operation was carried out based on an ambiguous “Writ of Possession” alongside “Bill of Information” dated August 30, 2021 and signed by Ellen Hall-Kamara, Clerk of Court (Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law) that was served by court sheriffs on Jeety Trading Corporation (who has been leasing the three-story building since 2005) on Saturday, September 4, 2021.

This was the first contact the Barnes Family or Jeety Trading Corporation ever had with the Court pertaining to this matter. The source narrated that on the same day Mr. Eric Filor Nagbe, Sr. assembled a group of court officers and heavily armed officers of the Liberia National Police (including the Director of Police, Col. Patrick Sudue) and vigilantes to facilitate the “criminal demolition” and occupation of the properties located on 4th and 5th Streets in Sinkor, Monrovia, Liberia.

After several hours of interventions by community dwellers and leaders that are cognizant of the ownership of the property in question, the demolition was suspended on Saturday. A resident of the community in person of “DJ Rogers” in a video that made rounds on social media claimed that the property was being acquired by President George Weah for his wife Clar Weah. This information could not be verified.

On Monday, September 4, 2021, Jeety Trading Corporation represented by Cllr. J. Johnny Momoh and Cllr. Bimba Lasanah, in consultation with the Barnes Estate immediately filed a Writ of Prohibition with the Supreme Court of Liberia, in an effort to prevent the illegal possession of the family estate without due process.

Despite the family’s trust in the legal process, Associate Justice Nagbe, who at the time was the Justice in Chambers, sitting in for Associate Justice Yusif D. Kaba, failed to act on said writ. Associate Justice Nagbe deliberately neglected the writ of prohibition, thus allowing Eric Filor Nagbe, Sr., who is believed to be his biological nephew, to mobilize, regroup and carry out the illegal demolition and occupation of the family’s property on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Attempts to contact Eric Failor Nagbe or Jesse Smith have been unsuccessful.

When FPA attempted to contact the Administrator of the Barnes Estate, Jacob J. Barnes, III, he declined on ground that the matter is already before the Civil Law Court. However, he replied via text message that “at no point in time the Barnes Estate represented by its Administrator or the Jeety Trading Corporation (Lessee of the Estate) has ever been part of any litigation whatsoever.

In fact, the “Writ of Possession” or “Bill of Information” dated August 30, 2021 did not list the Barnes family nor Jeety Trading Corporation as parties (neither Defendants nor Plaintiffs) to the case.”