Liberia: Over 30 Families made Homeless After Court Eviction in Paynesville City

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PAYNESVILLE – Over 30 families of the Praise Community in Paynesville City were made homeless after Civil Law Court B at the Temple of Justice ordered an eviction of six apartments on a tract of land.

Report by JaheimT Tumu, [email protected]

The demolition was carried on Friday November 30 following a complaint was filed by a lady identified as Achue Prempeh, who is claiming title of the land. 

The eviction was taking place while most of Liberia’s lawyers were away in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County attending the Bar Association convention. This made it difficult for the evicted families to seek any legal intervention. 

The dispute between Prempeh and the owner of the homes that were demolished  started in 2017, according to some community members.

Layette Okai, the community chairman, said that although it was a court order that led to the eviction of the families, it appeared illegal to him because the land in question is an alley that has been occupied by the other party for 17 years.

Mr. Okai said Madam Prempeh decided to file in her complaint to the court after the community frowned on her decision to dig a septic tank near a well that the community relies on for drinking and cooking. 

He expressed disappointed in the court’s action which led to the dimolation of the homes without a conduct of a resurvey of the area. He alleged that the eviction notice was only served on the same day of the demolition. 

“The problem I have is the court’s mandate to break someone’s house on the alley that is not owned by this sister,” said the community leader.

“The first thing that the court could have carried on is to resurvey to show the dimension of the different properties before giving order to breakdown the houses. See how many persons are homeless. She knows and I know that it is an alley that she broke the house on. In the first place it is criminal in nature.”

The community chairman, however, suggested that in order for a court to make a ruling in a land dispute the Ministry of Land and Mines could have assisted with a survey that would identify the different dimensions of the properties involved.

“When someone claims a piece of property that’s why we have the Land and Mines Ministry. Go through the land and Mines Ministry, get surveyor, know the different dimensions from which the person has encroached and based upon the encroachment you can clear out the encroachment from on the person’s property,” Mr. Okai said.

Verna K Peatan, a mother of two children who is one of the evicted tents, expressed frustration, telling FrontPageAfrica that they have been made displaced and have no place to sleep. 

“The situation is really playing on me because I was renting a two room apartment for me and my two children. And as I speak, we are displaced because of a court action and we are looking for place to sleep,” Madam Peatan said.

“The situation was surprising because they did not inform us; the only thing we got was a writ from the court in September. The government should look into the case because right now families are displaced and do not have anywhere to sleep.”

Like Madam Peatan, Beatrice Musa who suffered similar fate due to the demolition, said she was panicked by the heavy presence of officers of the Police Support Unit and the Army Forces of Liberia during the demolition. 

“I asked myself where I am going to find place for my family to live. I do not know what to do because I am too frustrated,” Beatrice explained. 

“This morning, when I saw the truck with the PSU and AFL, my heart cut and I called my son and told him that the people are here. I am not feeling fine and now I don’t know where to go and I don’t have money. I have parked my things to my friend’s place,” she said.  

Joseph Kortu, who is the landlord of the homes demolished, claimed that the Paynesville City Corporation gave the squatter right to his mother for the use of the property in 2001.

However, dispute started in 2017 when the woman, who is claiming ownership of the property, returned from the United States. 

Kortu added that the Paynesville City Magisterial Court threw out the case. 

“The Paynesville Magisterial Court found no magnitude and they threw the case out, than she took us to the civil law court where she used cash to win the case as for me I do not have case,” he said.

“On Wednesday, a man came here and he said that he came to do fact finding that’s how he met the chairman and the chairman explained everything to him. As for me I do not have money because I am thinking about the people who were living in the house but I want government to intervene.”

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