Liberia: Why MacDonald Wento Evicted Cyber-Ed School
Monrovia – Mr. MacDonald Wontoe says the failure of the Cyber-Ed School to pay rent and refusal to enter a lease agreement with him constrained him to file an eviction lawsuit, in which the Civil Law court ruled that the school vacate his property since June 19 this year.
What is interesting about the situation is that the school in question is co-own by his wife, Ms. Mitchell Wento and Ms. Soni Williams, wife of former LPRC Managing Director T. Nelson Williams.
But Mr. Wento, a Presidential Candidate in the 2017 elections, is yet to take actual repossession of his property.
The judgment by the court comes as his wife has also petitioned the Civil Law Court, preying the court for the dissolution of the Article of Incorporation which gives ownership of the school to her and Ms. Williams.
The Low Down
Cyber-Ed, one of Liberia’s most renowned international schools, was birthed in 2014 after Mitchell was approached by Soni, asking her to join and to form the school.
The school was incorporated in 2014 and then Ebola erupted. So, the pair traveled to the United States. Mitchell returned at the end of 2014 while Soni remained in the US.
Back in Liberia, Mitchell continued to run the school and she later approached her husband so that the school could move in his building located in Sophie Community, Congo Town.
The parties – Mitchell and Soni on one hand and Mr. Wento on the other – reached an agreement whereas they would pay US$75,000 per annum as rent Mr. Wontoe. He said he then renovated the building and the school moved in.
According to Mr. Wento, when Ms. Williams returned to the country in April 2015, she told her partner [his wife] that she was not moving back to stay in Liberia.
By then, the school had already enrolled students and instructions begun.
“So, my wife continued investing in the school and I invested in the school but since we were friends (with the Williams), we didn’t mind. And, at the end of the day, I wanted to cover all the renovation of the school and the two incorporators should contribute US$10,000.
How Tension Brewed Between Mitchell & Soni
Between 2016 and 2017, Ms. Williams was back in the US while Mitchell ran the school back in Liberia. Mitchell later got pregnant and requested that Soni return to Liberia and run the school while she took maternity leave.
In 2018, Soni returned to Liberia, administered the school for two months, hired another person to run the school and traveled back to the States, Mr. Wento explained.
“So my wife came back from the US and things were upside down and the baby was two months [and] she had to go back to the school [to run it] and then she said she wanted to terminate the partnership.”
And then Ms. Wento informed Ms. Williams that she was ending the partnership at the end of the 2018/2019 school year. Mrs. Wento then sued for dissolution of the partnership.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wento had filed a lawsuit to recover his property since the school had refused to pay the rent.
A couple of weeks later, he recalled that Ms. Williams wrote a check of US$37,000 after occupying the building for four years without a lease agreement.
“I refused the check and said I won’t take the money until we signed a lease agreement [but] she refused to sign the agreement and so I said, I will not take money from you if you don’t sign the contract.”
By then, the eviction suit had made significant progress at the court but he delayed the proceedings until the end of the academic year.
At the same time, he said he asked his wife to abstain from the suit since her involvement would have been a conflict of interest.8
Later, the court ordered the school to vacate Mr. Wento’s property by June 19 – this was four days after the academic year had concluded. Mr. Wento said he gave the school ample time so that they could relocate after the end of the school year since by evicting the school would have disrupted the students learning their process.
Dissolution of Partnership Lawsuit
While judgment has been entered at the Civil Law Court for Mr. Wento, his wife’s petition for Dissolution of Partnership against Ms. Williams is yet to be heard.
Ahead of any court ruling, the two co-owners appear to be ready to sever ties sooner or later.
“I think Soni has prepared herself and Mitchell has prepared herself [also] because you cannot just close school down and walk away, you should have a plan,” Wento said.
When FrontPAgeAfrica contacted Ms. Wento she declined to comment on the matter, saying: “This is about children and I don’t want to make any
comment about the kids because my most concern is the future of these kids and how they can become future leaders of our country.
Meanwhile, her husband refuted allegations that he and his wife are muzzling the Williams in order to take over the school.
“Parents and others who know the situation are aware that these allegations are untrue. The parents know that over the last four years Soni was never at the school – she came in and go; they know who brought the children up and who took care of the school.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Wento has called on Mr. T. Nelson Williams and his wife to rebuke the misinformation that has been circulating the media about the school and his family.