Monrovia – Amid its dilapidated condition, the quest for ownership of the E.J. Roye Building on Ashmun Street took a center stage at the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice when state and lawyers argued over ownership.
The argument by the court has grown out of a petition filed by lawyers of the grand True Whig Party asking the court to grant them declaratory judgment to own rights to the building which has been seized by the Ministry of Justice.
But Justice Minister Federick Cherue who took the stand on behalf of the government asked the court to dismiss the petition because the petitioners have not shown any evidence that they own the building.
Cllr. Cherue told Judge Boima Kontoe that when the People Redemption Council (PRC), the military junta that overthrew the Tolbert government in 1980, took power, the military enacted Decree PRC 11 that stated that properties of officials of the toppled government should be turned over to their families except the E.J. Roye Building.
The Justice Minister stated since the military junta left power the decree 11 has not been repealed, meaning that the E.J. Roye Building is still the property of government and not a property of the grand True Whig Party which was the only political party in the country for decades until the government of the late President Tolbert was overthrown.
The party, however, still exists, operating at low ebb.
Solicitor General Betty Lamin Blamo who buttressed the argument of her boss stated that the E.J. Roye Building is not for any private individual as claimed, because it was built with the taxes collected from Liberians.
“PRC Decree 11 has not been repealed, why the True Whig Party (TWP) is trying to claim the building when everyone paid for it?” asked the Solicitor General.
“Who says the court can undo the decision of the PRC?” she further asked rhetorically.
Arguing on behalf of TWP, Cllr. Syrenius Cephas questioned why the government was asking the party to turn over the deed to the building when it’s contending that the building belongs to the state.
“Your honor, this building is owned by the TWP. It is surprising for the government to rely on PRC Decree 11 at this time to claim ownership for the building,” said Cllr. Cephas.
Cllr. Cephas told FrontpageAfrica in a post hearing trial that he maintains he stance that the building is for the TWP and wants to negotiate with government, but the government is not willing to listen.
Judge Boima Kontoe after the argument of pros and cons reserved ruling on the petition to be delivered on September 5, 2017 at the hour of 3:00 pm and the ruling will center on whether to grant or dismiss the petition.