-As Property Case Looms Again
By R. Joyclyn Wea
As More Than Me (MTM) Foundation reportedly swims in allegation of sex abuse, a court document has again shown that the international organization, former Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpan and APM Terminals remain in legal battle over illegal possession of the Montgomery’s property occupied by the American charity MTM.
The document indicated that Madam Kpan then superintendent of Montserrado County along with APM Terminals reportedly renovated the property (building) for the use of co-respondent, “More Than Me Foundation,” without any form of negotiation or compensation, something which violates the complainant (Matu Montgomery) property right.
In view of this, petitioner Matu Kumba Montgomery instituted an action of Summary Proceeding to Recover Possession of the Real Property on February 3, 2016, against the management of MTM Foundation represented by its CEO Katie Meyler and all other occupants under its authority, thus bringing the Respondent under the jurisdiction of the court to answer the complaint of Summary Proceedings to Recover Possession of Real Property.
The document further shows that co-respondent’s counsel subsequently moved the court to intervene, maintaining and contending that it (National Government) has common interest, and a single defense to protect their interest, to which application was ordered by the Supreme Court after a remedial process.
Article 24 of the Constitution of Liberia provides that, “private property shall not be taken for public use, without just compensation and due process of law.” Article 20(a) of the Constitution also requires procedural and substantive process, “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this constitution and in accordance with due process of law. Justice shall be done without sale, denial or delay.”
The petitioner also gave the court notice that due to the uncertainty of the government as to its purported ownership of the said property, the parties to the Memorandum of understanding, that is the respondents, stipulated a “disclaimer” stating that, “co-respondent More Than Me Foundation shall be solely responsible for liability arising out or associated with its use of the subject property, and shall receive no indemnification from the government or any of its auxiliaries in respect of any claim.
The petitioner noted that the memorandum of understanding should be disregarded because same is a mere legal nullity or does not meet the minimum requirement of a title instrument to be considered by the court.
Petitioner (Montgomery) wonders how society will be, when citizens who are called to serve in government under different regimes so elect to unilaterally abuse government power, in their deeds to trump upon the rights of private person without according them any due process.
Petitioner holds that this illegal action by government, all private people’s property rights are at risk because such precedence excuses no-one-including a judge, civil officer or Grace Kpan.
“Petitioner says and submits that the government taking of her property is unlawful and illegal. In fact, the claim of the government is baseless and insufficient under the law to establish proof. Nor would the national government be allowed to take petitioner’s private property under the mere pretext of a public purpose, when its actual purpose was to bestow a private benefit on the subject property. And that former superintendent for Montserrado county misconduct was absolutely mischievous and thus violates petitioner’s right to enjoy and use her property. And by said action all private properties are now vulnerable to be taken and transferred.”
The late Richard S. Montgomery, also grandfather to the petitioner, had bought the said land in 1922 from the late John W. Cooper in keeping with law.
During the 1950s to the early part of the 1960s, the Department Of Justice (now Ministry of Justice) had occupied the premises as tenant based upon the consent of the late Montgomery and because of the suitability of the architectural design of the premises. The department had also expressed its likeness for the building because it was one of the then few that met metropolitan standards, and particularly the ideal location near the grounds of the Executive Pavilion which hosted the Executive Mansion, at the time.
Sometimes between 1950s to 1960s, being a faculty member of the University of Liberia, the late Richard Montgomery allowed the university to use the building as Administrative Building due to the expansion of the university at the time and later after the coup in 1980, the building in questioned was occupied by military personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).