14 September 2012

Liberia: E.L.W.A Land Not for Ministerial Complex

Barely 24 hours after a legal counsel for the ELWA Mission condemned government for demolishing a fence belonging to that organization, the government has hit back, saying its action was "legal and justified."

ELWA's lawyer, Cllr. Milton D. Taylor Wednesday condemned the demolition as "unlawful, unauthorized and barbaric."

But Information Minister Lewis Browne expressed government's side of the story at a regular weekly press briefing here Thursday.

"Let me speak to the ELWA land issue. "I know that for some time now you have been hearing about government [is] trying to acquire some land in the ELWA area. I want to inform you that the government of Liberia, through all legal means, has acquired 25 acres of land in the ELWA community," he said.

In fact, Mr. Browne said the 25 acres of land acquired in the ELWA area would not be used for construction of the Ministerial Complex that China signed to build for Liberia.

He said government already earmarked another project to be carried out on the reacquired land, and promised to disclose soon the new site for construction of the Ministerial Complex.

Government's latest statement comes amid bitter feelings at the ELWA Mission over the parcel of land that the mission claimed was acquired by legislation during President Tubman's administration.

Commenting on the constitutional provision of "Eminent Domain", Cllr. Taylor argued that the provision is not applicable to Emissary Grants as long as the purposed is being served, sitting article 22 (C) as his legal defence.

The law covers only private landowners, he further argued.

"Holding everything constant, even if one were to agree to the argument in government's quarters that the land given to the mission is still undeveloped, the procedure in which the Government wants to required the land is unlawful," he told this paper.

"We are not against development. We do not want for other governments to make any similar mistakes that this government is making. We've suggested to them that in order to reacquire the land, we should repeal the legislation that created it."

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