23 September 2013

Liberia: Grace Minor Challenges NOCAL

Photo: Rachael Knight/Namati
Community members draw maps of their land (file photo).

A former Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate, Madam Grace Beatrice Minor, has challenged authorities of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) to prove the allegation that she has sold or was in negotiation with NOCAL for the sale of her two acres of land in the Congo Town. Madam Minor is proprietress of the controversial Gio Town community that was recently demolished by the court.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, September 22nd for the first time since the inception of the land crisis in the Cong Town area, the ex-senate pro-temp said there have been reports that she has sold the two acres of land to NOCAL and reportedly used the court to evict residents and destroy their properties.

But Madam Minor said that there is nothing of such and that the allegation has no basis, but to create more political tension and defame her hard earned character. Victims of the Gio Town episode are claiming that Madam Minor through the Monrovia Civil Law Court evicted hundreds of residents from the property to sell it to the National Oil Company of Liberia.

There have been reports that NOCAL bought the two acres of land from the Minor's family at about US$700,000 to construct its headquarters, but Madam Minor said the property has not be sold, and that nobody from NOCAL or any entity has ever approached her for purchasing.

Residents of the town on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 staged street demonstrations, blocking the main Congo Town-Monrovia route with mattresses, benches, bricks, pots and other items, demanding government's attention. They took the street after their homes were demolished on the alleged orders of the former Montserrado County Senator Grace Minor on July 17, 2013.

Commenting on the eviction, she pointed out that the exercise was carried by the court though she requested for the eviction, but it was based on ruling from the Civil Law Court of Montserrado County.

But some of the residents argued they were not given prior notice before the demolition exercise, while others said they have legal documents to their homes that were demolished.

Congo Town came to a standstill with congested traffic for over eight hours as women and children sat on the main road along with their cooking utensils in protest, something Madam Minor rejected in the strongest term.

The former Senator during the administration of ex-President Charles Taylor said that land in question was given to her by father, but a watchman of her later father, who asked to temporarily reside on the premises, constructed a mud hut there, and as a result of the civil war, the land was subsequently occupied by some people.

According to her, during the seven years of legal battle, the occupants did not have documents to establish their claims so their legal defense counsel backed-off from the case.

She added that following the ruling by the court and eviction of the occupants, some of them, including Mr. Gontee Meddrics have persistently issued threats against her life, which have been reported to the police through the Justice Ministry.

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