LIBERIA’S OLDEST POLITICAL PARTY SUES THE GOVERNMENT OVER THE ALLEGED FORCEFUL SEIZURE OF ITS SECRETARIAT

Liberia’s oldest political party, the True Whig Party (TWP), has filed a case before the ECOWAS Court of Justice against the Republic of Liberia alleging the violation of its rights to property following the seizure of the party’s secretariat building by the former military government known as the People’s Redemption Council (PRC)

The party, which was registered in 1869 registered as political party in the country, said in its initiating application, that the confiscation also violated its right to fair hearing, equality of the law and before the law and freedom from discrimination as the seizure is contrary to provisions of articles (of the Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, 14 and 19) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and (Articles 2, 8 and 23 of) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The TWP was the ruling party in Liberia before the  April 1980 coup d’état that led to the assassination of the party’s flag bearer and 19th president, William Richard Tolbert and the execution of 13 senior government officials

In its application filed on 3rd November 2021, the TWP submitted that the (PRC) confiscated its headquarters in Monrovia known as the E.J. Roye building, named after the country’s fifth president, who was overthrown in 1871 and later died.

The lead Counsel to the TWP, Mr Femi Falana, SAN stated that other properties belonging to the political party were also seized and that the military government’s PRC issued military Decrees such as Decree 11 to legitimize the seizures.

He added that between 2006 and 2007, the Liberian government quietly offered to buy the headquarters building for 600,000 USD but party members resisted and on 9 April 2013, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with some former officials of TWP and bought the asset for 130,000 USD.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) submitted that the MOU could not be regarded as binding since the purported TWP officials’ tenure in office expired prior to the MOU with the government.

Among other things, the TWP is in the suit asking the Court to determine the alleged breach of the right to property by the forceful takeover of its properties and its entitlement to reliefs sought. It added that the confiscation of its property was without justification and adequate compensation as ordered by a competent court violated its right to property and inconsistent with the provisions of the Liberian Constitution.

It is therefore seeking the orders of the Court declaring that the forceful takeover of the secretariat building violated its right to fair hearing and equality of the law and before the law; that the Liberian government failed in its obligation to investigate and prosecute its armed agents who looted TWP’s properties and to direct the Liberian government to hand back the building and pay 10 million USD as general damages for the violations.

No date has been fixed for the hearing.