By Edwin G. Wandah
The New Kru Town Magisterial Court has set this Wednesday for hearing in a land case involving the Episcopal Church of Liberia Caldwell Branch and the Johnson family who are currently settled on the land and are allegedly selling portions of the land to other people in the area.
On June 18, 2014, a writ of arrest was issued against Edward S. Obey, Frederick Gibson and others to be identified for the crime of Criminal Mischief by Eric Collins over ten acres of land in Caldwell that both parties are claiming ownership of.
But after an investigation conducted by this paper, the land in question, being ten acres of land was owned by the Episcopal Church since buildings and structures on the land show that it was once a religious ground.
In further investigation conducted, the Episcopal Church of Liberia Caldwell Branch which bears an original deed of the land in question bought the land in 1853 and immediately constructed worship structures on the land until the civil unrest in the 80’s.
When this Paper visited the scene of the land dispute, several persons in the area, some of whom have been living on the land for many years stated that they know the Episcopal Church as the church that had been in existence for years.
According to them, during the war, former INPFL leader, Prince Y. Johnson, who is currently senior Senator of Nimba County settled and occupied the church’s property, along with several of his followers including hundreds of orphans he took from the war.
The residents also disclosed that when ECOMOG flushed Prince Y. Johnson out of Caldwell, the land remained vacant and vulnerable, attracting others including the Johnson family to settle on the land, and began selling portions of the land.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church of Liberia has vowed to take the land case seriously. According to Mr. Charles Snetter, the church has already consulted its lawyer on the recent development and will be putting the bit and pieces together to ensure that the church’s property is retrieved.
Mr. Snetter said that the Johnson family has been engaging the Episcopal Bishop of Liberia on the recent situation. According to him, the Johnsons did not present any document showing them as legitimate owners of the property, something Mr. Snetter believes is a clever attempt to appeal for a compromise from the Johnson family.