The long standing dispute over the Testate Estate of the late Milad R. Hage, with BassamJawhary and Ecobank-Liberia on the one hand last Wednesday took a dramatic turn when the court ruled that the properties be turned over to the widow of the deceased and her children. The case has been pending before Judge J. Vinton Holder, presiding Judge of the Monthly and Probate Court at the Temple of Justice for many years without adjudication.
Court records available to this paper revealed that Jawhary, who claimed to have lived with the late Hage prior to his death in Lebanon allegedly took ownership of the properties as the legitimate executor, leaving Oumou and her children out.
The ruling grew out of a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed with the Supreme Court of Liberia against the respondent Judge Holder to which he had to recuse himself from further proceeding with the trial.
It was at that stage, the Supreme Court sent a mandate down to the court below for Judge Eva Mappy Morgan to resume jurisdiction over the case; the petition was intended to prohibit the respondent Judge Holder from resuming jurisdiction over the matter.
In her final ruling last Wednesday, Judge Morgan declared that pursuant to the mandate of the Supreme Court of Liberia; the court determined that the lease agreements executed by and between OumouSirleaf-Hage and the late MiladHage had expired.
Judge Morgan, who is also the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, directed the clerk to issue an order that all properties covered by lease should be turned over to Oumou and her children.
“Accordingly, effective as of the date of this ruling, it is hereby also ordered that all tenants occupying said properties are now tenants of OumouSirleaf-Hage , widow, Bashir M. Hage, son, Rachael Hage, daughter, Monica Hage, daughter, and NowahHage, daughter,” Judge Morgan ruled.
She further ruled that all rental proceeds be payable to the aforesaid mentioned widow and her children.
The petitioners/movants were represented by Cllrs. Frederick Cherue and SaymaSyreniusCephus, Chief Executive Officer of the Justice and Public Interest Consortium Africa (JUPICA), while the respondents were represented by Cllr. Milton D. Taylor and Viama J. Blama.
It can be recalled that the Ecobank-Liberia’s involvement with the properties came as a result of loans the deceased took from the bank to build the stores several years back.
However, before the final judgment on Wednesday, February 3, 2015, counsels representing the legal interest of the respondents submitted that an entire audit of Jawhary and Ecobank-Liberia be dispensed conditionally that the executor will relinquish his position over the estate and turn the properties to the custody of the Monthly and Probate Court.
The record revealed that the executor claimed that he did some construction work on the properties which cost him about US$382,147.25, and requested for the amount of US$660,000 and US$300, 000 as retainer and legal fees for lawyers.