The Ganta Progressive Mandingo Youths Association (GAPMAYA) of over 600 Mandingo members between the ages of 18 and 40, gave the stern warning on Sunday in relation to an alleged construction work ongoing on the land despite the government’s ‘Halt order' on April 20, 2021, following a demolition exercise on the disputed and land.
Angry and red-eyed Mandingo youths have threatened to rain 'terror' in the commercial City of Ganta, Nimba County, if construction continues on the disputed land in Ganta. The uncertainty as to who owns the disputed land has been lingering since 2003.
In the St. Francis Community, Jacob's Town in Monrovia, the National Chairman, Abraham B. Keitah, told scores of journalists that construction on the disputed land is a “Sleepy slope” development that is unfolding on a daily basis to the detriment of human coexistence, and dangerous to the human desire for happiness given such a bleak situation, and this alleged action shows ‘negligence’ of the government in its responsibility amid the halt order.
On April 19 this year, the people of Ganta woke up to the demolition of properties on disputed land claimed by some Mandingo families and the Suah family. By the decision and order of the court, the disputed land belongs to the Suah family, but despite the court’s judgment, the Mandingos insist that the land is theirs. The eviction and demolition orders paralyzed activities in Ganta.
“Government quickly moved in to put the situation under control with the deployment of armed police officers. The government’s rapid move was welcomed when President Weah invited all parties to Monrovia to hear from them. The President set up a committee to thoroughly investigate the disputed land and report its finding to him within sixty (60) days/two months,” Keitah recalled.
He furthered: “Since then, neither the President nor the committee has said anything about the issue that is casting a dark cloud over Ganta, which has the propensity to cause chaos. To further provoke the peace-loving people of the Mandingo community, one of the leader in the illegal land grab in the person of Fred Johnson who called himself Fred Suah, has begun building structures on some of these properties, perhaps in defiance of the government’s order that all parties stop constructions until government reviews the committee’s report to make an informed decision,” he alleges.
The GAPMAYA National Chairman said it is highly speculated that not only that Fred Johnson (who has been allegedly accused of constructing on the land) does not only respect the government order but constructing with the advice and consent of the government through its surrogates in Nimba county while the other parties from the Mandingo community, the actual owners of these properties, are living like displaced.
Fred Suah (Johnson) in response to a question about this allegation denied and said he is not involved in any such action as alleged. “The Internal Affairs Minister and other stakeholders were here yesterday (September 4) and they found out that nothing of such is happening. All of what they are saying is fake and there is no truth in it,” said Fred.
According to Keitah, GAPMAYA in collaboration with the citizens of Ganta from the Mandingo ethnic group urged the government to understand the plight of the people and not to renege on her own commitments in pursuance of lasting peace for its citizens void of ethnicity, political and demographic sentiments.
“With total uncertainty like this, no amount of arm twisting or political suppression will subdue the aggrieved victims, the Mandingoes, to forgo their fundamental rights provided by our 1986 constitution, specifically Chapter 3, Article 22, (a) which states ‘EVERY PERSON SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO OWN PROPERTY ALONE AS WELL AS IN ASSOCIATION WITH OTHERS, PROVIDED THAT ONLY LIBERIAN CITIZENS SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO OWN REAL PROPERTY WITHIN THE REPUBLIC,’” Keitah said.
“Let this claim the government’s attention that tribal suppression or extermination has never worked anywhere in the world regardless of how small that tribe might be in number. We, therefore, call on the government again to recommit itself to her own promise to bring total peace in Nimba by dispensing justice without fear or favor. We believe that this has been said many times and on many occasions but taken for granted," he said.
Keita added "So, failure on the part of the government of Liberia to properly intervene to bring lasting peace among its citizens. We will resist any illegal construction work on our properties going forward and will immediately engage in construction to alleviate our women and children from the status of displacement in their own homes, and we remain very unfaltering and prepared to sacrifice our lives if the government of Liberia fails us.”
Keitah indicated that they will continue to engage states actors and regional stakeholders and by extension, be visiting The American Embassy near Monrovia and the European Union offices. Meanwhile, the aggrieved Mandingo group also warned Internal Affairs Minister, Varney Sirleaf, against what it described as a "reckless statement" made on Saturday, 4 September 21, to build a City Hall on the land declared eminent domain in 2010 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Mandingo youths warned that the government should not take advantage of the minority to seize their lands illegally through eminent domain.
“We want to let him (Internal Affairs Minister) know that we are aware of the layout procedure of how government can acquire land through eminent domain, but not in this surreptitious form and manner in which you want to suppress the minority at the expense of the so-called majority because of your politically selfish desire. No amount of political manipulation cause us to shun,” Keitah sai