30 others suspended
The spokesperson of the recent mine workers at mounts Tokadeh and Gangra has reportedly gone missing in Yekepa, following the end of workers strike action last week.
Although ArcelorMittal Liberia has confirmed suspending from work 33 employees engaged in an “illegal strike action,” management has denied knowledge of Brown’s whereabouts.
According to the company’s reaction note sent to this newspaper, “about 11:50 a.m. on Saturday, August 4, Prince Nah Brown, was served a suspension letter among others for his alleged involvement in two separate illegal strike actions against the company that put a complete halt to mining activities.”
Management said upon receiving and signing for his suspension letter, Mr. Brown was asked to leave the mine, from where he requested a lift from a company security vehicle to the Tokadeh security entrance/junction gate.
“Brown boarded the company security lead investigator vehicle with the lead investigator himself driving, accompanied by two officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU), and was dropped off at the Tokadeh security entrance/junction. Mr. Brown was released in the presence of the entire Liberian National Police and Human Resource Team along with a Henderson Risk consultant,” the company said.
ArcelorMittal has meanwhile confirmed information from the LNP/CSD investigator (Officer Michael Ballah) that he saw Brown at aroun 3 p.m. in Camp-4, where he resides, on the same Saturday that he was suspended.
However, in the wake of the release, information reaching the Daily Observer says Mr. Prince Brown reportedly went missing on July 31, while on duty at Mount Tokadeh, where he was assigned prior to the recent strike.
Brown was allegedly arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) assigned with the Emergency Response Unit that are stationed at the concession area.
Concern is said to be rising in the concession area, with residents mounting search to establish the whereabouts of Mr. Brown. He was reportedly arrested by LNP officers assigned in the area, but the motive for his arrest and subsequent disappearance has remained unclear up to press time last night.
One account gathered by this newspaper suggests that Mr. Brown was among 33 employees that ArcelorMittal-Liberia management suspended for reportedly taking part in the recent strike actions.
On a local radio phone-in morning show in Sanniquellie on Monday, August 13, the chief detective of LNP Nimba County Crime Services Department, James Q. Kartoe, confirmed the disappearance of Prince Brown, and said that the LNP was still conducting an investigation as to his whereabouts.
Kartoe said everything surrounding the arrest and the subsequent disappearance of Mr. Brown, “whether it was LNP or private security officers responsible, is still under investigation, and therefore, I cannot jump to any conclusion until the officers are through with their investigation.”
None of the employees have spoken of the whereabouts of Mr. Brown, because of fear for their job security.
But Detective Kartoe has also confirmed the suspension of about 32 other workers, something he quoted the management as saying that the affected employees reportedly went against the “company’s policy.”
It can be recalled that normal mining activities in Yekepa came to a standstill on July 20, after mine workers protested in demand of a good working environment void of bad labor practices.
At the time, the aggrieved mine workers accused the management of carelessly addressing their plight while continuing to suppress them.
They therefore wanted management to annul the “Zero Week” in their working hours, make improvements in their food allowance, housing facilities and healthcare.
The workers were forced to resume work after the company threatened to dismiss anyone who refuses to return to work, following the intervention of the county’s leadership.
But few days later, the company allegedly suspended a number of employees, especially those who were suspected of taking part in the strike action, which subsequently led to the disappearance of their spokesperson.
Detective Kartoe quoted ArcelorMittal management as requesting the LNP to launch an investigation and/or relocate Mr. Brown.
Personnel of the Security Expert Guard Agency of Liberia (SEGAL), a private security firm guarding the concession, have denied ever detaining Mr. Brown prior to news that he had gone missing.
It was earlier speculated that Brown was being detained by SEGAL, while he was working at Mount Tokadeh.