A 23 year-old Liberian identified as Momo Kamara was on the 9th of January, 2014, brutalized by a Guniean soldier at the Liberian–Guinea border in Ganta, Nimba County.
According to eyewitnesses, the 23-year-old was dragged and his head banged against an iron bar that forms a part of the iron bridge linking the two countries.
In tears, Momo told this paper that while at the border point during the evening hours of the 9th of January 2014, an Italian woman, traveling by way of Guinea, asked him to assist her through security from the Liberia side, in order to get to Guinea.
According to him, the woman did not speak English well, and needed someone to help her through the Liberian security.
“After I assisted her in getting through the Liberian check point, she asked me to escort her to the Guinean side to find me something,” he said.
“After crossing over to the Guinean side of the border around the second gate, this Guinean military man asked me to get away from the woman; I told him that the woman had asked me to follow her so she could find me something; but this soldier insisted that I stayed away,” he added.
He added that when he left the woman and crossed over to the Liberian side of the border, this officer identified as Olisee Maneh followed him and knocked him down, and began kicking and hitting his head against the iron bar of the bridge.
“I received a deep cut in my head and began bleeding terribly on the ground before I was rushed to the Power House Clinic,” he said.
The registrar at Power House Clinic confirmed registering the man during the late evening hours of January 9, for treatment; they were unable to explained in detail, the severity of the wound.
Eyewitnesses narrated that after the officer assaulted the young Liberian and noticed that he had inflicted a serious wound to his head, he immediately took him and rushed him to the clinic in Ganta.
“Why should a Guinean officer cross over to a neighboring country and behave the way he did?” an onlooker asked.
The action of the Guinean nearly caused an outbreak of mob-violence against Mr. Olisee Maneh at the clinic. But with intervention by the police, he was taken into ‘protective custody’ at the police station, where he remained until UNMIL took him to their camp.
The following day, UNMIL and local security authorities escorted him to Guinea.
Effort to get the side of the Guinean army personnel was not possible because according to some Liberian security, the issue was already put to rest—so there was no need to push it further.
Security authorities at the border remained tight-lipped about the incident; but one of the officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the incident was finally resolved on Wednesday, the 15th January, by which time the victim had been sufficiently treated.
But the Chairman of the Mano River Joint Border Security and Administrative Assistant at the Ganta City Corporation, Mr. Emmanuel Paye, said the case had been compromised, based on our bilateral relationship with Guinea.
He said even though they held the Guinean officer liable for the offense, the Government of Liberia was taking all responsibility to treat the boy.
“The Guinean soldier was wrong for crossing over to Liberia, assaulting the boy; but the time that the boy entered Guinean territory was after the normal border opening. So we harmonized everything,” he added.
There had been conflicting reports of harassment of Liberians on the Guinean side of the border by the Guinean authority in Tio, the first bordering town in Guinea from the Yekepa side of the border. Sometimes they hamper movement and trade, it has been reported.
Security at Ganta Border had been complaining of the ‘baggy boys’ who, on many occasions, were accused of allegedly of stealing travelers’ luggage but whether Kamara was one of the baggy boys roaming around the border, as well as how he crossed with this while lady through all checkpoints is yet to be established.