Paramount Chief John Nyen of Kabaday Chiefdom in Sinoe County and five other men have been charged with murder in Greenville for the recent death of Friday Payne, a ranger at the Sapo National Park.
The six men were among a group of members of the Villagers Traditional Authority who reportedly attacked two rangers in the Sapo National Park on Friday, April 28, over disagreement about the arrest of illegal miners by the rangers without the consent of the traditional authority.
According to Sapo National Park’s Warden Jallah Johnson, a group of rangers, backed by officers of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) on a regular patrol arrested 20 miners who were illegally mining in the park.
The illegal miners were apprehended and their makeshift camp destroyed by the rangers.
He said while they were taking the men to town, the citizens, headed by Paramount Chief Nyen, interrupted them in Chebioh Town, which is situated around the park.
Mr. Johnson added that the citizens told the rangers that the men were arrested without their consent; and therefore, they should be released without delay.
“It was based on this that they surrounded the rangers with cutlasses and sticks and began to assault them,” he said. “They badly brutalized some of my men and one of them died suddenly in their hands; and my men fled into the bushes.”
He alleged that the Paramount Chief “was standing by and giving instructions to beat on us, leading to the death of one of our men on the spot.”
He said some of the men suffered bruises on their heads and bodies from the cutlasses.
“George Worgloh, one of the victims, who sustained several wounds on his head and body, was speechless when he was brought to the local headquarters of Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in Greenville.
“The citizens really planned this to have every one of us killed in cold blood for no reason,” said Romeo Wiah, a victimized ranger.
The situation has claimed the government’s attention, leaving the Ministers of Justice and Internal Affairs, the Police Director, and some managers of the FDA to promptly visit the county to bring the situation under control.
Upon their arrival on Tuesday, May 2, the officials held a meeting with Superintendent Prosperous Brown, and dispatched a team of traditional leaders to the affected area.
The delegation, on Wednesday, May 3, extended their trip to Chebio Town, which was the center of the dispute, on a fact finding mission.