Police Investigate Arson Attack on A Warehouse in Ganta

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This warehouse in Ganta was burnt to the ground 24 hours after an eviction order was executed on the Jabateh and Donzo families, parties to a land dispute that lasted 10 years.

As calm returns after hours of panic

The Liberia National Police (LNP), under the prompt supervision of its Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, has restored calm in Ganta and is investigating to establish the cause of an arson attack on a warehouse in that commercial city.

Following the eviction of two families (Jabatehs and Donzos) from a stretch of land in Ganta on April 19, residents in the city went amok on April 20, 2021, upon seeing fire on a warehouse near the land in question.  Schools and commercial activities in that busy city were suspended with people taking refuge in their homes.

In a telephone interview with IG Sudue yesterday evening, he affirmed that the police has brought the tension under complete control.  “What we look up to now is peace, and as calm is restored, we are going to investigate and arrest those behind the arson attack to bring them to justice.  Those who committed the act must face justice and we will make sure they face justice,” IG Sudue told the Daily Observer.

The Administrative Assistant to the Mayor of Ganta, Africanus Dolo, told the Daily Observer yesterday evening that following a meeting with Police Inspector General Sudue, they have begun the propagation of peace messages to keep all calm while the investigation goes on to get the culprit of the arson attack.

It is not yet clear the monetary value of the damage done to the goods in the warehouse, but Mr. Dolo said the warehouse is one of the few wherein goods going to the southeast and other parts of Nimba are stored.

Upon seeing the warehouse in flames, men mainly of the Gio and Mano tribes in Ganta rose up with the plan of retaliating on the Mandingo group that has been in land conflict with the two tribal groups since the war in Liberia ended about 17 years ago.

Those of the Gio and Mano tribes accused the Mandingoes of masterminding the arson attack following the eviction because, upon enforcing the eviction order on Monday, April 19, a member of the Mandingo tribe, Mike Jabateh, appeared live on Facebook and threatened the life of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, who he said is the chief engineer behind the eviction of Mandingoes from their land.

Mike Jabateh: “If anything happens to any Mandingo person in Ganta, some of us will sacrifice our lives to go and die with them.”

As tension was mounting, Mike Jabateh, who had on a military uniform, appeared live on Facebook and threatened further that, “If anything happens to any Mandingo person in Ganta, some of us will sacrifice our lives to go and die with them.  I want the Government of Liberia to send officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia in Nimba County now, and I say now!”

According to Administrative Assistant Dolo, as the eviction was taking place on Monday, a member of the Jabateh family affected in the exercise along with the Donzoes threatened to carry out violence and was arrested and remanded in police custody.  Dolo said the Jabateh family member and three others arrested were later released on the same day, and it was following their release that the arson attack took place.  “While we cannot outrightly state that they are responsible for the attack on the warehouse, we can say they are prime suspects and should therefore be rearrested and investigated,” said Mr. Dolo

Even though the land dispute leading to the arson attack is between the Jabateh and Donzo families on the one hand and the Paye Suah family, on the other hand, the tension brewing is interpreted as “Tribal conflict.”  Mike Jabateh claims that the Gio and Mano have marginalized the Mandingo people that they can no longer wait to defend themselves.  The Gio and Mano tribes are however accusing the Mandingoes of attacking them and, in the wake of the arson attack on the warehouse, they were galvanizing to set the mosques in Ganta ablaze.  

Mr. Dolo said as the city government of Ganta and the Police Inspector General begin propagating the peace messages, they are also telling both sides that the land in question belongs to a particular family that no member of any tribe will have a portion and therefore they should stop branding the issue as a tribal conflict between Gio-Mano on the one hand and Mandingoes on the other hand.

“No Mano or Gio man has a share in the land that is being turned over to Fred Suah and his family by the court, and if it were the Jabatehs or Donzoes, no Mandingo man will have a portion.  So, people should not make the issue to appear like a conflict between the Mandingoes and Gio-Mano,” Dolo said.

Land dispute remains a key tipping point for potential conflict in post-conflict Liberia. In the Ganta instant, the tribesmen of the respective families involved have taken the issue as a matter of tribal offense.  Since 2003, the Mandingoes have found it not easy to justify their occupancy of some areas they claim were occupying before the war. However, some have contested their cases in the court and reclaimed their lands, which they have leased to businesspeople in Ganta.

The ongoing land dispute between the three families had gone on for 10 years until April 19 when the court ordered that people on it should be evicted and the land be turned over to Fred Suah of the Paye family.

In 2010, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared Eminent Domain on the disputed land, on which the regular Ganta market is located, as a way of resolving the conflict.  However, since the declaration eleven years ago, the government has not claimed the land to use it for anything of public interest.  The marketeers have not moved despite the erection of a new market in the Deahkehmein Community.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Voice of Reasoning: Food for Thought.

    Nimba remains a FLASH POINT for violence in post war Liberia. Many stories are told of Nimba sparking activities during the built up to the civil war.
    The energy we have to burn warehouses, Mosques, Churches, etc, to make our point; those energies can be transformed into making farms to feed ourselves.

    Remember fellow countrymen, there is no winner in civil conflict. It is destruction, destitution and lose.
    Great nations that fought civil wars, are still at war within themselves today, on what was fought over for hundred of years.
    Example, the United States Civil War 1861-1865 came to an ‘end’ when General Lee surrendered at Appomattox in 1865. It was a glaring sign that the Union (Northern States ), won the war. That only brought an end to physical combat. But the war is still been fought today at many fronts. The idea that brought the war (keeping Black Man as slave) is still visible today in different forms: Jim Crow law, Police brutality against minorities, voter suppressing, the formation of the K.K.K (Ku Klux Klan) a white group form to terrorize Blacks, racial profiling of Black Men, systemic racism, etc. Confederate generals who took arms against the union, (Jefferson Davis, Braxton Bragg, Henry Benning), to name a few; have monuments built in their honor. Those monuments are kept as shrines for those who harbor sentiments against liberal (integration) views.

    The energy of our brothers and sisters in Nimba County should be tailored to unity and building a strong Nimba. Let not the new generation carry a relic of conflict into their feature, it will only deepen the divide for successive generation.
    There will be no winner, and Nimba will only be used as a FLASH POINT again, and again.

    An AGGRIEVED INDIVIDUAL will always find an asymmetrical way to get even.

    Mamadu Bah (N/P) Meridian Health, Adelaide, Australia

  2. Hearing these threatening statements from Mack Jabateh, only strengthens desire for the establishment of The War & Economic Crime Court. Our outright rejection of the rule of law, has encouraged some Liberians to get involve in making reckless statements, that present threat to the lives of other Liberians. This Ganta issue, is a legal contest between few families, that can not be elevated to a tribal issue. Mack Jabateh, who is a member of the ruling CDC, has threatened to kill the Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor, if any Mandingo man/woman is killed in Ganta. How can he make this terroristic threat, and go with impunity? Is this the nation, that we anticipated? Is the LNP, really a CDC police force? No matter how you think, Mandingoes, Manos and Gios will live together peacefully. There is nothing that can take us back, to our past. I hope the necessary officials conduct an appropriate intervention, so that peace can return to our beloved county, Nimba.

  3. Injustice! Injustice! Injustice!

    Liberia will witness more of this as long as those, who are charged with the dispensation of justice, lack moral rectitude.

    Violence ramifies in people’s psyche in rather subtle ways. Sometimes its eruption is associated with imageries of societal injustices and disparities and at other times with personalities such as Chief Justice Korkpor.

    This is not meant to sully the integrity of our good Mano tribesmen, but just hearing the name Chief Justice Korkpor sent shivers through the spine of the poor Mandingo folks as the name denoted a foregone conclusion they were not expected to receive justice against his tribal folks from him.

    Korkpor has constitutionally reached retirement age but hides it, and Weah accepts it under the condition he remains bribable, corrupt, and compromising, thus failing to realize he, Korkpkpor, is prepping the nation for a catastrophic social upheaval.

    Korkpor is rotten to the core, and this can be attested to by a recent landmark case which involved Mr. Brosius, a Liberian businessman and associate justice Mappy during which the fact was alleged associate justice Mappy played a role in defrauding Mr. Brosius of a whopping U.S. $3 ml. And as the story goes, Korkpor stepped in after the verdict was brought against associate justice Mappy requesting for a lessening of the full penalty against her.

    The incidents in Maryland and now in Nimba occurred under different circumstances, but are achieving the same results. Why? I will be biased if I outright say the Mandingoes have been wronged without an understanding of the full dynamics in this case. Nonetheless, whether in Maryland or Nimba, people will not keep internalizing injustices forever. Sooner or later they will eventually externalize their inner feelings. And pray tell me, the results may not be always pretty!

    Patrick Sudue is cautioning people, many of them who may be acting in self-defense, to remain calm and turn the other cheek to be punched more or even killed for that matter. I don’t quite understand his philosophy and world view on how people living in a so-called Christian nation should interact with one another and how the police that are in the forefront to enforce the laws and the equitable distribution of justice should behave. However, people’s tolerance does run out sometimes. As a Liberian, I surmised he is quite aware that scores of defenseless citizens were murdered because of their ethnicity during the tragic Liberian civil war! The Mandingoes are reacting based on this sordid history.

  4. Peace, peace, peace, peace!
    I call on all sides to prone peace in their words and deeds in Ganta!

    When a country is freshly from war, the justice system should restore hope and ensure lawfulness. We have been horning this over and over but not being heeded. We need credible people within our justice system. Verdicts should be reached through scientific proofs beyond all doubts. We must equally learn to accept the rule of law by going through legal means to contest judgments.
    We need peace in Ganta, my people, we beg you!

    Mr. Mike Jabateh (DIABATE), aren’t’ you tired fighting, brother? You had 15 years to prove yourself, give us, the weak people, the chance to enjoy the environment we can survive in best. You think by gowning yourself in an army uniform can scare the police or the justice department? You must be arrested for your posts on Facebook and brought to justice.
    Liberia is no longer a barbaric and outlawed land, it has become a country of laws, NOT men. Stop dragging all the Mandingo people into your gangsterism and hooliganism. What astonishes me is that someone wrote that you belong to the CDC, is this a demonstration of your might?

    To my little brother Mamadou Bah in Australia, what do you gain in using asymmetrical tactics to resolve a legal problem?
    Learn to control your emotion, my pekin! Every human being can decide to become violent or tamed. Since we need to live in a civilized environment to fend for our families and improve our lives, men established the rule of law to govern our society.

    What has been gained from using asymmetrical tactics in Mogadishu, Libya, Mali, Yemen? Don’t you want your children to grow up in a decent and peaceful environment? Why be so quick to resort to violence all the time?
    Intriguingly, when push comes to shove, most of you abandon the violence you had clamored, why? Let’s give peace a chance in Liberia!

    The problem of land in Liberia is a delicate issue to resolve. Our people, very hospital in those days, accepted and gave out lands to our brothers from the sub region to temporarily settle. If for any reason, the grandchildren of those who gave you the land come back to claim it, NEGOTIATE and stop behaving as if the land is your inheritance. Gumpa (Ganta) is for the Mano people

    I pray for the wisdom of Solomon on those working on this land issue. May Liberians learn to live together again in Liberia.
    The war is OVER, put it behind you forever my people!

  5. Yes sir. BIG BROTHER I m speaking of any aggrieved party/parties. We the Liberian people should go down to the wire and find out if there is any aggrieved group. That could be our Gio, Mano or Mandingo brothers or sisters. Because if we don’t, they may go quietly, but may not be happy. ASYMMETRICAL is used here to highlight feelings, not a solution to the problem. I m not saying this should be the answer to the problem. But we should avoid a situation in which people will want to use it as solution hypothetically, to solve grievances.

    Let God bless every Liberian. We don’t want anymore conflict. It is easy to start, but difficult to end. Let every Liberian pray for Nimba County.

    I want to come home and go up to Yekepa, Sanniquellie, Ganta and have a nice bowl of GBs with some fresh water fish, and wash it down with real palm wine.

    Peace ✌🏾 is the answer.

  6. When I watched the Youtube video of Mike Jabateh and another older guy making inflammatory statements on that platform, I was floored by their combined lack of wisdom! Now what if some hothead watching these threats proceeded to do something crazy? Considering the conflagration our nation suffered and all the painstaking efforts that have put into restoring peace, these flame throwers were not being helpful!

    Blunty put, Gompa was established geographically and ethnically a Mahn town! However, since then people from outside began to settle there with various arragements and agreements of land occupancies. The big legal problem for some in recent years has been how difficult is to claim ownership to a piece of land for which a deed does not exist or cannot be produced.

    When you have situations as delicate as the land issue in Ganta (following the end of the crisis), one needs to proceed with utmost care and fairness in the interest of peace. In so doing, sometimes we need to take a deep breath and be rational. By now, we all should have learned how we have all suffered in more ways than one because nobody owns a monopoly on violence! Assymetrical solutions are not really the to solve anything permanently. It only leads down the path of revenge and open hostility!

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