Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS), Col Eric W. Dennis, has ordered soldiers deployed at the borderlines in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties, Western Liberia, to shoot any individual/s crossing into the country from neighboring Sierra Leone under the cover of darkness.
DCOS Dennis issued the order on Friday to the commander of the platoon-size detachments of soldiers deployed in those counties.
The soldiers are under orders to shoot on sight those who violate President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s mandate ordering all borders closed in the wake of the spread of the Ebola virus across the country.
Col. Dennis’ instruction was prompted by a report presented to him during a tour of the borderlines over the weekend by immigration officers assigned at Bo-Waterside.
Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) reports confirmed to commanders that illegal entries around Bo Water are now being used under the cover of darkness by some individuals crossing over into Liberia and verse versa during night hours.
Bo-Waterside Immigration Commander, Col. Samuel Mulbah, informed the AFL DCOS that despite the closure of the borders, some ‘unscrupulous’ individuals, mainly Sierra Leoneans, were using makeshift canoes at night to cross people into the country as well as take people from Liberia to that neighboring West African state.
He disclosed that the Sierra Leoneans have been taking advantage of the 35 ‘illegal entry points’ (the porous borderlines) in Grand Cape Mount County, and the inability of immigration officers and security personnel to efficiently man all of those illegal entry points effectively owing to logistical and other constrains.
Col. Mulbah expressed fear that Liberia was at risk, “because we don’t know the health status of those who are being crossed at night in the makeshift canoes by these Sierra Leoneans”.
In a direct military order, the AFL Deputy COS, who headed a team of several other security personnel to the border, immediately ordered the soldiers deployed in the area to not hesitate to shoot in the the legs any individual/s illegally migrating into Liberia and Sierra Leone under the cover of darkness.
“I want to hear that someone gets a bullet in their leg. First, you need to send a warning shot, and then after you burst their legs, the affected person/s will realize that he has violated a standing order or a law of another country,” Col. Dennis mandated the soldiers as they (soldiers) responded in unison, “Yes, Sir!.”
He then ordered the solders to deal decisively with any violator of the law, daring violators to bring the soldiers’ complaint to the 23rd Infantry Headquarters in Monrovia.
Col. Dennis, who was received on the tour by the commander of soldiers deployed in the area, 1st Lieutenant Toogbabu Ivan, was accompanied by the Commander of AFL’s 23rd Infantry Brigade, Col. Prince C. Johnson, III and others.
Col. Dennis told the soldiers that there was a need for them to set an example, “because there are other people along the borderlines who are joking with the health and lives of Liberians and other nationals in the country. Our border needs to be closed and remain as such because nobody is allowed to enter and cross illegally.”
Meanwhile, Col. Dennis has warned soldiers and other security officers assigned at the border against taking bribes or crossing people into the country themselves, risking the lives of Liberian citizens.
By that directive, he said he would recommend to the Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the AFL, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and to members of the presidential taskforce that Immigration officers assigned with the border patrol division be issued rifles as they maintain the borders with the AFL.
“I will ensure that you get at least five or six rifles (AK-47) here for use by the border patrol officers,” he assured the Immigration Commander.
At the same time also, Col. Dennis disclosed that he would instruct the commander of the Liberian Coast Guard to commission a boat to patrol the territorial waters particularly along the borderlines.
The aim, he said, is to stop ‘undesirable aliens’ from using that means to illegally enter the country.