… to curtail growing threat of illegal migrants taking over forest lands
The outgoing Senator of Grand Gedeh County, J. Alphonso Gaye, has proffered a motion, for the Liberian Senate’s recommendation, that President George Manneh Weah to immediately mandate the joint security, led by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), to move in Grand Gedeh County to curtail the threat of illegal migrants occupying forest lands in that region of the country.
“I move that [before] this hearing comes to a close, that this Senate produces an a memo to be presented to the President (George Weah), with specific recommendations that the joint security, headed by the AFL be instructed, mandated, supported to move in immediately so as to diminish the threat that is existing that region of Grand Gedeh County, Senator Gaye proffered in a motion that was unanimously approved.
The motion followed hours of moving hearings by members of the joint security in the Chambers of the Senate Annex yesterday, which included the Inspector General of Police, Patrick Sudue; Internal Affairs Minister Varney A Sirleaf; the National Security Advisor to the President; as well as the Commissioner General of Liberia Immigration Service, Robert W Budy; among others.
The hearing was prompted by a communication from the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, Grand Gedeh County Senator A. Marshall Dennis, to the Senate plenary, complaining of the illegal occupation of parts of the county by migrants from Burkina Faso.
In a video power-point presentation, IG Sudue exhibited video and still footage of young individuals, believed to be Burkinabes known as Mossi, and farm huts used for housing, with hundreds of acres of burnt forest land, which they use for planting cocoa and coffee.
Inspector Sudue asserted that the Government of Liberia needs to do something now, expressing fear of a future civil war if nothing is done promptly. “This is a national security crisis and threat.”
From preliminary investigation, Colonel Sudue disclosed and corroborated Senator Marshall’s earlier claim that some of the Burkinabes were brought into the county to do farming by citizens of that county, and in return, were rewarded with acres of land.
Speaking immediately after the presentation, the author of the communication that prompted the hearing, Senator Dennis intimated that besides the invasion of the Burkinabes, there is an existence of intra-community disputes in Gbarzon Statutory District, which is the epicenter of the migrants’ occupation, regarding land ownership, which is yet to be resolved by the Forestry Development Authority.
Senator Dennis recalled that citizens of the County on many occasions arrested the Mossi farmers and brought them to the local government authorities, “but days later they are released and they are back to the forest. We are sitting on a time bomb.”
The other Grand Gedeh Senator, Alphonso Gaye, told the joint security team that “if I were President Weah today I would have fired all of you people for negligence of duty, for not being proactive, for being complacent.”
Senator Gaye was reacting to Inspector General Sudue’s lament that part of the security’s inability to rid the county of illegal migrants from the sub-region is due to the fact that some of the illegal migrants are always protected by the Krahns of the county.
“The country is under attack, because the people are not infiltrating, they have settled, taken land and we are giving all these excuses,” Senator Gaye retorted. “Maybe a new set of people [should] come in that will be more vigilant to address the problem. I am telling you, if you are myopic, one morning you will get up to the news that people in the forest have set up their government. If you are not able [to do] the job, resign.”
Meanwhile, Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County has requested that the Senate mandates its leadership to invite the leadership of the House of Representatives for a leadership meeting. “The joint leadership of the national legislature can invite the national security apparatus, including the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, National Defense for an emergency meeting.”
Senator Brown then requested the joint security team to present a budgeted plan on how to bring the current crisis to a halt.