Liberia: Police Send 3 to Court for Shooting Incident

Headquarters of the Liberia National Police.  

The Nimba County Detachment of the Liberia National Police has charged three persons with murder, criminal conspiracy, theft and criminal facilitation.

The three are being charged for the recent shooting incident between Bah Town and Gboutuo communities in Nimba that resulted in the death of one person and five injuries.

According to the Crime Services Department (CSD), after carrying out careful interrogation involving a cross section of citizens from the communities, the three men were held liable for the death of one Solomon Gaye and those who were wounded.

The CSD named those charged and sent to court as Emmanuel Kollie Wongbah, Jimmy Zorh and Oldpa Zorh, all of whom hail from Gboutuo, Gblor Gbeah Clan in Nimba County District #6, while all the victims are from the Bah Town in the Kparblee Administrative District.

The Crime Services Department told the Daily Observer that Emmanuel Kollie Wongbah was charged with murder, because he was identified by one the victims (identified only as Philip) of carrying on the shooting of Solomon Gaye. The other two men were charged with Criminal attempt to commit murder, criminal conspiracy and theft, respectively.

When asked why only three men were charged, “They had no alternative, but to charge them and continue the investigation.” The CSD said nearly all the injured persons came from Bah Town, with no injured person to be identified from the Gboutuo side.

“What we've gathered from our investigation indicated that firing took place in a graveyard of Bah between 22hr to 21hr on November 16,” said chief investigator, Oscar Sayeh.

There has been a long-standing land conflict between two communities long ago, with citizens of Gbuutuo claiming that the land Bah Town situated belongs to them. In the ensuing conflict, the local authority, headed by Inspector Mark Gblinwon, was expected there in two days' time, when unfortunately the conflict erupted.

But, according to Inspector Gblinwon and a man claiming to be spokesperson of Kparblee, n a local radio station that the recent conflict started after a citizen of} noah Town, who is also believed to be a local ranger, Sylvester Bah, 1 seized two bags of snail from a hunter from Gboutuo for violat8hd and entering the national park.

When he seized the snail, he turned it over to the town chief and the town chief also called on the zone chief and turned the snails, allowing the hunter to go.

Upon the return of this hunter to their town, Gboutuo, they also set up a roadblock and arrested one Philip, a hunter from Bah Town, who was returning from hunting.  The citizens of Gboutuo, in retaliation for seizing the snails, seized the animal killed by the Bah town hunter and also allowed him to access his hometown.

The Inspector explained that, as the night had fallen, tension began to build up between the two communities, leaving the town chief of Bah Town to inform the Zone chief in Zodru that the citizens of Gboutuo were grouping to attack Bah Town. The message or news prompted the late Solomon Gaye, who was the head of the Community Watch Forum in the community to rush to Bah Town to put the situation under control.

According to both Gblinwon and Gaylah, when Solomon Gaye arrived, the group from Gboutuo were almost in Bah Town, shooting and in the process. Solomon went ahead, calling on them to stop the shooting, waving his hands up and shutting, unfortunately, he was shut in his chest, while his hands were still in the air and he fell.

The late Solomon Gaye was very known  for playing football across the conflicting community according to Mr. Gblinwon and he was always willing to perform his task as head of the Community Watch Forum. 

“Being a popular fellow in the community, when he heard about the conflict he decided to rush in the scene to bring the situation, because he felt that both the citizens of opposing side would have listened to him,” said Gblinwon in a low voice. 

Police named some of those who sustained injury from bullet wounds as Philips, Nelson Paye, Solomon and others to be identified, all of whom are said to be citizens of Bah Town. An American-funded NGO, PROSPER did an intervention in 2014 and demarcated the land, and formed a boundary with laying of cornerstone between Bah Town Gboutuo.

The influx of Burkinabe as contract workers within the Kparblee Administrative District is also brewing land conflict within the district with many in adjacent towns or districts do not like the idea. In the contract deal, if a Burkinabe is given 50 acres of land for cultivation, upon cultivation when the crops tech to the point of harvest, the 50 acres will be divided among 50/50 between the land owner and the contract.

In this case, most of the citizens are given land to the Burkinabe in huge acreage of land to the Burkinabe. This system has been going on in the Ivory Coast for decades and it is gradually crossing over to Liberia, especially counties bordering Ivory Coast. 

It was alleged that some years back there were reported clashes between the Burkinabe and Yacoubah(Dan) in the Mah Region of Ivory Coast where the Burkinabe were driven.