The National Commission on Small Arms has called on Liberians to celebrate Christopher Johnson of Bomi County for turning over an AK-47 rifle to the Liberia National Police (LNP) after finding the weapon hidden near a river.
According to Johnson, he found the gun, which was loaded on January 8, after he had gone fishing on the St. Paul River and thereafter took it to his Town Chief, who in return asked him to report the arm to the relevant authorities.
“When I reported the arm to the town Chief, many guys in the town came to me to buy it, but I didn’t see the reasons why they wanted to buy such an arm, especially when it is not used for hunting. The first thought that came to me was, they wanted to buy it and use it to harm or for armed robbery, so I rejected it,” Christopher informed the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs during a hearing this week.
The Committee is presided by River Gee County Senator Company B. Wesseh.
Attired in a long African traditional gown, Johnson further narrated that in the process, he was informed that there is an organization responsible for small arms, and he decided to search the internet for information.
In the process, he added that he came across Senator Company Wesseh, as head of the Small Arms Commission. Senator Wesseh previously served as Chairman of the National Commission on Small Arms.
Johnson noted that he decided to get in touch with Senator Wesseh, adding: “That is how I went to his residence in Monrovia, and when I got there, I was told he was going to his county (River Gee), and he told me to wait until he returned."
He recalled that, upon the Senator's return, they met and that's how the Senator linked him to the Small Arms Control Unit of the Liberia National Police, leading to him surrendering the arm to that authority.
In his presentation at the Senate, he made it clear that he did not present the arm to the LNP for reward or cash, but for the sake of peace.
Johnson added, “even though some people made me afraid that if I reported it, I could be arrested, I did it in good faith."
In response, the Chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, Atty. T. Maxwell Grigsby used the occasion to commend Johnson for his discovery and submission, adding that his effort is equated to Emmanuel Tuloe who is being celebrated by Liberians and the World at large for not keeping the US$50,000 he found at the side of the road, in Nimba County.
In the same vein, Commissioner Grigsby wants Liberians and the world to equally celebrate Christopher for presenting such a weapon to the proper authority, noting that “what he did is remarkable”.
The Chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms at the same time added that Christopher will form part of celebrations during the upcoming month of Amnesty, which is intended for citizens to voluntarily surrender arms.
“In the last few months, the Commission has been working with the Ministry of Justice to provide Amnesty for people who surrender firearms. The current law does not allow that, he said.
Also Speaking, the Commander of the Small Arms Control Unit of the Liberia National Police, Peter Weah, said that the unit was created to enforce laws, and control small arms and that the unit's mandate is to ensure that illegal weapons are turned over to the LNP and other relevant authorities.
He said the discovery and the submission of the ak-47 raffle by Christopher is a positive step for those in possession of illegal weapons or those who discover weapons.
In closing, Senator Wesseh commended Christopher for being an ambassador in the efforts of the Small Arms Commission to encourage Liberians to surrender firearms for the safety of the Liberian State.
He added that the Committee is currently working with the Commission for amendments to its Act.
Meanwhile, hearings on the Amendments to the Act of the commission continue today and, from the brief interactions during the initial meeting Wednesday, it looks certain that the Commission will soon carry a new name to be called: Liberia National Commission on Arms,” when the Senate committee makes its final report to plenary.