Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, an advocate for economy and social justice for 40yrs, which earned her the presidency of war torn Liberia that saw the deaths of over 250k Liberians in a senseless civil war, continues to play shenanigans with peace and reconciliation by cunningly manipulating disputes amongst the Liberian people to accumulate political gains. One of such disputes is the Nimba land conflict.
Such a dangerous behavior by a leader, who should be under the moral obligation to reconcile the Country, has the propensity of starting a new crisis which we don’t believe is the way forward in any shape or form. But remember the old adage: When the monkey is jammed, it eats pepper. At the end of the civil war that Madam Sirleaf admitted to donating $10k to fuel the NPFL war machine that unleashed undiluted evils and mayhems on Liberians and foreigners alike; witnessed the occupation of peaceful Nimbaians’ properties by war migrants and squatters who considered themselves victors of the war and outlaws. These war migrants and outlaws aren’t only squatting on the properties in question, but leasing said properties for monetary gains in flagrant disregard for the rules of law.
To add insults to injuries; a tribal bigot called Cllr. Emery Paye with no moral and ethical standard regarding the rules of law that was removed as a circuit judge in Nimba due to his notoriety apropos the land cases; got reappointed to the same position, and he used his office during his second stint to enhance tribal bigotry by allowing the squatters and outlaws to make replicas of the property deeds presented to his court by the original land owners.
Those replica land deeds were back dated by the opposing parties in an attempt to make their cases stronger. It was even said that a high profile member of the Supreme Court threw-in Cllr. Paye as a monkey wrench to perpetuate lawlessness in the context of tribalism. As Madam Sirleaf is not really passionate about the rules of law which is evidenced by her inaction regarding corruptions by public officials that are well documented by anti graft agencies and her interference with the work of former Justice Minister Christiana Tah etc; opted to constitute the Special Presidential Land Commission headed by Honorable Musa Bility as Chairman, Minister Harrison Kanweah, Minister Marcus Dahn, Senator Prince Johnson, Senator Adolphus Dolo and et’al to deal with the land conflict in vote rich Nimba than strengthening the courts. However, when the Land Commission was at the concluding stages to submit her findings in 2009, Madam Sirleaf as one of the best manipulative leaders Liberia has ever seen, in an attempt to undermine the Commission for her personal aggrandizement, rolled to Ganta with the sole intent to declare eminent domain of 2.5 acres of land belonging to 16 Mandingo families in the center of Ganta to appease some Manos and Gios in desperation of vote grabs in Nimba.
But when she was almost in Ganta to execute her nefarious intent, the Commission made all frantic efforts to get to her and asked her not to jeopardize the Commission’s efforts and exacerbate the land conflict. Meanwhile, the Commission recommended settlements for the squatters and outlaws referenced as respondents, and at the same time recommended prosecutions for Nyan Johnny, Fred Suah, Saye Papa, Amos Mahn, Melvin Guanu and et’al because of their notorious roles in the land disputes. Until now, no prosecutorial actions have been brought against the names mentioned supra. As per the Land Commission’s recommendations, the Madam Sirleaf’s Administration borrowed $1.2m from Liberia Peace Fund through United Nation Development Program (UNDP) and signed “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) with the squatters and outlaws as respondents to resolve the land conflict, but the Administration failed to implement the MOU after paying the squatters and outlaws off, which is a lack of political will on the part of Madam Sirleaf’s Administration that has lost reasoning and is beclouded by vote grabs in Nimba. Accordingly, the MOU forwarded to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) indicated that if a respondent received payment and refused to leave after thirty days, the MOJ will evict that respondent with immediate effects, but that is yet to come to fruition. In fact, some of the respondents used payments received to develop the properties they occupy. What a provocation and complete absurdity! This kind of provocation only puts all of us on the edge thinking about an impending crisis because people rights are being trampled upon, and the Foreign Ministry continues to exploit the situation.
This is very sad for Liberia since someone like Madam Sirleaf as one of those behind the civil war could have redeemed herself by fostering peace and reconciliation but elected to be vindictive and vicious. Madam Sirleaf must be reminded that if other people didn’t stand up to bloodthirsty Charles Taylor, she couldn’t have gotten the opportunity to become a president.
Therefore, the spirit of standing up against injustice is still alive, but we believe that there is still a widow of opportunity for Nimbaians to resolve this land conflict the Nimba way, wherein politicians shouldn’t be allowed to harness our disputes to make gains. In doing so, we have to encourage those that are from lower Nimba to leave the Mandingo people properties and return home or try to acquire their own properties through legal means. This is in the best interest of the new entrepreneurs that have emerged out of the civil war from Nimba and Nimba County. To conclude, my advice to all Nimbaians is the maintenance of peace and abstaining from seeking crisis because Nimba’s population has become a huge asset, which we think should continue to grow in Nimba.
“Nimba should be repackaged and should not be known as a war-like county. Nimba shouldn't be known as an area where rebels come from.”—Hon. Younquoi—
Alpha D. Jabateh, Pennsylvania