Porous Borders, Illegal Entry: Lofa County Faces Challenges

Lofa County – The shortage of manpower from the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization or BIN and the Liberia National Police is said to be a major contributing factor to the increase in the number of aliens entering Liberia daily through the many porous borders with neighboring countries.

Lofa County, the largest County in Northern Liberia that shares common borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone is facing serious challenges according to security officers assigned at the borders.

Currently, Lofa County has more than five legal entry points with Guinea and Sierra Leone and over nine illegal entries with the two countries.

The BIN officers at the Lawalazu Gate in Voinjama District, Lofa County told FrontPageAfrica during a recent visit to the county that aliens are entering Liberia on a daily basis without proper travel documents.

Though illegal entry into the country is not tolerated under the law of Liberia, citizens from both Guinea and Liberia commute across the borders to do business.

The Lawalazu crossing point with Guinea is normally busy on Mondays where traders from Liberia cross over to the Guinean Town of Kloduba, as every Monday is general market day.

Liberian traders cross over the Lawalazu border into Guinea through a little village call Jallahmai using canoe to buy their goods and cross back to Liberia through the same process.

Immigration officers at the Lawalazu entry point say they are finding it difficult to distinguish between the Liberian traders from that of the Guineans, as citizens of the both countries crossing to and fro speak the same dialect, Mandingo, Lorma, Kpelle, Gbandi and Kissi.

The BIN officer told FPA that limited manpower at Lawalazu checkpoint is a contributing factor for the influx of aliens into Voinjama, the capital of Lofa County.

There are only nine (9) BIN and three (3) Police officers assigned at the checkpoint. Captain Sewoe Kromah of the BIN confirmed the limited manpower at the checkpoint.

He disclosed that most officers who are not from Lofa normally leave their duties and take vacation to see their relatives in their counties of origin, something he said creates more gaps for the BIN at the checkpoint.

“My brother it is hard to say, most of the officers our authority send here are not from Lofa County, and when it is time for them to see their families in their various counties, the gaps are left opened to us, and only we that hail from here can remain at the gate to continue the job,” he noted.

It is also reported that most BIN officers assigned at borders points are sent by individual senior officers from Monrovia to represent their (Senior BIN Officers) interests, and those junior officers allegedly to their superior officers who assign them from Monrovia and not the senior officers on the ground.

The County Attorney of Lofa County, Cllr. Luther J. Sumo also confirmed the porous nature of the borders in Lofa County describing it as an old age thing not only restricted to Lofa County.

“For the border situation is an old age problem, the border is not closed with Guinea and Sierra Leone, we all know that we have a porous border with Guinea and Sierra Leone, what do I mean?

 You can walk from here in certain part of Lofa and enter into Guinea without seeing any officer, from one village to another village from Liberia you can enter into Guinea, don’t be surprise when you enter in that village in Guinea, you will hear people speaking Lorma or Kissi as in Liberia so it puts the security in a difficult situation to know the aliens from Liberia,” he explained.

Cllr. Sumo as well disclosed that security officers are not found at various smaller border points.

“Only the main entries we have security as we speak, it is a challenge before the arrival of UNMIL and is still a challenge even with the departure of UNMIL.” he noted.

He however said the state is prepared to take over security from UNMIL when the UN Mission departs.

The uncontrollable influx of aliens into Liberia is said to be alarming to attract the attention of immigration authorities in the country.

Hundreds of non-Liberians are currently residing in the country and many have entered illegally either through unmanned border points or other means at official ports of entry.

The scaring situation of the illegal entries into Liberia by aliens is said to be on the increase in many other counties.

Edwin G. Genoway, Jr – edwin.genoway@frontpageonline.com

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