Fulanis in Liberia Raise Concern over Attacks and Threats on Their Lives and Businesses

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MONROVIA – The Fula Community in Liberia has sounded a caveat against what it terms as “unjustifiable threats and attacks” on the lives and businesses of scores of its members across the country by “hooligans”.

In a statement issued in Monrovia on Thursday, May 27, the group condemned the recent vandalizing of businesses and brutal attacks on some of its kinsmen in Grand Gedeh County.

It can be recalled that a violent clash on May 18 erupted between some members of the Fula and Krahn communities in Zwedru over the death of a resident.

The incident which led to the looting of scores of businesses owned by Fula nationals, and the disruption of check points and setting of road blocks, among others was triggered when the victim reportedly died barely few days after he got in a fistfight with an unidentified Fulani for allegedly refusing to pay the exact amount for a commodity he went to purchase.

But the Fula Community, in the statement, clarified that the fight between the Fula businessman and the victim occurred since April 9, 2021.

The statement issued was signed by the Fula Governor, Fulani United of Liberia, Fula Business Association, Federation of Fula Students of Liberia (FFUSOL), and Tabital Pulaaku (International) Liberia.

Reading the statement on behalf of the group at a news conference in Monrovia, a Board Member of the Fulani United of Liberia, Sheik Y. Jalloh, maintained that the Liberia National Police (LNP) took jurisdiction of the matter and as part of the police investigation, the Fula national involved was arrested, investigated and “incarcerated for a lengthy period”.

He noted that the Fula Community also took full responsibility of the victim’s medical expenses, adding that, “the victim was treated at the hospital of his choice”.

Jalloh added that upon completing his treatment, the deceased was discharged by a competent physician whose professional opinion, backed by the requisite tests, shows that the victim was fit to be discharged, with a warning to abstain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

“Most importantly, there was no report from the hospital that linked the cause of death to the physical fight between the victim and our kinsman; therefore, the victim’s demise should in no way be tied to the fight that occurred a long time ago. The proper thing to do will be to launch a full-scale investigation, which includes an autopsy, to determine the cause of death, instead of making insinuations and violently acting solely on what is perceived”.

Premeditated

Jalloh emphasized that the decision taken by “hooligans” to vandalize and loot the businesses and properties of their fellow kinsmen following the incident was “premeditated”.

“We see the attack on our fellow kinsmen in Grand Gedeh as a premeditated act, intended to frustrate Fula businessmen who have struggled for years to earn their living. We are a peace-loving tribe that is not noted for instigating brutality; hence, we do not understand why our kinsmen are being subjected to targeted wave of brutal attacks”.

Call for probe

“We hereby call on the administration of President George M. Weah, through the Ministry of Justice and all authorities concerned, to launch an immediate investigation into the recent violence. It is our kindest expectation that the instigators of these acts of violence will be swiftly brought to Justice”.

Jalloh noted that the Community was informed that the attacks were instigated as a result of the death of a Grand Gedean and allegations linking the cause of death to a fight between the victim and a Fula businessman on April 9, 2021.

He stated that the loss of any human life is a tragedy, especially in this specific case, given the circumstance surrounding his death and as such, the Fula Community extends sincerest sympathy to his family and friends.

He stated that it is “unthinkable” that an allegation against a single individual will be used as a “trump card to haunt our entire community”.

“We therefore call on the government to take siege of this matter before it spirals beyond containment, and the best way to do so is to bring the perpetrators to book through the due process of the law”.

Liberia is our home

Jalloh pointed out that despite the incident, Liberian remains a home to vast majority of Fulanis.

He wondered while others will continue to label Fulanis residing and doing businesses in Liberia as foreigners, even though they continue to make immense contributions towards the growth and development of the country’s economy and remain supportive to other sectors or areas.

“For many of us, Liberia is our home; we have nowhere to go. That is why we do our utmost best to contribute immensely to the peace and economic growth of this beloved land of liberty. Haunting and branding us as “foreigners” will only fuel a civil tension in our motherland, which is dangerous for our peace, stability and democracy”.

 While we are very peaceful, he added, that Fulanis also have the right to self-defense, noting that, “we are being pushed beyond bounds to counter-act, as this is not the first instance of unjust violence against our people and businesses”.

Normal routine?

He recalled that there has been an instance in Grand Gedeh where a Fulani was also beaten to death on the orders of an individual, who bragged to defend the culprits at any level, and the matter was allegedly watered down, with the government doing nothing about it.

Jalloh emphasized that “it is even more saddening that the violence against us in Grand Gedeh has started spreading like wildfire to other parts of the country”.

According to him, a Fulani business woman nearly fall victim to an attack in Sinoe County; and threats of instigating violence against the entire Fula community in that part of the country again were sounded.

The Caveat

Let this therefore serve as a caveat, we are done sitting back and watching our people face unjustifiable danger while our businesses get damaged by hooligans”.

Jalloh pointed out that though a lot of brutal incidents have occurred in Liberia in recent times, no tribe has been “singled out for retribution”.

“Recently, angry residents in Maryland County haunted a man for allegedly killing a student for ritualistic purpose. They went to the extent of burning down the LNP station and the Speaker’s house. They also broke into the prison center, letting almost all the inmates out, but no one haunted a Kru or Grebo man. Also, in October 2020 four auditors were found dead and people pointed fingers at some individuals as alleged perpetrators, but no one haunted them on a tribal basis. The million-dollar unanswered question is, “Why should the entire Fula community be haunted for the alleged crime of a single Fulani, when the same does not apply to other tribes?”.

He indicated that though the Fula Community in Liberia remains grateful to government for taking the first step to calm down the situation in Grand Gedeh, the group is still looking forward for the completion of an investigation that will identify and bring the instigators of the violent act to book.

 “A decisive action by the government in this case will serve as a deterrent to others who see violence as the only means of resolving conflict, and will jumpstart a process that will lead to the reduction of unjust targeted violence against us”.

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