Liberia: Man, 29, Nabbed with Several Firearms at Liberia-Guinea Border Amid Rising Tribal Conflict in Ganta


Ganta, Nimba County – Police in Ganta Nimba County have arrested a 29-year-old man with huge arms at the Ganta-Guinea border amid a rising tribal conflict over a disputed land dispute case between Ganta resident Fred Suah and four family members of the Mandingo ethnic group.

Suspect Layee Zazay was also arrested with 120 rounds of single barrel gun and 20 single barrel pastols in his bag while on board a motorbike at the entrance of the Liberia-Guinea border.

Zazay didn’t say where he was traveling, but according to the commander of the Liberia Immigration Service, Archie Dennis, Zazay reportedly attempted bribing his way through the border before being arrested.

The 29-year-old is being investigated by police in Ganta, according to police sources.

The arrest of suspect Zazay has created panic among residents of the city amid a rising tribal conflict between members of the Mandingo ethnic group and a resident of Ganta, Fred Suah over a long-standing land dispute in which the Circuit Court in the county ruled in his favor last week.

The arrest of Zazay also comes in the wake of a recent statement by a prominent Mandingo activist Mike Jebateh that they would go after Chief Justice Francis Kporkpor if any member of his kinsmen was attacked in the ongoing tribal conflict in Ganta.

Unending land dispute cases in Nimba 

Several attempts have been made to resolve land dispute ca goses in the county, but none has yielded any significant final result. 

In 2008, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Swiss based organization, Inter-peace, launched a project aimed at supporting reconciliation in Nimba County in order to contribute to the process of sustaining peace in Liberia.

The project recommendations in its report that the previous government of former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf addressed the: 

“(1) urgent and more explosive land disputes as recommended by the Ad-Hoc Presidential Commission on Nimba (2) develop a sound policy framework for the development of a community-based mediation capacity and (3) promote political inclusion of Mandingoes, among others.

The work of the Ad-Hoc Presidential Commission on Nimba chaired by businessman and politician, Musa Bility and membered by religious, tribal and local leaders did little to savage the situation.

The Special Presidential Nimba Land Commission was set up Johnson-Sirleaf. 

The commission included all lawmakers from the county at the time as well as other prominent citizens.

On June 30, 2010, the commission presented its report to the President. In it, it recommended that government provided one million dollars as compensation to people illegally occupying people’s properties.

While many condemned the recommendation as compensation for wrong acts, others saw it as a fine way to resolve the dispute.

So, the former president endorsed the recommendation. Some monies were disbursed and payments were made to some illegal-occupiers; yet some refused to leave.

So, they occupy people’s land, received payment from government, but still refused to vacate.

In any case, no arrest was made. No charges were brought on people that received payment but refused to vacate, and no eviction order was issued by the court. Only an injunction was placed.

For those who had a piece of hope that they would soon receive their properties after the payment, hope soon vanished as people defied government and went scot-free.

A 2010 report by FrontPageAfrica quotes Bility as urging people of Nimba to do all they could to support the process; saying “It was not about winners or losers; it was about reconciliation.

The Commission did not look for who was right or wrong; it was meant to reconcile the people and bring peace.”

People in Nimba remain unreconciled as a result of the land dispute. Even former Pres. Sirleaf herself admitted to this challenge.

“The land dispute in Nimba has dragged on for too long, sometimes creating constraint for some of the things we want to do.

Peace cannot be legislated. Peace cannot be commanded. Peace has to come from inside oneself and their willingness to accept things; to mediate, to collaborate; to reconcile, to compromise.”