Liberia: No Arrest Yet in Ganta Arson Attack

Mamos Media

By Joaquin M. Sendolo

Fred Suah: “Violence may take place in Ganta if the government does not take steps.”

Police authorities have told the Daily Observer that they are yet to arrest any suspect in the recent arson attack on a warehouse in the commercial city of Ganta, Nimba County, where huge quantities of goods were destroyed.

Police spokesperson Moses Carter told this paper on April 25, 2021, that since the attack took place on April 20, following an eviction exercise carried out a day earlier, the police has not arrested any suspect.

According to Carter, the police is still investigating to gather evidence and those behind the attack and the public can have the assurance that those culprits will be brought to justice.

On the day of the eviction exercise, Mike Jabateh took to social media to issue threats on behalf of his Mandingo ethnic group, against Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, for allegedly allowing Fred Suah, a member of the Mano tribe, to claim land that he (Jabateh) says belongs to the Mandingos.  Jabateh, in the video post, rained insults on Chief Justice Korkpor and said, “We Mandingo will revenge… Watch out.”

On April 20, residents of Ganta woke up in bewilderment to the sight of a warehouse near the disputed area on fire, leaving marketeers and students to abandon their respective commercial and learning activities to seek refuge at home in avoidance of potential harm in case of any eventuality.

On the day of the arson attack, Jabateh went live on Facebook and threatened that if any Mandingo man is touched in Ganta, the rest of the Mandingo people will sacrifice their lives to go into battle with the attacker. 

Mike Jabateh, who was in dressed in military fatigues (camouflage) when he made the threatening remarks, has not been arrested or interrogated; however, Police spokesperson Moses Carter said Jabateh has been invited to the Police Headquarters to face interrogation and is expected to appear there today.

Meanwhile, Fred Suah, the other party at the center of the land crisis opposite the Donzoe and Jabateh families, has told the Daily Observer that there is a high possibility of violence breaking out in Ganta at any time if the government fails to put in place mechanisms to avert the situation.

In an interview on Saturday, April 24, Mr. Suah said, “Since the eviction and the arson attack, many Mandingoes have been crossing from Guinea on trucks and coming to Ganta.  The number of Mandingos in Ganta has increased and you can see and feel violence breaking out.  Since this thing happened and the warehouse was burned down with people’s goods destroyed, the police have not made any arrest and the suspects are free passing around, especially Jabateh, who made threatening remarks against the Chief Justice.”

According to Suah, he lives under threat now and his children can hardly move about in peace.  “Though I am not afraid, I feel threatened because when I go near the disputed area, I see a large group of them there and they can be attempting to come to my vehicle with the intent of attacking me.”

In spite of effort exerted to identify some of those affected in the arson attack, the Daily Observer is yet to get any.  However, Suah said those affected in the attack are equally discontented and in total bewilderment as to what becomes of their goods that were destroyed.

This warehouse in Ganta was burnt to the ground 24 hours after an eviction order was executed on the Jabateh and Donzo families, parties to a land dispute that lasted 10 years.

According to Suah, the huge presence of members of the Mandingo tribe in Ganta has sparked concerns among the Manos and Gios who encountered conflict with Jabateh’s tribe during the 14-year civil war.  It may be recalled that since the mutual relation between the Mano-Gio on the one hand and the Mandingoes, on the other hand, broke apart during the war, the two conflicting groups have not had genuine reconciliation. 

The Mano and Gio groups hold the belief that the Mandingoes under LURD rebels in 2003 captured Ganta on March 29 and destroyed their properties.  After recapturing the city on June 30 of that year, the Manos and Gios decided to reclaim all parcels of land the Mandingoes once dwelt on before the war, arguing that they were squatters and did not have title deeds to the land they once occupied.

Land conflict has therefore remained a sticky point to achieving peace in Nimba between the Mandingoes and the Gio-Mano group.

With the prevailing situation now, Fred Suah has informed the Daily Observer that those of the Gio and Mano groups are equally watching the situation and preparing for any eventuality, referencing the 2003 war as a case study not to remain absent-minded to be taken by surprise.

“The Gio and Mano boys and men here too are also preparing.  They say they do not want to be taken by surprise as it happened in 2003, and if the government does not put things in place to ensure that there is justice and people responsible for the attack are held accountable, they too will not sit to see others attacking them and their properties,” Suah said.

However, Ganta City Mayor Amos Suah dispelled any plan of attack on the part of the Mandingo group.  According to Mayor Suah, state security forces, including the Armed Forces of Liberia, are deployed in Ganta and he is sure that no one can carry out any attack.

Source Daily Observer.

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