Fomba Toure, a Liberian based in the United States of America fear returning home for what he referred to as “an unconfined country still fully engulfed by hate, witch-hunting, tribal and religious segregations, among others.”
Toure traveled to the U.S. in March, 1999, through the diversity lottery (DV) program and has not returned back to Liberia, more so haven gone through series of horrible war experiences in his home County of Nimba.
“I hailed from Nimba, the North-eastern part of Liberia and I have suffered so much in the hands of the through the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), former President Charles Taylor’s rebel faction.
“They almost killed me and promised to get rid of my entire family, not because I committed any crime except that I am a Mandingos man ( a member tribe of one of the sixteen ethnic tribes of the Liberia), he narrated to the Daily Observer recently via an online interview.
Toure added that the ordeal he was made to go through and the many threats on his life and those of his family members by people he considered his own friends, brothers and sisters has kept a great nightmare before him and fear that returning to Liberia would be all too costly.
“I love my country of origin but America has given me so much peace, comfort and many opportunities. Here is not heaven but I am guaranteed more and better safety than when I am in Liberia,” Toure said.
According to him, his children’s safety in Liberia cannot be guaranteed unless there is a restoration of justice for all, regardless of whatever status one may have or be a part of.
He reiterated that he committed no crime except that he had to protect his family from the vicious and malicious attacks from both his fellow military men and the rebel factions.
“I was a member of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia. I was a military police (MP) and our job was to manage the civil actions of our men and women in uniform and coordinate with the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the civilians on ensuring that we had a peaceful country but when the war entered, there was no pick and choose.
“We were all targeted as former armed men under the command of slain President Samuel K. Doe’s ruthless men. Many forgot to know that our own friends then within the army even came after some of us because Alhaji G.V. Kromah, a Mandingo man, led a rebel faction in the 1990s war,” Toure narrated.
He further recalled that his properties were seized and most of his friends were driven away from their home town through threats on their lives and such situation makes it more scaring for him to return home.
There has been land conflicts and the Mandingos, being the minority have at all times complained that they were marginalized and denied their constitution the land they owned for many years, even before the war.The Liberian civil war was brutal and extremely terrible. Factions multiplied in short time and the war became sectional, tribal, regional and at some point in time religious-related.
“These memories still scare some of us. Imagine people fighting against each other because they are not of the same religion. What is the crime in being a Muslim or a Christian? I can’t just figure the logic in that but this was one of the means through which people killed each other in Liberia,” Toure recounted.
He made reference to the 2003 incident in Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia when people took weapons against each other and stood up as Muslims and Christians running after each others’ lives.
“At that time I was not there but I saw everything. They burnt mosques and the other group too burnt Churches. People were brutally treated and some even died, even though there was the first batch of the Peace Keeping Force of ECOWAS (ECOMIL).
ECOMIL was the ECOWAS Mission in Liberia which was later taken over by the UN and several military men and women from other countries around the world joined to help safe Liberia from further carnage and total collapse.
About what Toure wants to see or hear before his visit his place of birth and by extension, encourage his children to follow suit, he said it will be good if the rule of law is firm and uncompromising and that justice is served all, regardless of position or status.
Toure’s ex-wife, Kebbeh Kerkula confided in this paper that she too, although hail from Lofa, the northern region of Liberia and speaks Kpelleh, the tribe with more of Liberia’s population than any other tribe, she was nearly killed at some point in time because she was Toure’s wife.
“Nothing else they could tell me but that I was married to a Mandingos man. That was the only crime levied against me and they nearly ended my life. I was tortured but as God could have it, I got saved by one of the NPFL men who saw that there was reason for me to be killed,” Madam Kerkula told the Daily Observer upon one of her visits to Liberia.
Saye Belleh, a resident of Tapita, Nimba County, said his County has many wounds yet to be healed, even though there no more bullets as they were in the 1990s.
“I tell you the truth, even Prince Johnson, the man who is hailed by many around here in Nimba, has done much harm to his own people than good. Prince killed many Gios and Manos (two leading tribal groups in Nimba). Properties were destroyed because of the foolish war and people’s hopes were dashed as many others lost their lives,” Belleh said in a phone-in interview.
He said a regional conference is needed to reconcile the tribes, including the Gios, Manos, Mandingoes and even the Krahn people in the South-east.
“People are just tired of war due to the bitter lessons learned from the foolish wars we fought in this country but by now, we had gone back to war with each other. It is true that the Mandingos people lost their land to the other tribes by compulsion and the matter was taken to the ECOWAS Court. They actually won the case but whatever our government is doing to get things under control, is yet to be known,” he said.
There have been a series of mysterious deaths in Liberia even when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was President but no redress ever came to help allay the fear of the people who live in the country.
Michael Allison, a whistle blower was found dead on the beach behind the Foreign Affairs Ministry where President Sirleaf spent almost all of her 12 years in office and Harry Greaves, a staunch critic of Madam Sirleaf and employee of her government (head then) at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC) was also murdered but there came no suspect neither a prosecution after an autopsy.
While in opposition, football legend, George Weah frowned on former President Sirleaf for not providing equal access to security for all citizens and the many other residents but under his regime too, several deaths, mysterious in nature have taken place in two years of his Presidency but, with no generally accepted redress to each of the incidents.
When the alleged missing L$16 billion saga came out, and protests were held, lots of mysterious things occurred, too.
Matthew Innis, an executive then at the Central Bank of Liberia was killed by a speeding vehicle and in less than three days, a driver at the same Central Bank allegedly died in another accident along the Lofa-Bong Counties road.
Recently, three prominent staff at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) died mysterious deaths.
Gifty Asmah Lamah and Albert Peters were found dead in a vehicle belonging to Peters on Broad Street in Monrovia and in two days after their deaths, Joseph Fahnboto of the same LRA, also allegedly died in an accident.Following the deaths of the three, the Executive Director of the Internal Audit Agency, (IAA), Emmanuel Nyeswa, also died mysteriously.
Investigations conducted and reports released by the Ministry of Justice said there was no foul play in each of the deaths of the top Liberian professionals but the public rejected the reports and termed them as biased and completely unfair to the tenets of democracy.