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ECOWAS Parliament detests extortion at borders

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A high-level fact-finding delegation from the ECOWAS Parliament is calling on border security forces along the Liberian-Guinean borders to stop continuous harassment of peaceful citizens and traders moving in and out. The call was made over the weekend when the ECOWAS Parliament sensitization and  fact-finding mission paid a working visit at the Liberian-Guinean border.

The mission provides border securities between the two sisterly countries  opportunity to explain problems they face with each other. The forum brought together joint security forces from both countries, including  their respective citizens, Ambassadors, and ECOWAS executives, among others Liberian immigration personnel Lt./Col. Louis Dennis, Ganta Detail Commander for the  Liberian Imagination Services or LIS explains that citizens, including travelers and  marketers from the Liberian side of the border usually complain of difficulty they
face at hand of Guinean border securities, who deny them access to free movement  inside Guinea despite displaying all relevant traveling documents.

Lt./Col. Dennis explains to the ECOWAS delegation during an hour’s long meeting on  the Liberian side of the border that their Guinean counterparts usually disregard  traveling documents from Liberia, harassing peaceful citizens crossing into that  country.

She discloses that even marketers from Liberia complain daily about being harassed  by Guinean border guards.
But Guinean border securities say they face similar complain from Guinean coming into Liberia and returning home, lamenting of harassment at the hands of Liberian border securities.

The head for the Guinean immigration forces Diallo Mammadou, notes that both  countries have citizens with common tribes, languages and tradition, including  intermarriages. He explains that even former Liberian refugees in Guinea desirous of coming back  home, will go to the Liberian Embassy in Conakry to obtain get their proper  documents, but the process will last for three months after which they will be  allowed to move about freely.

The Guinean immigration boss however notes not all travelers, including marketers  citizens are saying the truth.
The fact-finding mission began at Bo Waterside near the Liberian-Sierra Leonean  border in Grand Cape County on the Liberian side of the border and ended at the  Liberian-Guinean border in Ganta City, Nimba County inside Liberia.

Members of the delegation were unable to say who were saying the truth as the  accusations came from both sides of the borders. Some marketers from Ganta, Nimba County accused the Guinean securities that on a  daily basis they have been harassed by the Guineans.  Madam Kemah Yini narrates that for them to even get goods from Guinea, it is very  difficult, lamenting that they pay more money to Guinean border securities to allow  them cross into Liberia, including hiking the exchange rates between the Guinean  francs and the Liberian dollars.

Prior to the fact-finding mission to the border, there had been complaint by  marketers from Liberia that every Thursday, which is Balla Market Day inside Guinea,  they are forced to pay not less than a thousand Liberian dollars to cross into  Liberia with goods.

They explain on the Guinean side of the border are four gates, including the dreaded  Lion Gate where huge cash are extorted from them before they are given access into  Guinea. They want all ECOWAS traveling documents respected by border securities in the  subregion to ensure free movement of goods and people.

Ambassadors from both Liberia and Guinea, including Parliamentary member Senator  Prince Yormie Johnson of Liberia, who is an executive of ECOWAS Parliament, Amara  Jabeth Head of Guinean Transport graced the occasion.

ECOWAS Speaker Mustapha Cisse’lo thanks border guards from both countries for their  hard work at the borders. Speaker Cisse’lo assures that ECOWAS will conduct sensitization on the need to  respect traveling documents from member countries.

He encourages cross border traders move about freely, but to do the right thing,  warning that marketers are not to travel with contrabands. Cisse’lo also calls joint securities deployed at the borders to stop the alleged  extortion of money from travelers and marketers from both sides of the borders. He stresses the need to promote free movement of people and goods geared towards  regional integration and peace.

By Thomas Domah/Nimba–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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