On Tuesday, April 20, 2010 President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issued a serious warning against groups of individuals in Nimba County that are planning to disrupt this year’s Independence Day Celebration scheduled to be held in that part of the country. The President’s warning follows a letter, which she said, had been written by one of the parties to the pro-longed land dispute in Nimba.
“There are some citizen groups that wrote us and say that they will disturb the Independence Day celebration if they don’t get their land, let them try it. We are not going to allow it. We will have the Independence Day in Nimba. No one will disturb it. We have heard that it will cause lot of money to resolve the land cases, we have heard that and we will see how to get the resources so we can bring this matter to an end.” She said.
Since the end of the civil war, there had been a worrisome land dispute between Mandingos on one hand, and Manos and Gios on the other hand in Nimba County. Several clashes between the two camps rendered the city of Ganta unlivable for days in 2007. To put an end to the trouble, a committee comprising of permanent citizens of the county, was set up in 2007 to probe into the case. The Nimba land dispute case has been under a committee, headed by businessman, Musa Bility, with representative groups from all over different areas in Nimba. They have met over the years trying to investigate those cases.
In fact, we have been told that the final report from the Bility’s Committee is due soon. That some citizens would still be bent on using violent means to settle their grievances should not only be a cause for concern to every peace loving Liberian, but it should be condemned in the strongest terms. The recent violent clashes in Lofa, that left the few decent structures in that part of the country destroyed, and the destruction in recent times of several police depots built through UNMIL quick impact projects are not only fresh on our minds, but continue to portray us as people not ready to use peaceful dialogue to settle their differences. This alone has the propensity to put donors off and make them to divert much needed structural funding elsewhere.
We, at the New Dawn, think it is a belated, but necessary warning. It is time to impose harsher punishments on those compatriots who only dream of violent means as the best way to settle conflict.
Unless an individual or group of individuals are severely punished to serve as an example for other like minded individual or group of individuals to see, we believe, this trend will continue for long time to come. It is time that justice is served on these blood thirsty individuals and that an example is made of them for the rest of us to enjoy our peace.