Contingents of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in River Gee County have arrested five Ghanaians in Martuaken, River Gbeh for economic sabotage and illegal entry into Liberia. The Ghanaians were also arrested last week over suspicion of illegally cutting chewing sticks in the Liberian forests along the border with neighboring Ivory Coast.
River Gee County Attorney Wesseh A. Wesseh told The NewDawn on Wednesday via mobile phone that arrangements were being made with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to transfer suspects Evans Obamu, Kwaku Asadu, Daniel Danso, Paul Marfo and John Mensah to Harper, Maryland County for prosecution.
“I’m arranging for their transfer to Harper. As I told you, the Ghanaians were arrested in Martuaken, River Gbeh by the AFL and they all have admitted to illegal entry and cutting of chewing sticks here,” said Attorney Wesseh.
Attorney Wesseh said the AFL contingents made the arrest after being tipped off by residents that the Ghanaians were constantly entering into the Liberian forests and illegally cutting down the chewing sticks for sale in neighboring countries. He could not however measure in cash value, how much chewing sticks the suspects may have allegedly sneaked out of the Liberian forest illegally.
According to the the County Attorney, the chewing stick is used for the production of alcoholic beverages and has a very good market in Ghana and Nigeria, saying the suspects might have been sent to Liberia by foreign nationals to illegally cut the sticks.
Besides, chewing stick is said to be used by Nigerians to clean their teeth, in addition to production of alcoholic beverages. The County Attorney told this paper yesterday that the suspects admitted to usually entering Liberia to purposely smuggle chewing sticks out of the country.
“All the suspects are Ghanaians and they have admitted cutting the sticks from time to time; it has a good market in Ghana and Nigeria,” he added.
Efforts to obtain comment from Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) failed, as the Acting Managing Director Harrison Kanwea and his public affairs officer could not be reached via mobile phone despite repeated attempts up to news time.