A local child right advocacy group, Forerunner of Children’s Universal Right for Survival or FOCUS, has called on the Nimba legislative caucus and the Government of Liberia to resolve the controversy over the recent violent protest in Yekepa, Nimba County through dialogue and mutual respect.
In a press statement issued here Monday, FOCUS Executive Director, Anthony L.M. Boakia, said though the organization does not support use of lawlessness in addressing grievances, the Nimba citizens’ disenchantment should be addressed in the spirit of fairness and transparency.
Mr. Boakia said FOCUS as a child right organization is concerned due to the recent reaction from the legislative caucus to President Sirleaf’s statement on the protest, which he said portrayed the Executive and the Legislature as though they are at loggerhead over the truthfulness of what transpired in Yekepa between July 6-7, 2014.
“FOCUS wants what seems to be a standup between the President and the caucus to be amicably resolved because in any given deteriorating situation, children are always among the first causalities,” the Executive Director noted.
He said the fast escalating tension between President Sirleaf and the Nimba County Legislative Caucus was worrisome and unhealthy for Liberia’s nascent democracy.
Boakai called on elders and religious community of Nimba and the county’s leadership to prevail on youth in the county to exercise patience while the county leadership meets with Government in finding a lasting solution to their grievances.
It can be recalled that the United Workers Union of Liberia recently condemned the violence, looting and destruction at Arcelor Mittal Liberia by aggrieved employees and community dwellers in Nimba County, terming the situation as “War Mongering.”
“We firstly condemn the act in the strongest of term and declare it as uncivilized, baseless and selfish expression intended for looting and destruction purposely by war mongering individuals in Nimba County who feel Liberia should continue to live in violence over the rule of law and turn the hard earned peace that we enjoy today into chaotic situation,” said UWUL Secretary General, David D. Sackoh.
According to him, the union is the representative organization at ArcelorMittal and is greatly concerned of the rough side of the mountain being climbed by the company, adding that the violent attacks on the company’s operations in recent times by the people of Nimba have the potential to threaten the security of the State.
He pointed out that the people of Zoluwee or Nimba County in general may have a legitimate demand, but their approach was very wrong. Sackoh continued that the action by the Nimbanians will not profit anybody or solve any matter, saying, violence is an old argument in Liberia and cannot be used to address new challenges.
He blamed the Government for the inability of any company to perform to expectation of the people, stressing that Government knows politically very well who is impeding the company’s performance and should therefore, be able to correct such pitfalls.
The Government of Liberia says perpetrators of the recent violence at Arcelor Mittal Liberia would face the law. Already several suspects have been arrested and sent to court in connection with the incident.
He said the union wants the nation to know that fathers, mothers, sons, sibling in Zoluwee and surrounding communities and Nimba County in general constitute over sixty percent of the workforce, whom it represents.
Sackoh said the improvement of conditions and benefits are being done from time to time through good faith negotiation that cannot be exchanged for jungle justice, adding that the latest incident has a trigger down effect on the ongoing union management Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation, which tend to weaken the union’s ability to press forward with demands for salary increase and other benefits from the management in favor of the workers.
“We call on the government to bring both the organizers and perpetrators to justice as soon as practical and ensure they face the full weight of the law,” he concluded.