Some concerned citizens of River Gee County have alarmed of potential land and tribal conflict allegedly being nurtured between two towns in River Gee as a result of very chaotic decisions taken by Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf and River Gee County Superintendent Philip Q. Nyenuoh in a boundary dispute.
Addressing a press conference in Clara Town Wednesday, 15 July, the ChedepoGeeken Development Association of River Gee County alleged that Minister Varney Sirleaf disregard the original boundary called KIenegbae that was established in 1965 between ChedepoGeeken and PotupoGbaquiah by strangely establishing his own boundary on July 1, 2020 between the two towns.
On behalf of the group, its Acting president Mr. Gabriel GbacyTehNyantorh alleges that Minister Sirleaf strangely established between the two towns to protect the interest of some key government officials, saying the decision is “disastrous, chaotic and it lays the basis for tribal conflict and unrest.
“We are totally dissatisfied about this unreasonable and unprecedented decision made by the Internal Affairs Minister Hon. Sirleaf concerning the land dispute,” Mr. Nyantorh says.
“We realize that some key government officials who are instigating this conflict are doing so because a certain portion of the land called Piteatogbea that falls on the side of ChedepoGeeken contains natural resources that they want to extract,” he alleges.
To authenticate these claims, this paper has contacted the Ministry of Internal Affairs through its Focal Person to the Office of the Minister Mr. Emmanuel Wheinyue. Mr. Wheinyue informed this paper that everything the group has alleged is a total falsehood.
Mr. Wheinyue also denies the group’s claim that Executive Mansion Protocol Madam FindaBundoo or some key government officials allegedly influenced the decision regarding the boundary, adding that the decision to divide the land reserved over the years as buffer zone came from the locals themselves.
“So they all agreed that it [disputed piece of land] be split into two equal halves; so it was split. The next thing is to go put the cornerstone,” Mr. Wheinyue says.
In the resolution allegedly signed by the two towns, Mr. Wheinyue says it was indicated there that if your cash crop is on the other side of the new boundary, you still own the crop. As for rice farm, he says it is also stated in the resolution that you will only harvest the rice and the farm after which you the farm would be no longer yours.
According to Mr. Wheinyue, “the resolution was plain, clear and everybody celebrated it” and they have been hearing good information since they left, adding that he is surprising to hear that somebody from Monrovia says “they are Geeken people.”
However, the ChedepoGeeken Development Association strongly warns that anyone who attempts to take the ChedepoGeeken’ people’s land will surely have the citizens to contend with, emphasizing that they will use the last drop of their blood to maintain their land.
“Members of the Fourth Estate, we insist that in order to maintain the peace and harmony that have existed between the GeekenGbaquiah citizens, let us live by the original boundary established in 1965,” he continues.
As concerned citizens of ChedepoGeeken, Mr. Nyantorh says they are peaceful people and they subscribe to peaceful resolution of their problems in the spirit of preserving the hard – won peace of their dear county and the country at large.
Mr. Nyantorh indicates that the group is cognizant of the fact that land conflict and tribal war which Minister Sirleaf, County Superintendent Nyenuoh and other government officials seem to overlook, have very dire consequences on not just a segment of the society, but the whole.
He recalls that the land conflict occurred between the two towns in 1957 and 1964, respectively, but it was thankfully resolved in 1965 when Chedepo Chiefdom Paramount Chief Isaac K. Doe and Potupo Chiefdom Paramount Chief Joe Noring, together with elders from both towns, met and resolved the conflict in 1965.
That year, he recalls, the Klenegbae boundary was established and has since been existing over the years. He details that the citizens of both towns have been living in peace and harmony since the boundary was established in 1965 until in 2019 when some citizens of PotupoGbaquiah went beyond the Klenegbae and started making farms on Geeken’s land.
On 30 May this year, he says they complained against Mr. Nyenuoh to Minister Sirleaf for his failure to settle this land dispute, but Minister Sirleaf trashed the complaint for reasons best known to him.
On the day of the boundary harmonization on June 30, 2020, Mr. Nyantorh notes that Minister Sirleaf again refused to visit the conflict site, and that Superintendent Nyenuoh also stayed away, claiming to be tested positive for coronavirus.
“To our greatest surprise, the Minister of Internal Affairs wrote a resolution in favor of PotupoGbaquiah in which he disregarded the original boundary that was established in 1965,” he says.
He says Minister Sirleaf’s resolution divided the portion of land that falls between the two creeks in two, failing to take into consideration that portion of land contained cash crops planted by Geeken citizens.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah