By Ethel A Tweh
River Cess County Senator, Wellington Geevon-Smith has threatened to rally citizens against what he called the illegal settlement of Burkinabes in Liberia through Grand Gedeh and River Cess Counties.
Speaking in the Senate Plenary on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, Senator Geevon-Smith recounted that over many years now, hundreds of citizens of Burkina Faso have been trooping their way in Liberia through the counties.
According to him, Liberia does not have a common border point with Burkina Faso, while the citizens of that country are trooping into the country and farming without knowing their intent.
He explained that the Burkinabees are coming into the country through Grand Gedeh and River Cess, adding that the matter needs urgent redress by the Liberian government, or he will join the local citizens to resist those Burkinabe for illegally settling and occupying land.
The River Cess County Senator also questioned the whereabouts of the Burkinabees, saying that the matter was further brought to the attention of the county’s local authority recently to find a remedy and prevent future conflict.
Reacting to Senator Wellington-Geevon Smith’s claims, Lofa County Senator, Stephen Zargo said unless the presence of the Burkinabees in Liberia poses threat to the country’s security and it is proven, his colleague should realize that all ECOWAS countries’ citizens are entitled to free movement.
In defense, Senator Zargo justified that those Burkinabees are coming into Liberia based on friendship and as such, the Liberian government should be careful about how to engage the matter.
However, the River Cess Senator informed Senator Zargo that free movement is different from illegal settlement as reportedly being carried out by those Burkinabees.
He also cautioned his fellow senators to stop intellectualizing a situation that may cause problems for the country instead of promptly arresting the matter in the interest of the state.
Senator Geevon-Smith maintained that the people of River Cess County will ensure those Burkinabees are not given a single space if the Liberian government defaults on its constitutional obligation to defend and protect the country and its people.
Meanwhile, following plenary’s deliberations, Senator Geevon-Smith’s concern was forwarded to the Senate joint Committees on Defense, Security and Veteran Affairs and Internal Affairs to probe the matter and report back next week.
The joint committee is being led by the Committee on Defense, Security and Veteran Affairs following a motion from Grand Bassa County Senator, Jonathan Kaipay.-edited by Othello B. Garblah