GOVERNMENT’S TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF ARMS DISCOVERY: ‘ARMS’ VERSUS ‘SHELLS’

'Gen' Mary Broh whose continual quest to clean Monrovia led to shells discovery

'Gen' Mary Broh whose continual quest to clean Monrovia led to shells discovery

 

Acting Minister of Information Cletus Sieh
Acting Minister of Information Cletus Sieh

  

 

 

 

By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay (231-6-402737)

What seems to be a very serious lack of coordination among government ministries continues to hang dark cloud rather than clarity over Wednesday’s discovery of arms (or shells) in the suburb of Jacob’s Town in Paynesville as evidenced by two different versions provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT).

THE NSA’S VERSION

According to Augustus Tweh, a case-official at the NSA, over 25 bags of arms and ammunitions were discovered yesterday in the Jacob’s Town area, specifically around the Black Gina area—a community that brewed a serious confrontation that led to the brief but destructive fracas in 2004 referred to otherwise as ‘The Rock War’.

Mr. Tweh stated that he couldn’t provide the exact number of arms unless they are all assembled. He explained that this discovery followed a tip-off from residents of the community in additional to security surveillance that has been since put in place.

The NSA official told Star Radio that these bags of arms and ammunitions were all sealed; moreover, they were all brand new. Tweh further narrated that four persons (all males) were arrested in connection with these arms and ammunitions and have promised to cooperate with security investigation to provide more information on them. He disclosed that the appearances of these people were more of Guinean-nationalities with broken hardly incomprehensive English.

“Their English sounded like people from Guinea. Their English was broken English”, answered Tweh when asked to describe how these suspects appeared and spoke.

INFORMATION MINISTRY’S VERSION

But the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) provided a complete different version of the discovery. During a press conference at the Ministry, the Acting Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Cletus Sieh dismissed the NSA’s information and stated that there were no guns found but rather single barrel ‘shells’ contained in 50 boxes. Minister Sieh told journalists that these were discovered during a Mary Broh clean-up of the 72nd Community in which 1,251 rounds were seen.

“There were no guns discovered anywhere. In fact, there were 1,251 single barrel shells that were discovered in 50 boxes contained in several containers that were sealed in some rice bags”, he explained. He explained that Mary Broh and her team noticed a taxi carrying these items upon which they ordered the taxi to a halt.

He said five persons including a lady were immediately arrested to provide information on how these “single barrel shells”. He insisted that there were no guns found during this search. He said the arrested persons and the single barrel shells are in the custody of the Liberia National Police (LNP).

The Minister’s clarity on this issue clearly contradicts the previous one as provided by the NSA official who repeatedly maintained that these were real, fresh and new arms and ammunitions that amounted to over 25 bags while the Information’s version speaks of 50 boxes of single barrel shells. Another aspect that remains confusing is how to compromise the NSA’s version of four arrested persons all males to that of MICAT’s version of five persons to include a female.

When asked to compromise these contradictions, he said: “The Liberian government is telling you that there was no arms found but shells were discovered. I’m government’s spokesperson. So, take what I am telling you as the acting information minister”, which meant that utterances from the NSA official should be disregarded. He continued: “Perhaps I can say that the NSA did not lie. But you did not talk to Minister Peter B. Jallah who is the minister of National Security”.

So the likelihood of Augustus Tweh being dealt cannot be erased as Minister Sieh stated that Minister Jallah who is also a part of the Security Council will definitely deal with whoever that wanted to “make some news” if indeed said person does come from his (Minister Jallah’s) ministry.

The continual discoveries of shells is becoming a nationwide concern as there was a similar instance in Bong County sometimes last year and a recent one by farmers around the provincial capital of Lofa County, Voinjama.  This has continued to stir up fears among Liberians on whose minds reminds fresh images of the atrocities of a deadly civil war that they are yet to fully recover from.

 But Minister Sieh assured Liberians that the Government is proactive to instances of such nature while admitting there it is true that either of two things might be the cause of such constant discoveries. “One, it could be that someone is planning something or someone is smuggling in shells for commercial purposes. Since we don’t have those facts now, those suspects are being held and questioned by police so that we have a more conclusive investigation that will lead to the intent of these discovered shells”.

A vigilant public

One thing that is common to all of these discoveries is the alarm raised by the public during which time they provide tips-up to requisite security agencies. In both (though different versions) versions, the public provided or aided in a way that led to these discoveries of arms or shells. To this, Minister Sieh appreciated the vigilance of these Liberians and admonished them to continue as there are others who are bent on demonizing others in this country.

 He then cautioned those who might be involved in commercializing these single barrel shells to do it in line with the proper authority. “The right thing to do in this light is to get in touch with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. I’m not saying that the arm embargo has been lifted over Liberia because I’m not a legal person to know the extent this is or the ramification involved. But if you have a single barrel gun and want to use for such commercial purposes, this is the right thing to do”.

 

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