By: Jallah Massah
The former Lofa County District #3 aspirant and spokesman of communal farmers working on a palm garden in Voinjama District, Lofa County, Mr. Gizzie Collins, has accused the County Attorney J. Luther Sumo for ordering personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to intimidate and molest workers from operating on the farm in Kormai Town.
Mr. Collins said Atty. Sumo took along five armed men in his jeep on March 3, 2018 and intimidated and molested peaceful citizens while they were working on the farm. Immediately upon their arrival on the farm, the soldiers confiscated the tools of the farm workers and made them to vacate the area through other inhumane circumstances.
He said the County Attorney acted unlawfully and termed his action as “misuse of power and total disregard for the rule of law” by unnecessarily overlapping his jurisdictional function to use armed military into civil matters instead of the police.
The farmers’ spokesman also informed The Analyst that the five AFL personnel who acted on the orders of Atty. Sumo functioned outside the perimeter of the laws, especially when they overlapped their scope of operations as members of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
“I told Attorney Luther Sumo who claims to be a legal practitioner or legal luminary with experience in handling legal cases that, it would had been prudent enough to have filed a lawsuit against the people of Kormai Town if for any reason, the land belongs to the government rather than using group of armed men of the Arm Forces of Liberia to harass and terrorize our people for their own land.”
Mr. Collins expressed disappointment over the action of the County Attorney, who he said undermines civil proceedings of the judicial process.
Speaking further Mr. Collins said from the inception of the incident, they have written other authorities of the Government of Liberia including the Ministry of Justice to investigate the action of the County Attorney so as to ascertain the facts, and show cause of intimidating nonviolent citizens. He however noted that up to present the Justice Ministry is yet to call for a probe into the matter.
Instead, Mr. Collins narrated that one of the Assistant Ministers at the Ministry of Justice in person of Wesseh A. Wesseh invited the people of Kormai Town from Lofa to come to Monrovia, which is out of their comfort zone, for investigation.
Adding that the request by Minister Wesseh is intended to undermine the investigation and deny his people of their legitimate rights, he maintained that under no condition will his people subject themselves to any investigation outside the jurisdictional territory.
Mr. Collins also said that there are costs for transportation and accommodation attached to the travel of the people of Lofa to Monrovia, and added that it is unfair because the government is not willing to underwrite the expenses.
The former Lofa County District #3 aspirant said they have complained to the Lofa Bar Association, National Human Rights Commission and the Office of the County Superintendent and yet there is no redress.
“We will complain the County Attorney and the Ministry of Justice for failure to investigate the matter that was life-threatening to the American Embassy until our complain can be investigated because we don’t want to ravage into anything that will be very ugly,” Mr. Collins said.
Meanwhile, the Town Chief of Kormai, Mr. Massah Z. Wonnie said the land was given to the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) in 1964 to make a nursery for the period of twenty five years and the time has elapsed.
He stated that a man identified as Opelando Kerkulay is the one claiming to be the representative of the company but indicated that the land owners have requested for their land due to time expiration in order to embark on a general farming to buttress the government Pro-Poor Agenda through agriculture.
When contacted via mobile phone, Lofa County Attorney Sumo said he was tired talking about the incidence. He said it has happened since eight months ago, and “I have being talking with all of the news agencies in Monrovia; if Collins thinks he has case against me, let him go to court.”
The County Attorney counter-accused Mr. Collins of seeking political relevance at his expense. “But I will not give him relevance if it is what he wants”.
Commenting further, the Lofa County Attorney stated that if Mr. Collins cannot go to court to make a case against me, then he should find place to sit.