Nimba Land Disputes Need Urgent Intervention -IRCL Says It Characterizes Religious

The Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) has called for urgency to be attached to the land disputes in Nimba before things escalate out of hand; the Council observed that land disputes in Nimba County are largely characterized by tribal and religious sentiments.
In the IRCL’s five-point observation, the Council asserted that the land issues in the county have been politicized and noted, “The Mandingo community in Nimba no longer has confidence in neither the judicial system nor the political leaders of the County.”
Several interventions have been made by different institutions including the IRCL, but the IRCL said, accentuating however that the problem remains a challenge for every Government that is concerned about peace, reconciliation and development.
The IRCL indicated that the greater number of the cases is between the Mandingoes who are Muslims and the Gio and Mano on the other hand, who are predominantly Christians and Traditionalists.
Religion, the IRCL said, plays significant role in the Liberian society. According to national statistics from LISGIS 2008, 98%of the population identifies as Christians and Muslims. Religious leaders from time to time play major roles in the Liberian social and political life.
The Council, in pursuit of its peace-building mandate, therefore dispatched a team headed by its Secretary General Atty. Musa M. Bamba to the City of Ganta to assess and quiet down tension that arose as a consequence of a reported Court decision to demolish dwelling places belonging to one of contending parties to the land conflict in the city.
The team of the Liberia Council of Churches said it has gathered facts when it met with people of interest and proposed a way forward
During its intervention, the team met with include Morise T. Teameh – LNP, Ganta; LNP Regional Commander based Gbarnga; Amose Gbatou – Commissioner, Ganta City; Fred Suah – Plaintiff; George B. Saye – County Dispute Resolution Mentor; Amos N. G Suah – Ganta City Mayor; Abayomi Wiefu – Chairman of Concerned Nimbaians; Dutee Donzo – Defendant; Ansumana Jabateh – Defendant and Morris Kromah, Defendant
The IRCL’s team, according to the Council’s report, found that the unrest started as a result of the eviction order issued by the 8thJudicial Circuit Court of the Republic of Liberia in Sanniquillie, Nimba County. The Court mentioned in the order that the Defendants were hostile, which made the police to want to use maximum force to enforce the Court order.
The IRCL team also found that the Judgment was made in default, which means the defendants were not present, when the judgment was delivered. It is worth noting three judges have passed on the same case without having the defendants in court.
According to the team’s findings, the Defendants did not have their day in court due to lack of lawyer or one with requisite experience. Defendants’ document was not examined by court due to their absence.
“Both parties committed themselves to the Interreligious Council of Liberia to dialogue and reconciliation. Both parties produced Tittle deeds. Both Deeds seem to meet legal requirements as all are signed and probated by law,” the finds said.
The IRCL team’s findings also said some efforts have been made by local leaders but not fruitful as both the District Commissioner and the City Mayor claimed to have intervened in the matter to find room for reconciliation.
The IRCL’s team, after consulting with the plaintiff and the Defendants, offered to mediate for out of court settlement to the case. This proposal was welcomed by the both parties.
“The Council in meeting with Commissioner and Mayor, offered if the two men in authority could join IRCL in the Mediation. However it was noted by team that the City Mayor is part of the dispute in Ganta,” the IRCL team found, indicating that it was also brought to the attention of the team that there are other land cases in Ganta that need intervention.
Other members of the IRCL Assessment Team are, Dwede Townsend, David Kiazolu, Lassana Keita and Edward Seli, Coordinator, Political parties of Liberia
Leaders of the National Muslim Council of Liberia and the Liberian Council of Churches, in response to the December 1989 civil conflict actualized a concept of inter-faith collaboration that was initially called Inter-Faith Mediation Committee (IFMC).
The group was meant to engage both the warlords and the Government of Liberia to ceasefire and come to the dialogue table to settle their differences. The body later became known as the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) in June 1995.

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