A group of ‘aggrieved’ citizens in Grand Gedeh’s B’hai District rushed into the forest near the border with Cote d’Ivoire, and arrested at least 12 people said to be nationals of Burkina Faso allegedly carrying out farming, mining, and hunting activities there.
However, the Liberia News Agency is yet to independently verify these allegations, but citizens in that part of in the county have for long raised alarm at an intrusion into the dense forest by ‘foreigners’ since 2017.
There were no clashes reported during the action by the group of citizens who said their move was predicated upon an agreement between the Grand Gedeh officials and their Ivorian counterparts from the region near Liberia during a cross-border cooperation meeting which took place in Bolequin (Cote d’Ivoire) in June last year.
Following the arrests, County Inspector Paul Neeo, told LINA that the locals from towns close to occupied forest also arrested one Rancy Goh, who allegedly harbored about 30 Burkinabes.
Inspector Neeo said all those apprehended are in the custody of B’hai District Commissioner.
William Quartis, an assertion the commissioner confirmed but said they will be turned over to the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) detachment and other joint security actors for proper investigation.
However, it is yet early to determine whether they will be prosecuted under the laws of Liberia, although this development has generated huge interest amongst the local population.
An immigration officer in Toe Town, who did not want to be named, only told LINA correspondent that “Those who made the arrest are said to be citizens who are part of a vigilante group organized for the protection of their forest from trespassers.”
The B’hai forest belt runs along the Cavalla River in Gbarzon Statutory District, and has several porous entry points with neighboring Cote d’Ivoire.
The B’hia-Jozon border otherwise called the “Toe Town Border” is the official entry connecting Toe Town in Liberia and Toulepleu in Cote d’Ivoire.