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ALJA Troubled Over Reports Of Arms Discovery

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MINNEAPOLIS, USA: The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), says it is bothered by recent news reports emanating from Liberia regarding the joint security and the Liberia National Police (LNP) confiscation of a consignment of deadly weapons and ammunition at the National Port Authority (NPA) in Monrovia.

On January 6, 2023, the LNP reportedly confiscated 15 deadly weapons including AK-47s and long rifles in a container shipped to Liberia, West Africa, by a US based Liberian.

Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, the LNP’s Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, displayed a number of military grade arms and ammunition which he said, were discovered in several boxes loaded onto a container and shipped through the Freeport of Monrovia where they were confiscated.

Inspector Sudue named a number of individuals connected to the alleged illegal importation including Barbra Debbra of the Old Road Community and Boye Benjamin Baker, a resident of Texas, the United States.

Additional weapons were also, reportedly seized from Mr. Baker’s home in Brewerville, outside Monrovia.

ALJA in a press release issued on Friday, January 12, 2023, described the reports of the arms and ammunition seizure as disturbing and appalling.

The Association said given Liberia’s ugly past mainly the 14 years civil wars that devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people, properties, and the displacement of thousands of people internally and externally, it is traumatizing for Liberians to be confronted with such news.

ALJA says with barely ten months to Liberia’s 2023 Presidential and General elections, the country cannot afford any crisis that will distract from this all-important goal of building upon the democratic gains that the country has made since the cessation of the civil crisis.

The Association said while it commends the security forces for this seizure, it also recognizes the skepticism with which many Liberians have received this report, given the Joint security forces checkered history and the perception that it operates as a partisan security apparatus.

Meanwhile, ALJA is urging the Inspector General Sudue and the security apparatus to ensure that the investigation is conducted in a professional and transparent manner and the rights of all suspects are fully protected.

ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It is a 501c (3) non-profit organization.

The Association was founded in 1998 with the objectives of advancing press freedom through media capacity building, and the fostering of good governance in Liberia through media advocacy

Recently, the Liberia National Police (LNP) reported that it has discovered ‘huge cache’ of arms at the Liberia’s main gateway, Freeport of Monrovia. Apart, the LNP also told the Liberia people that it has been discovering batch of arms from around Monrovia and is currently investigating who illegally shipped a cache of weapons to the country.

Police made the discovery recently at the main seaport entry. Police Inspector General Colonel Patrick Sudue told the VOA in an interview earlier this week that the arms were allegedly sent to the country by a Liberian national residing in the U.S. State of Texas. He did not name a suspect.

The high-grade arms reported seized by police included assault rifles and binoculars found in a container at the port.

One arrest was made and the Police Inspector disclosed that after a search of a residence linked to the accused arms exporter additional arms and ammunition were found in an attic.

The Liberian Police Chief further disclosed that the seized cache included sniper rifles, AR-15 and AK-47 assault weapons, Remington firearms, night scopes, lasers and cleaning materials.

“Those are not hunting guns; those are fully automatic military style weapons,” the Police Chief said, adding that the weapons could not have been imported for hunting purposes.

He declined to state how intelligence was gathered for the operation which led to the discovery of the weapons.

Concern has been raised by some citizens over the arms discovery given the devastating conflict which nearly destroyed the West African country in the 1990s. An estimated 250,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict.

The Government has not commented on the matter. Liberia will hold Presidential and General Elections in October this year.

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