President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Pres. Sirleaf Calls For Justice Against Arcelor Mittal Rioters
By Willington Patrick, LINA Nimba County Correspondent
SANNIQUELLIE, October 8 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said justice should prevail in the trial of 12 youths who allegedly looted and vandalized the Arcelor Mittal facilities at Mount Tokadeh in Yekepa, Nimba County in June.
The Chief Executive pointed out that the trial would serve as a warning to young Liberians who believe that violence is the only means by which their views can be heard and grievances addressed.
President Sirleaf made the statement at the Arcelor Mittal Guesthouse in Yekepa on Tuesday when a group of women from Zolowee Town in Nimba County, pleaded for the release of their children who have been placed behind bars as a result of the incident that took place at Tokadeh.
In June of 2014, several individuals claiming to be owners of farmlands and diamond mines vandalized Arcelor Mittal facilities at Mount Tokadeh, demanding resettlement benefits.
At least 12 of the rioters, who face 10 charges including armed robbery, have been sent to court.
More than 20 other accused persons were released from prison when the Sanniquellie Magisterial Court in August found them not guilty.
The Nimba women claimed that the incident was a “peaceful demonstration" that later escalated into violence, something they are “seriously sorry about, especially against one of the world’s steel giants.”
But, The Liberian leader noted that the attitude exhibited by the alleged perpetrators did not only damage Arcelor Mittal operations, but rather deterred other companies wishing to invest in the country.
She emphasized that the efforts being exerted by government and partners to encourage companies to invest billions of dollars in Liberia cannot be shattered by a few citizens, adding, “They must prove their innocence in a court of competent jurisdiction.”
She promised to hold official dialogue with the affected communities after the court trial.