8 April 2001

Liberia: Police Gives Conflicting Accounts of Opposition Figure

Monrovia, Liberia — Liberian police said the government has neither arrested nor detained opposition politician Milton Teahjay who was recently dismissed as media advisor to President Charles Taylor.

Police chief Paul Mulbah told a news conference late Saturday that neither the police nor any other state security agency has arrested Teahjay.

But Mulbah contradicted himself when he also disclosed that the police were sending two teams of plain clothes agents and officers of the special operations division to northern Nimba County to "ascertain" whether Teahjay had crossed the border or was being detained by the joint security forces in the area.

Teahjay was reportedly arrested Friday when he attempted to use an "irregular" border point in the Nimba area to cross into a neighbouring country.

A member of the opposition United People's Party (UPP), Teahjay was fired a fortnight ago by Taylor as media consultant to him for alleged "acts inimical to the security of the state."

Teahjay's "crime" was to announce that he would lead a demonstration of his kinsmen in Liberia's southeastern Sinoe County against logging companies operating in the area without providing benefits to the local people.

The police chief said the government has no charge against Teahjay or was it searching for him, adding, "Teahjay is a free man and will be protected by the government."

Mulbah urged Teahjay to "move about freely if he is in Monrovia" and said he was personally prepared to escort Teahjay if he wanted to leave the country.

Already, Patrick Teahjay, the younger brother of the opposition figure, told a news conference he was informed that state security personnel had arrested Teahjay.

Patrick said since their return to Monrovia from an abortive attempt to leave the country, he does not know the whereabouts of Teahjay, neither can the family at his brother's home say what has happened to him.

These latest revelations have left many Liberians wondering whether the controversial Teahjay has gone missing as was the case in 1998 with the late opposition politician, Samuel Dokie and three family members who then travelled with him.

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