8 February 2013

Liberia: Govt. Rubbishes Defense's Gun Importation Claim - Says No Armed Men Onboard Arcelormittal Vessels

The Government of Liberia said no armed men were imported by Arcelor Mittal as speculated by Defense Minister Brownie Samukai.

Addressing the Ministry of Information weekly press briefing, Justice Minister, Christiana Tah said the findings from the joint security team that was set up by the government to investigate the alleged importation of armed security guards, show that no armed men have been brought into the country as was reported by Minister Samukai.

Police Inspector General, Chris Massaquoi in his statement buttressing Minister Tah said the joint security team visited the two ArcelorMittal vessels that are currently on Liberia's territorial water could not find any armed men. Inspector Massaquoi noted that the vessels are used by ArcelorMittal to ship iron ore from the country.

According to the police boss, their investigation team only found 39 crew workers on-board the two vessels but did not see gun on any security guard as was reported.

However, Minister Tah has assured Liberians that they will do everything possible to make sure that the security of the country is upheld.

Recently, Minister Samukai accused the world steel giant (ArcelorMittal) of its involvement in the importation of ex-military personnel with guns to serve as private security in the country. However the company herself has denied involvement.

Minister Samukai noted that he does not see any reason while ArcelorMittal will hire armed men from international private security firms to serve as security for its ship or vessels when the Coast Guard of Liberia as up to the task.

In reaction to Minister Samukai's accusation, ArcelorMittal said it does not hire armed men to provide guard service for company. The company said it fully abides by the United Nations mandates against arms and under no circumstances will it violate the mandate.

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