By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Amidst huge speculation that Nimba County District # 2 Representative, Prince Tokpah was allegedly flogged by some members of the Liberia National Police (LNP) during the recent attack on Arcelor Mittal in Zolowee and Gbaarpar, House Speaker, Alex J. Tyler has dispelled the rumor that his colleague was never flogged.
Speaker Tyler however denounced media reports that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is under probe for comments and allegation made by former National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) President; Christopher Neyor.
At a quickly arranged press briefing yesterday held at his Capitol Hill office, Speaker Tyler told reporters that the House has not reached a decision on the recent incident that occurred in Nimba with protesters vandalizing equipment of the company.
Tyler, who represents the people of District # 1 in Bomi County, explained that members of the House are awaiting the outcome of the investigation from government before commenting further on the Nimba County recent saga.
As regard Mr. Neyor’s letter on allegation of corruption at NOCAL, Speaker Tyler pointed out that the House is more concerned about reviewing the oil contracts and a segment that would bring out gas component of the agreement. But he was quick to remind reporters that Plenary will invite institutions or agencies associated with NOCAL to get some clarity on the matter.
As for the recent certificated political party, People Unification Party (PUP), Speaker Tyler clarified that he is not a member of that party but was invited by some of his colleagues (lawmakers) to witness the occasion at the National Elections Commission (NEC) headquarters.
“I am not a member of PUP. I took my party to UP and I am still a member of UP; I can’t leave now; I was only invited by my friends to witness the certification of PUP,” Speaker Tyler said.
Last week, a protest was staged in the town of Zolowee, Nimba County over the operations of world Steel giant Arcelor Mittal.
County officials and the members of the legislative caucus told reporters that protesters blocked main roads and caused tension in Zolowee Town demanding recounting of crops as a means of receiving compensation from Arcelor Mittal for stopping them from farming in certain localities.
The local officials and lawmakers explained that compensation has been paid over the years to locals for use of their land for roads and other mining activities by Mittal with over US$4.2 million already paid to the locals.
It was suspected that some individuals who are not from the communities were the ones masterminding the current protest using the situation to extort money.
A Mine Resettlement Coordinating Committee, comprising the Ministries of Agriculture, Gender and development, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Civil Society organizations and others, he said has been working with Mittal over the years on payments to the communities and the process has been going on smoothly.
Media report from Nimba says the protesters were claiming that some of their crops were not counted during the counting process in 2010 and are therefore demanding a recount.
It was also reported that Rep. Prince Tokpa was on the scene when the incident occurred and was allegedly arrested and flogged by officers of the LNP.
Nimba County pays host to world steel Giant Mittal Steel after the company signed a 25 year mineral development agreement with the government of Liberia to mine iron ore in the country.
As part of its social corporate responsibility the company has paid millions of dollars to three counties- Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa for its operations with Nimba getting the lion’s share.