Liberia: ANC Condemns Attack Against Protesting Students, Calls for Prosecution

Alexander B. Cummings, political leader of the CPP

The Alternative National Congress (ANC) has strongly condemned the unprovoked violent attack, torture, and humiliation of peaceful protesting students of the University of Liberia under the banner of the Student  Unification Party (SUP), by state-sponsored thugs and bandits, recruited, organized trained, and financed by Jefferson Koijee, Nathaniel McGill and President George Weah -  for the sole purpose of violently crushing political dissent and instilling fear and terror in the opposition community and citizens who disagree with the Government’s policies and practices.  

The group of thugs and bandits, under the command and instruction of Jefferson Koijee,  were, during the violent attack, led by officials of the CDC-COP including Ben Believe  Togba, Poker Roberts, and one Abdurahman Barrie, outgoing Student Council President from the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) – a fellow who is believed to head the Consortium of University Students for the Re-election of President Weah.

In fact,  in a Facebook post, a few minutes after the violent attacks, Ben Believe Togba, leader of the attackers, wrote boastfully on his page: “under special instructions from our supreme leader Jefferson Tamba Koijee, we carried out attacks against UL students (SUP) this morning. Next time we will use live bullets!” 

ANC is therefore calling on the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr.  Frank Musah Dean, to immediately order a full investigation and the arrest and prosecution of Jefferson Koijee, Ben Believe Toba, Poker Roberts, Abdurahman Barrie,  and others, for the violent attacks on peaceful protesting students. 

In a letter to Liberia’s Justice Minister, with copies to the American  Ambassador, AU, and ECOWAS, the ANC vehemently frowns on what appears to be a  persistent pattern of conduct of grooming and institutionalizing domestic terror by George  Weah, Nathaniel McGill and Jefferson Koijee to distribute violence through thugs and 

bandits in order to instill fear in the opposition community and silent dissenting voices.

Until Victory Is Won, & True Change Has Come, ANC 2023 

ANC is particularly alarmed and disturbed by evidence of video images in which the thugs and bandits were escorted by uniformed police officers of the Liberian National Police  (LNP), who watched and smiled, as peaceful students were attacked, beaten, tied and made naked in public. 

“This is political gangsterism and reckless bravado that taints our decency and democracy as a people, and strikes a poisonous bullet in the spinal cord of our democratic tradition of free speech and peaceful assembly,” says Alexander Cummings, Standard Bearer of the  ANC. 

The ANC says the organization, financing and sponsoring of violent thugs and bandits by  Weah, McGill under the direct control and command of Koijee – for the sole purpose of  instigating violence and inflicting unimaginable havoc of mega proportions against the  opposition community and dissenting voices – is a reprehensible abuse of public office and  is tantamount to domestic terrorism. 

It is a matter of public knowledge that university students from the Student Unification  Party (SUP) had long announced that they would protest, and had in fact gone on July  26, to peacefully present a petition to the United States Ambassador, with a demand:  “Weah Must Fix the Country.”

In counter-reaction, thugs and bandits, acting under the command of Koijee, under the theme “Weah is Fixing the Country” and escorted by officers of the LNP, stormed the gathering of the peaceful protesting students, chased them with rocks and sticks, abducted and kidnapped some students, and tied and naked them.

In a  video circulating on social media, thugs and bandits sponsored by the government were seen manhandling Christopher Walter Sisulu Sivilii in the presence of some officers of the  Liberia National Police (LNP), which brings to memory the ugly past in our country's history when rights activists were brutalized and hunted simply because they stood up for the right things to be done, that led to 14 years of civil unrest. 

“This is an unacceptable provocation and creeping lawlessness which must not be tolerated,  says Senator Daniel F. Naatehn, National Chairman of the ANC. 

Though not surprising, it is sad that the Government is yet to release a statement regarding the act of gangsterism exhibited by loyalists of the ruling party on the day marking the country's 175th independence celebration. The ANC is therefore calling the attention of the international community – the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS,  European Union, and the US Government – to this barbaric act and encouraging all civil society organizations, women and student groups, and other political parties to condemn the attacks on July 26 at the American Embassy near Monrovia.  

ANC says, the right to protest is a fundamental right, guaranteed under Article 15  (Freedom of Expression) and Article 17 (Freedom of Peaceful Assembly) of the 1986 

Until Victory Is Won, & True Change Has Come, ANC 2023 

Liberian Constitution. It is the right of every Liberian to peacefully assemble against ills in  the society. The systematic pattern of conduct by Weah, McGill and Koijee to recruit,  organize, train, finance and sponsor thugs and bandits to crush and inflict injuries on  dissenting voices and the opposition community during the exercise of their democratic  right, is unacceptable.  

Fresh on our minds is the 2018 bloody riot and thuggish violence led by Koijee against the opposition rally in District 13; the 2019 bloody violence in District 15 by thugs under the command of Koijee; and several violent attacks on multiple occasions by Koijee-led thugs against peacefully protesting university students. The persistent violent pattern of conduct  by Koijee has led United States Congressman Rep. Chris Smith, a Ranking Member of the  House Subcommittee on Africa and co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights  Commission to remark: "I am especially concerned by allegations surrounding Monrovia  Mayor Jefferson Koijee and the thuggish behavior of the Congress for Democratic Change  Security Force he heads." 

Similarly, the International Justice Group (IJG) has dubbed Koijee as the “perpetrator in-chief “who behaves like a violent psychopath who acts under the authority of President  Weah and is shielded and protected by him.” The IJG has accused Koijee of overseeing violent actions by “vigilante groups” loyal to the party and current Government, and has been responsible for incitement and participation in acts of violence against citizens and opposition member. 

It can be recalled that Weah, McGill and Koijee have been linked to organizing, financing,  sponsoring and arming vigilante militias comprising armed robbers, ex-combatants and  violent militants from the ruling CDC into the “Sabu Unit”, “Kuba Unit”, and “Moscow  Empire”; groups noted for carrying out bloody attacks against opposition figures and  innocent civilians to instill fear and cause death. 

ANC is also, therefore, calling on the Minister of Justice to set up an independent panel to investigate and probe the thuggish behavior blessed by Weah and McGill, and executed through Koijee.