Liberia: Police Intensify Search for Missing NEC Magistrate

Headquarters of the LNP in Monrovia. 

... As tension spills over into violence

The Liberia National Police has announced an intensified search for Alfred Dunner, a senior staff of the National Elections Commission, whose whereabouts for more than a week remains unknown.

Dunner, who works for the National Elections Commission as a Logistics Officer and Election Magistrate for Grand Gedeh County, was last seen on May 3, in Janzon, Niao Clan, which is about 25 kilometers away from Zwedru, the county capital.

He had gone to Niao Clan, seeking traditional treatment but ended up disappearing mysteriously. Since then, the police have been searching for him without any good result.  And with the search being in its second week, the police disclosed that the process has become grueling, even exhausting.

However, the police noted that the search is worthwhile as they try to solve the mystery of Dunner’s disappearance — forcing them and other security agencies, in collaboration with the local authority in Grand Gedeh County, to intensify the search efforts.

“The LNP’s Grand Gedeh Detachment, upon hearing of the missing person incident, constituted a team to work with local authorities in order to establish the whereabouts of the local NEC official,” police spokesman H. Moses Carter, disclosed.  “While our search operation continues, the public is urged to remain calm.”

The police, despite not having found Dunner yet, have charged and forwarded to court four individuals who they claimed are responsible for the alleged disappearance.

The four, identified as Maon Saverine, a herbalist, Gohou Sea Brice, the husband of the herbalist, Jerry Dunner and Chris Kummeh, have all been charged with multiple crimes, including Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Facilitation and Kidnapping.

They are expected to stand trial at the Zwedru Magisterial Court. 

 Meanwhile, Dunner's disappearance has pushed women in the county to take to the streets in the county’s capital in demand for action from authorities.  The disappearance of the elections official has generated huge public outcry as well as tribal conflict, after his kinsmen came under attack by some citizens of Niao Clan. 

Dunner’s kinsmen had gone to Niao Clan to inquire about his whereabouts but their visit led to several persons sustaining various degrees of injuries, after they decided to avenge the attack.

The protesting women, led by Nancy Quaye, accused the local government authorities and the police of  doing very little to address the mysterious disappearance of their son.

The protest leader noted that their action is intended to put pressure on the government and the police to move swiftly to rescue Dunner, as more delay increases worry.

“We do not know if the man is alive or dead. There is no information on his whereabouts. The superintendent is not talking to us. He’s mute. The situation is so frustrating, especially when the police is yet to arrest people in connection with brutality perpetrated against Dunner’s kinsmen who had gone to inquire about his whereabouts. 

Meanwhile, Dunner’s brother, Rev. Bill Dunner has  alleged that his brother’s disappearance could be  connected to his refusal to manipulate the November 16 representative by-election in Grand Gedeh County, despite being coerced to do so by some prominent citizens and politicians. 

He alleged that Alfred had previously complained about threats on his life by some individuals who allegedly recruited some ex-combatants to execute him.

Rev. Dunner then claimed that since the election, Dunner had gone into hiding several times as a result of being threatened by those who wanted him to manipulate the election result.