Liberia: Throwing Open the Gates of Hell?

Headquarters of the Liberia National Police.  

.. Deputy Police Inspector-General Marvin Sackor’s threats to use force against Lofa Assembly of Poro and Sande Zoes

Deputy Police Inspector-General (IG) Marvin Sackor’s recent remarks, threatening the use of force against the assembly of Sande and Poro zoes of Lofa for their protest action, should not be taken lightly. It is like throwing open the gates of hell!

His threat to send in crack Police units to disperse the assembly of Sande and Poro zoes who have gathered in protest action at the bridge linking Lofa to Bong Counties has, according to a security expert (name withheld), raised the specter of violent confrontation laden with dangerous spillover potential. 

“… if you as a citizen of this country will use whatever political means or any disenchantment to undermine the peace of this country, I can assure the public that the Liberia National Police will use whatever force necessary to contain that situation….” 

An authoritative source versed in Poro tradition, has called the threats by Deputy Police IG an act of dangerous showmanship with a potential to lead the country down the road to the past. 

According to the source, President Weah should reprimand Deputy Police IG Sackor for his remarks which could be wrongly interpreted as GoL hostile intent. 

He said should the Police Deputy IG actualize his threats, the Zoes will simply retreat to the forest, which has for centuries provided them protection from invaders.

How will the Police maintain an effective presence if they do not have the cooperation of the people, is the question he asked. 

Further, according to him, Deputy Police IG Sackor, needs to revisit reasons why the Armed Forces of Liberia failed to defeat the NPFL insurgency which, in six months after its launch, found its fighters banging at the gates of Monrovia.   

According to the cultural expert, there are many ways, culturally speaking, in which the people can resist. Unexplained illnesses leading to death including physical afflictions that cause great suffering are but a few of the ways in which traditional people can resist what they perceive as unjust treatment.

But questions are being asked about the motives and intent of the Deputy Police IG, who the public believes is engaged in showmanship of a dangerous kind.

According to a former security official, the same individual, while serving in the same official capacity, was flogged by CDC partisans during an attempt to dissuade CDC diehards from throwing stones at supporters of the Liberty Party who were holding celebrations at their offices on Tubman Boulevard, near the Catholic Hospital junction.

Nothing, absolutely nothing at all was done to the perpetrators of the violent acts against him. The old saying, “charity begins at home”, aptly applies here.  It was, from all appearances, selective application of the law.

Similarly, was the case in the District 15 elections in which the Police stood idly by while supporters of the CDC physically and violently attacked the offices of rival candidate Telia Urey as well as her vehicle which, according to reports, was damaged beyond repair. She narrowly escaped death. 

No arrests were made, clearly demonstrating that the Police was selectively applying and enforcing the law. Further, the senatorial by-elections in Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu Counties were characterized by violence.

Opposition candidates in Cape Mount were reported to have been violently attacked by CDC supporters while in Gbarpolu county, a Poro master, allegedly instigated by Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, intimidated opposition supporters and took away ballot boxes.

There is no evidence on record showing that the Police acted in any of those instances, to either avert violence or to arrest perpetrators of the violence. All of such instances do inform and feed public perception of Police bias in the application of the law.

In the case involving Brownie Samukai, there is evidence on record that some of the money alleged to have been illegally used by Samukai was refunded by the government of President Weah in keeping with a liquidation plan agreed to by outgoing President Sirleaf and incoming President Weah.

There is also knowledge in the public domain that Samukai had spurned attempts and offers by the CDC to run on its ticket in the December 2020 senatorial mid-term election.

When it became clear that Samukai was contesting but not on the CDC ticket, officials of the CDC, according to various accounts, mounted an attempt to thwart his ambition.

The current standoff between the GoL and the assembly of Poro and Sande zoes has, without doubt, created a crisis situation for this government. 

The GoL’s response to the crisis, it appears, has been knee-jerk, feeble and, at best, ineffectual. It has failed to remove the impression that the law is being selectively applied with the intent to demean and humiliate the people of Lofa.

This is the principal reason underlying the standoff and, by all indications, will persist despite the huffing, puffing, grandstanding and showmanship of officials of this government, including Deputy IG Sackor.

The head of the Traditional Council of Chiefs, Zanzan Karwor, speaking on behalf of the Council, has called on President Weah to exercise his power of presidential pardon to end the crisis.

To the best of publicly available information, President Weah has so far not responded to the recommendation of the Traditional Council, nor has he called the Deputy IG to order.

It is the considered opinion of the Daily Observer that President Weah can end the crisis by heeding the recommendation of the Traditional Council and grant Samukai a presidential pardon. Such will be an act of true statesmanship which, as President of this nation, he ought to demonstrate at all times.