The chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Cllr. Dempster Brown, says the reports about recruitment of militants and ritualistic killings within the country have the propensity to create serious violence ahead of 2023 general elections if not addressed.
According to him, there is information that 1,500 persons have been recruited as militants in Lofa County and some elders of the county are said to have vowed to recruit more than 1,500 people too for the same purpose.
“As we are traveling toward the 2023 election,” Cllr. Brown said, “there are a lot of situations that sound very fearful. As I stand here to speak, our monitors have reported that people are prepared to disturb the peace. This is something that we as stakeholders ought not to be sycophantic about. The situation in Lofa is fearful and I am happy that the Election Commission chairperson is present here to hear me,” he said.
He said if Liberia is determined to have peace, then now is the time to see the happenings as an early warning and then take serious action.
“This is very scary! Imagine just for a senatorial election? Commissioner Brown asked.
The NEC has put a temporary hold on the by-election of the Lofa senatorial seat, stopping the Unity Party from fielding a candidate, a matter that is now before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, prior to that decision, former Defense Minister Brownell J. Samukai, who was elected as senator of the county in the 2020 Senatorial election, has been disqualified from taking his seat due to criminal charges that disables him from taking his senatorial seat. This situation also is said to greatly divide the leaders and people of the county.
Cllr. Brown said that he had a meeting with the Justice Minister on the Lofa situation to discuss the issue and he was highly concerned.
“Upon my meeting with the Justice Minister, he called Lofa and got information that the report is nothing but the truth. In fact, we are hearing that people are crossing from Sierra Leone to Foya. Where are they coming from and going? Indeed, there are people in our midst who are determined to cause chaos,” he said. “And why is it so?”
He also said that the disappearance of the election magistrate in Grand Gedeh County is another incident that may cause violence if not managed now.
“The discouraging news in that county is also that a student was shot at but something I never heard in the media about. There is a report that he was carried to a hospital in the county for an operation. I have called the local authority on the issue but nothing has been done. The people have given the government an ultimatum to find their missing son. While this issue has been investigated some top government officials have been linked to the situation. But no one seems to take any action. I have said that if Jesus Christ is involved he must be persecuted,” Brown, aho as Human rights lawyer said emphatically.
He warned stakeholders not to also become complacent of the situation in Grand Gedeh.
“Not because we are riding big, big vehicles around here in Monrovia should you think that these situations are not serious. We must take action now or else the peace will definately be hampered,” he said.
“There are ritualistic killings and human rights violations continue to be carried out within the country. We must take action today,” the counselor reiterated.
The Human Rights Commissioner said despite the existing situations some stakeholders have become sycophantic and doing nothing.
He said that such behavior is very dangerous and has the propensity to make the peace process difficult.
“We need not to become sycophant about the current situations. This is an early warning and so we need to take action. If it is Jesus Christ who is causing the problem we must make sure to deal with him or her. Why should people want to deride peace only because of the outcome of an election without wanting to consider the legal channel,” he stated.
“I am calling the attention of the government officials that what is happening in Lofa and Grand Gedeh shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he added.
Cllr. Brown spoke recently during the relaunch of the National Situation Room in Monrovia. He asserted that the reason behind the citizens’ action could be due to dissatisfaction with a recent elections-related decision.