The Ministry of Justice has sent 47 persons to court on multiple criminal offenses following the September 30 violent demonstration that nearly buckled Ganta, the commercial hub of Nimba County, in two days of turmoil.
Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh told residents of Ganta on Tuesday that those charged with multiple criminal offenses including murder, burglary, arson, and robberies who were forwarded to court will be judged without prejudice.
He said three of the accused have already admitted to the killing of the motorcyclist, whose death sparked the violence. They will be tried on murder charges.
He told Ganta residents that the government will do all it can to speed up the trial of those indicted to ensure that justice prevails.
“Prosecution around the world takes time and government is making sure to put in all the necessary provisions to fast track this case so that all the sides can be sure of justice,’’ Minister Sannoh declared.
Minister Sannoh said the defendants are detained and they will subsequently be forwarded to the Saniquellie Magisterial Court for prosecution.
Prior to making the pronouncements, Cllr. Sannoh paid a visit to the home of the relatives of the murdered motorcyclist where he reemphasized government’s commitment to ensure that justice prevails in their case. He paid a similar visit to the ransacked residence of businessman Prince Howard, who nearly lost all his properties when the demonstrators set two of his houses on fire and looted his Hotel Alvino.
The pronouncement by Minister Sannoh brought relief to some of the affected families, like the Yeawoyen household, saddened by the death of their son, a motorcyclist.
The family said their son Josephus Yeawonyen was butchered after being picked-up from his home by ‘friends’ on that fateful September 29 only to discover his lifeless body the next day.
In an earlier interaction with the Sannoh-led government delegation, parents of the deceased cyclist called for fair and speedy justice for their son.
“The justice I want is simple, and that is, those who murdered my son should also be killed. I thought my son would be the one arranging my burial, but now he was killed in a painful manner before I die. I want the government to kill those who also horribly killed my son so that I can be satisfied, too,” Korwu Voker, the deceased mother demanded through an interpreter.
The violent demonstration in Ganta on September 30 led to the death of two other persons and left several properties destroyed, among them the police station and the local offices of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency.
Justice Minister Sannoh also assured Ganta residents of an increase in the number of police officers in Nimba County.
He said the government is ready to increase and support the police with logistics and all other requirements that will help them implement their duties without hindrance.
“Many of the residents have expressed concern about the level of security in Ganta. We want to assure them that calm, peace and tranquility will be maintained. We will deploy additional police in Ganta and Nimba as a whole, and we want the citizens to feel secure because we have enough police officers in the various communities across the county,” he said.
While announcing the increase in police presence in the county, Minister Sannoh also announced the lifting of the moratorium on motorcyclists in Ganta, but cautioned that they should remain law abiding or else they will have themselves to blame if there should be a repeat of any violence.
For his part, Nimba County Superintendent Mr. Fong Zuagele, hailed the government for listening to the cries of the bereaved family members as well those whose properties were destroyed, and for lifting the suspension on commercial motorcycling.
The Sannoh delegation included the Coordinator of Joint Security of Liberia, Farfini Kamara, Information Minister Lewis Brown, Deputy Police Chief for Administration, William Mulbah, and Deputy Immigration Commissioner for Operations, Robert Budy, among others.