-Senator Steve Zargo “assaulted by CDC militants”
Hundreds of people on Thursday, April 25, 2019 fled for safety from the grounds of the Legislature on Capitol Hill due to a scuffle that erupted between militants of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and several militants from the opposition Liberty Party (LP).
The scene, which became chaotic, gradually escalated into full blown fracas, leaving few persons injured, eyewitnesses have informed the Daily Observer.
It all started when the planned requiem for the fallen Lawmaker of Montserrado District 15, Representative Adolph Lawrence, was reportedly prevented from being held at that venue, as was announced earlier.
According to eyewitnesses, it all happened when suspected militants of the CDC entered the grounds of the Capitol Building chanting provocative battle cries and songs associated with dances depicting the use of violence.
The CDC group, holding a banner picture of President Weah, sang songs like, “what kind of protest we have not heard before; we are not afraid, and we are here”. Others made statements condemning the opposition for what they alleged has been a series of hate messages aimed at the CDC-led government.”
While this was unfolding, Senator Steve Zargo of Lofa County, who is also the national chairman of the Liberty Party (LP), arrived at the entrance of the Rotunda accompanied by a few members of his party’s task force, but the CDC militants violently prevented the Senator and entourage from entering the Capitol.
The CDC militants, who overpowered the security personnel of the Legislature, took control of the entrance to the Rotunda and insisted that the Sen. Zargo would not enter with his entourage, because they (CDC militants) too were asked out of the Rotunda earlier.
According to eyewitness accounts, CDC militants allegedly assaulted and forcibly drove Sen. Zargo and members of party’s task force from the premises of the Capitol.
In reaction to those developments at the Capitol yesterday, Police Spokesman, H. Moses Carter, said nobody was arrested, because doing so would have exacerbated the situation.
“Although I was not in Monrovia at the time of yesterday’s incident, my officers informed me that other than verbal exchanges, there was no physical contact,” Carter said.
However, according to Sen. Zargo, “I was going into the Rotunda to inquire from the chairman of the CDC, Mulbah Morlu, whether he was aware that his supporters had besieged the entrance to the facility, thereby preventing the body of our fallen colleague to enter the building, when I came under attack from the CDC guys.”
According to him, he was not only denied entry to the Rotunda, but assaulted by individuals believed to be militants of the CDC. “They hit on me and their action prevented the holding of the requiem in honor of our fallen colleague,” Zargo narrated, noting that the requiem was to be held at his home in Logan Town where the late representative lived prior to his death in a tragic motor accident on March 25, 2019 .
It may be recalled that the Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence (widow) informed government that she and her family were adequately prepared to bury her husband independently. She said there was no need for government to spend money for her husband’s burial since there are several other challenges confronting the CDC-led government in the face of the country’s economic hardship.
In the wake of her request, President Weah visited Sen. Karnga-Lawrence, and appealed to her to reconsider her decision to allow the late Representative to receive a state funeral as it has been done to all departed statesmen to which she reportedly concurred.
However, yesterday’s ugly events, according to some family members, suggest that they were the product of conscious and deliberate planning intended to sabotage the holding of the official requiem for the late Representative as was done for other legislators who died in service.
Another ‘attacked’ person
In a related development, T. Nelson Seakoh, a staff in the office of Rep. Byron Brown alleged that he was attacked and slapped many times by some of the suspected CDC militants. “Several of them slapped me repeatedly, because I condemned their violent action that disrupted the planned requiem for Adolph Lawrence.
“I said that in case they want to take ownership of a dead body, they should kill President Weah or better, the CDC chairman Mulbah Morlu,” Seakoh told the Daily Observer. “For that, you can decide who attends the funeral. Anyone going against your wish can be penalized but, as for the late Adolph Lawrence, we all have a part to play. He was a stakeholder, not only for the CDC and Montserrado District #15, but for the country,” Seakoh said.
In his reaction, CDC national chairman, Mulbah Morlu said the opposition should not use the CDC as a scapegoat for the disruption of normal activities planned for the state funeral of Rep. Lawrence. Morlu blamed Sen. Zargo and his supporters for the violent encounter.
On his Facebook page, Morlu wrote: “The weak and acrimonious opposition need to stop being disingenuous and make haste to explain the actual facts of the disruptive acts of violence they staged with their own hands, right before the eyes of the media and the public.”
“We were already peacefully seated in the Rotunda of the Capital Building awaiting the arrival of the mortal remains of our late partisan, and then heard that LP partisans backed by Sen. Zargo had tried to violently bulldoze their way into the Capitol Building, leading to exchanges with the Police.
“This unruly action on display at the Capitol Building did not start there. They had carried out similar provocation at the Samuel Stryker Funeral Parlor, preventing CDCians from coming anywhere close to the Hearse/vehicle bearing the mortal remains of Partisan Adolph Lawrence.
“One only needs to look at pictures and videos of the march from Stryker to the Capitol Building, and will agree that the incident of violence and disruption was calculated way ahead of time by the LP and UP, and it was intended to deny Hon. Lawrence the deserved dignity of a State Funeral at the Capitol Building, where the CDC had sent and supported him to work for his people,” he said.
“As always, the CDC remains a party of love and tolerance, which explains the huge attendance of our partisans in genuine outpouring of grief and sympathy to the bereaved family as we continue to mourn the death of comrade Adolph Lawrence,” he added.
Meanwhile, some Lawmakers told the Daily Observer that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers, had again failed to show leadership on the grounds of the Capitol during the scuffle that ensued between the two sides.
Representative Larry Younquoi of Nimba County Electoral District #8, said he and some of his colleagues of the independent legislative caucus (ILC) along with some other lawmakers, including CDC Lawmakers and Montserrado Legislative Caucus met with Speaker Chambers and expressed their disappointment in his failure to come out of his office to take responsibility to ensure there was no disruption of the program.
“We have said on numerous occasions that Speaker Chambers and a number of our colleagues need to rise to the occasion. We have to prove to our people that this Legislature is a transformed Legislature,” Younquoi said.
Prior to yesterday’s incident, which led to the cancellation of a state requiem for Rep. Lawrence, eyewitnesses said they saw the Speaker arrive at the Capitol under tight security but did not stop to speak to anyone around the Rotunda, neither did he even enter the Rotunda or came out to inquire why there was noise and fighting around the facility.
Meanwhile, amidst the fracas, the family of the late Rep. Lawrence opted to redirect the cortège to his constituency in Logan Town. The body was later returned to the funeral home and that evening, the wake, held at the Paynesville City Hall, went on without any disruption.