-Wants incident investigated; LNP, EPS conflict accounts on discovered guns
The Council of Patriots (COP) has filed a formal complaint to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), informing the ministry about vehicles belonging to some of its members being missing. The COP is, therefore, is calling on the MOJ to launch an investigation into the incident and ensure that the properties are retrieved.
“On behalf of the Council of Patriots, we sent this letter to formally complain about the breaking into and taking away of two vehicles belonging to two members of the COP,” the communication signed by the Secretary-General of the political pressure group said.
Both vehicles, the letter said, belong to Montserrado County District #10 Representative, Yekeh Kolubah, who is also an executive member of the COP.
The COP is currently the loudest critic of the George Manneh Weah government, as its members’ continual advocacy spur mass discontent among Liberians — a situation that has since led to sporadic protests in Monrovia.
The COP is also the organizer of the June 7, 2019 mass demonstration in Liberia, which was described as the biggest peaceful gathering in the history of Country. However, it was the sequel to the earlier protest on Monday that ended in chaos as state security officers, in a perceived quest to prevent protesters from cooking on the grounds of the protest, teargassed Liberians while at the same time spraying them with a water cannon.
It was during the course of this pandemonium that the COP officials left behind their vehicles that were parked in the premises of the National Legislature.
In its letter sent to the MOJ, the COP said that When the owners went to get their vehicles this morning they were shocked, observing their vehicles were broken into and taken to unknown locations from where the vehicles were parked.
“They informed us that they asked a few people if they had seen the vehicles and were told by a bystander that they saw men believed to be LNP officers breaking into and drove them away,” the letter indicated.
The COP is, therefore, beseeching the intervention of the MOJ not to only ensure that the vehicles are retrieved and returned to the owners, but that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
“We, therefore, request your intervention to ensure these vehicles are retrieved and returned to the owners and hold individual(s) who took them to bear the responsibility,” COP said.
Some of the materials, including an amplifier, laptop, three wireless microphones, 2.5 KVA generator, a sack of water, vehicle registration and insurance papers in the vehicles, the COP believes, were taken away.
“The Toyota SUV Green RAV4 (Plate #HOR -65) had vehicle registration and insurance papers, laptops computer, etc. These two vehicles belong to Hon- Yekeh Kolubah,” said COP.
The COP said that these vehicles were inspected by the Liberian national police and parked in the capitol building parking-lot along with other vehicles on 6 January 2020, during the peaceful gathering of Liberians to demand answers to the rapidly declining economic conditions under President George Weah.
For the most part of the day, the protest was peaceful until security officers began spraying peaceful protestors with hot water and teargas, leaving Representative Kolubah and other protestors to run helter-skelter over the grounds of the capitol building.
“It was due to this stampede, the owners of vehicles were unable to drive their vehicles away from the parking lot,” the letter said.
LNP, EPS Conflicting Accounts on Discovered Guns
Meanwhile, the LNP had stated earlier that it found several weapons including a 9-Millimeter Lugar black pistol with one magazine and four rounds and a barrister Pistol in two of the vehicles belonging to COP’s officials.
However, following the discoveries, Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue and the Director of the Executive Protection Services (EPS), Trokon Roberts, have given contradictory accounts surrounding the incident.
The two top security personnel spoke to the media on separate occasions after they searched three cars and claimed they found the guns.
According to IG Patrick Sudue, the vehicles were abandoned by protesters at the entrance of the Capitol Building and LNP officers drove them to their Police Headquarters, which is within the same vicinity.
According to him, he immediately ordered his officers to search the vehicles and while they were searching, they allegedly found the arms and ammunitions along with a knife and other deadly objects in the lawmaker’s official car, marked ‘HOR 65.’
Based on the discovery of the weapons, IG Sudue said he immediately halted the exercise and ordered his men to call the press to continue with the search in order to ensure transparency in the process.
For the EPS boss, he said immediately after the crowd was dispersed by the LNP, a source immediately called him and informed him that two of the cars used by the protesters had guns in them.
Though reluctant at first about the information, he decided to drive with few of his men to the Police Headquarters on Capitol Hill after incessant calls.
According to him, upon his arrival, he ordered the highest-ranking officer on the ground to search one of the impounded vehicles and when they discovered the pistols and the knife, he immediately called the Deputy LNP Inspector General for Operations, who was not on the scene of the alleged first search.
“I was home and got a hint that the white pickup that Hon. Yekeh Kolubah was using got a gun in it. I reluctantly contacted senior security from the DEA and 102 (Deputy Inspector General for Operations),” Mr. Roberts said.
“There is no point in carrying the group to something you have not seen; so when we drove at the Police headquarters, I asked for the senior Police officer on ground to do us a favor. I told him it is believed that this car is carrying a weapon, and I instructed them to search it and, in no time, a guy found the pistol and it was loaded. While there, I decided to call 102, and he came and I told him that I was informed the second car is also carrying a gun, and I think you (journalists) saw for yourself that it was loaded.”
Tina S. Mehnpaine (intern) contributed to this story.