-Contrary to police accounts of fatal accident along Monrovia-Gbarnga highwary
About eight lawyers claiming to be eyewitnesses to the February 10, 2019, tragic motor accident which involved the Executive Mansion Press vehicle and a vehicle belonging to former Associate Justice Wilkins M. Wright, on February 25, say the incident as reported by the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Executive Mansion are far from the real story.
Gabriel Wilson, a former employee of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, aka “Executive Horn”, and Reverend Victoria Wlue, both of whom were riding in Justice Wright’s vehicle, were the two that died at the Phebe Hospital where they had been taken for treatment.
Immediately after the incident that left the two dead, along with several other persons who were seriously wounded, the Executive Mansion, in a statement, said Wright, a former Solicitor General, “intruded into the presidential motorcade” around Donfa, near former President Charles Taylor’s Supermarket”, on the Gbarnga/Kakata Highway.
For the LNP, they said though they were still conducting an investigation surrounding the accident, their initial reports at that time had it that Cllr. Wright and his driver were under the “influence of alcohol.”
However, addressing a press conference yesterday in Monrovia, the lawyers, who are members of the Nimba County Bar Association, a segment of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), recommended that the Presidential Security Detail take measures to avert accidents of such nature, as it performs its responsibility of protecting the President.
“By this narration, we are hopeful that the truth will be established; the investigation will be transparent and the report credible and authentic; thereby ensuring that justice is done,” the lawyers maintained.
The lawyers, who signed yesterday’s press statement, are Cllr. Awia Vankan, president of Nimba Bar Association, as well as attorneys T. Emmanuel Tomah, Aaron Dayeker Kartee, Musa S. Sidibey, and Preston N.G. Karkerzeah.
Others include attorneys Allen F. Gweh, Evelyn Kou Lah and Kim A. Harris.
According to the lawyers, during the fateful Sunday, February 10, 2019, they were traveling from Monrovia to Sanniquellie, Nimba County, to attend the turnover ceremony of the leadership of Nimba County Bar Association (“Nimba Bar”) and the opening of the February Term of Court.
“We were traveling in a three-car convoy,” the lawyers said.
They claimed that the first car had four persons, including the secretary general of Nimba County Bar Association Attorney T. Emmanuel Tomah, attorneys Aaron Dayeker Kartee, Musa S. Sidibey and a rider (not named). The vehicle was driven by Attorney Sidibey.
The second car, they claimed, carried the President of Nimba County Bar Association Cllr. J. Awia Vankan and Attorney Karkerzeah, who was driving.
The third vehicle, the lawyers said, had four occupants, including vice president of Nimba County Bar Association Attorney Allen F. Gweh, attorney Evelyn Kou Lah, Kim A. Harris and a rider. The vice president, Attorney Gweh, was driving.
In their explanation, the lawyers alleged that somewhere towards Zeanzue, a town along the highway, “we encountered a navy and sky-blue Nissan Patrol jeep, which we identified as a Presidential Escort vehicle, heading towards Monrovia on the opposite lane, with the occupants waving at us to get off the road.”
This vehicle, the lawyers said, was on excessive speed; “a second vehicle, clearly marked Executive Mansion Press Car, a Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep, was driving very close behind the Presidential Escort vehicle, but on the lane designated for vehicles traveling from Monrovia to Gbarnga, and traveling at the same excessive speed as the Presidential Escort vehicle.”
“The first vehicle in their three-car convoy encountered the Presidential Escort vehicle on a straight stretch of the road. But when the driver, Attorney Sidibey, saw the Executive Mansion Press car, which was behind the Presidential Escort car, coming head-on to his vehicle, he abruptly swerved off the road, thereby avoiding a collision,” the lawyers said in the press statement. “The second car in our vehicle had a similar experience,” they added.
They said the third vehicle in their convoy was the nearest miss of the three vehicles, “because it had just emerged from a curve when the driver, Attorney Gweh, encountered the Presidential Escort vehicle; immediately the Executive Mansion Press car followed at very high speed on Attorney Gweh’s side of the road,” the lawyers, claiming to be eyewitnesses, said of the accident.
At this point, they said, the Executive Mansion Press car made no attempt to avoid colliding with Attorney Gweh’s vehicle, “while the female occupants began to scream, and Attorney Gweh, with the intervention of God, miraculously dodged the Executive Mansion Press car.”
“He was still struggling to park the vehicle off the road when the sound of the collision involving the Executive Mansion Press car and a Black Jeep was heard,” the lawyers claimed, adding: “We heard the collision and saw the impact of the accident, the ejection of the passengers through the windshields of the vehicles, the terrible injuries inflicted on the riders, etc.”
They alleged that it was only after the riders were removed from the vehicles and former Associate Justice Wilkins M. Wright, who was identified as one of the occupants, did they know that he (Justice Wright) was involved in the accident.
The former Justice was apparently also en-route to Nimba for the opening of court, according to the lawyers.
They said within about a minute of the accident, a large convoy of vehicles, preceded by another Presidential Escort car, arrived on the scene. “We saw President Weah disembark his presidential vehicle and personally participated in removing some of the victims.”
The lawyers said President Weah also reached over to their third vehicle where a group of them were standing and narrating the experience, and expressed his regret about the accident.
“The President remained on the scene for about 45 minutes until all the victims were removed from the wrecked vehicles, and then he directed several vehicles from his convoy to take the victims to Phebe Hospital, with the hope of helping them survive,” the lawyers said, speaking about Weah’s assistance after the accident. “We thanked the President for his humility, care and concern,” they added.
“We are very saddened that the accident claimed the lives of two of our compatriots. We convey our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and pray that God will heal their grief,” the lawyers said.
“We give eternal gratitude to God for saving our lives and the lives of those who survived the accident, including Justice Wilkins M. Wright. We wish speedy recovery to those nursing injuries. Indeed, many precious lives would have been cut short had it not been for the miraculous work of God Almighty,” the lawyers said.
“We give this account, as eye-witnesses, to the tragic motor accident, so that the Presidential Security Detail can take measures to avert accidents of such nature as it performs its responsibility of protecting the President,” the lawyers said.
“We are hopeful that the truth will be established, the investigation transparent and the report credible and authentic, thereby ensuring that justice is done,” the lawyers concluded.