The Temple of Justice was a scene of shock this morning, November 02, 2020, when Archie Ponpon, head of Judicial Workers and a rights activist, set himself ablaze for the delay on the part of the Judiciary Branch of Government to pay their salaries owed for 12 months.
For the past weeks or months the workers have been in serious discontentment over delay in their Liberian component of their salaries and Ponpon, who doused himself with a liter of gasoline before lighting himself up, has been pressing on the Judiciary headed by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor to pay. At one point in time, Ponpon had laid flat under the back tire of the vehicle belonging to Chief Justice Korkpor after he, along with other workers had staged a protest in which the Liberia National Police brutalized the protesters.
Ponpon and others have been protesting on the grounds of the Temple of Justice, referring to Chief Justice Korkpor as “Rogue,” something internal sources say could lead to the dismissal of those involved, including Ponpon.
Ponpon was suspended because of the protest and allegations against the Chief Justice, and forwarded to the Justice Ministry for investigation and prosecution. Prior to setting himself ablaze, he had complained that he has been denied legal representation by lawyers owing to fear that they may be reprimanded for representing him since the case against him involves the Chief Justice.
This on a sunny Monday morning, Ponpon arrived a the Temple of Justice in a long-sleeve blue shirt, under a black long-sleeve zip-down sweater, under a blue blazer. Apparently he had threatened to set himself ablaze, but judicial security and authorities seemed to underestimate ponpon resolve to do what he did.
Ponpon set himself on fire, which blazed for about 35 seconds before people around him were able to put the fire out using water and trying to pull the layers of clothing off him. His face and hands were peeled from the fire and he groped around as though blind until a man helped him to mount a motorbike that rushed him to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center for treatment.