Judicial Staffer Sets Himself Ablaze to Protest Pay Delay, Alleged Intimidation by Chief Justice

Flashback: Archie Ponpon's upper body engulfed in flames, which his colleagues try to extinguish with buckets of water

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.


  1. Our Liberian people really have a short memory. If they did not, they would not be shocked at this Leroy Archie Ponpon business as usual to buy public notice.

    Was this not the same insane sodomite and homosexual rascal who vowed to die on hunger strike if the Legislature did not make laws for man to marry man and woman to marry woman???

    It was this same Leroy Archie Ponpon who says Liberia should be a gay nation with man having sex with man.

  2. Concerned Liberian

    However, Mr. Concerned Liberian, does Mr. Ponpon’s personal beliefs justify the government not paying the judicial staffers for over 12 months now? Can you reconcile these two events for readers’ clear understanding?

  3. Donald Itoka, TO WHICH of Mr. Ponpon’s personal “beliefs “ are you alluding?

    (1) that a nation must enact laws for the lustful and abominable sexual urges of each and every citizen or foreigner in a country even at the destruction of a people’s culture, customs, traditions, and laws?

    (2)His personal “belief “ that in order to have a nation bend down backwards to his lustful homosexual desires, going on hunger strike is the solution?

    (3) Setting himself ablaze for salaries is a wise decision?

    (4) Or his “belief “ that quietly committing suicide for his personal desires not been honored and given him shall not give him the public attention he craves?

    Donald, when you have pointed out which of the aforementioned “beliefs “ of Mr. Ponpon, you are alluding to, we shall proffer you the “clear understanding “ you yearn.

  4. Mr. Concerned Citizen, you have confused your readers more than offering clear, tangible explanations. Mr. Ponpon, a participant in the judicial staffers protests, set himself ablaze because of growing frustrations over their pay.

    And in your response, you state he is a homosexual. So, are you saying because of his sexual orientation, government should deny them collectively their due compensation? What does his sexual orientation have to do with what he has worked for and legally earned? How can you compare a person’s legally earned wages with the authorities’ refusal to pay him?

    What is the logic behind your explanations? Let me surmise you are not a gay man, right? What if you chose to be one, then who did impose the behavior on you? Nobody imposed such a choice on you. You consciously chose it as a matter of personal preference.

    Now, what would your sexual, personal preference have to do with your legal performance of professional services and duties to the government or whatever entity you maybe working for, but whenever you request for pay all you receive is outright recalcitrance and a run-around? Would it not be perplexing and frustrating? Adding insults to injuries, this goes on for months with no end in sight.

    I really want to see what cogent argument you can give for any rational person to buy into your logic.

    • My mehn, if you can dodge your own chunk or rock of meaningless comparisons you keep throwing for public sympathy, it’s best you excuse the podium and let a better speaker mount it and make sense to us. This is not politics. What is at play here is a desperate man calling attention to what is commonly a ‘new normal’ in this country. Working without being paid is a normal occurrence with us now. But that doesn’t make it acceptable to concerned minds. In a civilized nation,candy a democracy at that rate, people are paid for their services rendered to government or private bodies. And someone willing to draw attention to that issue should not be grounds for ridiculing them. And this is what you are exactly doing.. What is your problem?While I do not support Archie Pontoon for wanting to commit support suicide, it is equally a reminder to the government of the day that they have a duty to perform of which they are not doing.

  5. Why Archie Ponpon should wickedly planned to takeaway his lifein such a manner under the disguise of advocacy? This have no substantial prove about his suicidal behavior. Only a fool or someone’s that don’t have good plan for his life can behaves such a cowardly manner. Since he is openly known gay, he don’t have any dependant to take care of that’s he has been involved in so many life threatening controversies.

    He may have a logical case for demanding for the reward of their labors, but acting in such a terrorist manner looks scaring and sent a strong message to all of the judges in this country. Holding unto the renumeration of workers for so many months may have no true backing, while it is true that these people are sacrificing their lives to serve their country, equally so their families need to survive. The judiciary need to do whatever they can to settle their workers in order to curtail untold situation at their various working places across the country.

    However, it is time for the judicial branch to take a hard looks of employees characters survey most especially the like of Archie Ponpon who is in the constant habit of leading his colleauges to take brash actions against their superiors.

    • My brother, if you are to experience the difficulties that Archie Ponpon experienced or is experiencing, you wouldn’t have ask such question. A worker has one source of income especially in Liberia and imagine not receiving the salary that is due unto you for a year, how do you think he’s been paying his rent or doing whatsoever emergency things. This does not require a psychiatrist to understand that frustration and desperation made him to set himself ablaze.
      Everyone including you and me has a breaking point, for you this was stupid but for him it was the last option seeing he went to court with others protested with others for their salaries but couldn’t receive any of their compensation not even for a month shows the fault or cracks in our system and shows that the well being of civi workers isn’t on this administration list. So please before judging try seeing from Archie’s perspective.

  6. Regardless of Archie’s state of mind, which only a psychiatrist that examined him can determine, his attempted self-incineration is referred to as “flames of protest”, and has been successfully carried out for religious or political reasons in different countries since the mid 1960’s. Vietnam, Korea, Milan, Oslo, Tibet and so on came to mind, and in Algeria self-immolation by a petty trader triggered the Arab Soring.

    Of course, suicide was used before to escape hardships. I remember few in Gbarnga by former rebels until Ebola came and overshadowed those tragedies. However, this public attempt is different, and sends a profoundly powerful message to the political leadership. It cannot be explained away by shaming him. Instead, the logical response is putting processes in place to first pay rank and file their pennies, then the pounds (£) of justices.

    • So Sylvester Bagdhad Moses still has heart in that withering frame he shuttles around, after all? Who would have thought this mischief-making ex-director of the notorious National Assassination Servises was capable of this level of empathy as demonstrated about this incident. Bagdhad Mose, that regime apologist? But I’ve warned him before, that you live contrary to your God-imbued humanity and all because of “Thirty pieces of silver,” you will atone for it in the final analysis, either here or “yonder.” The choice is yours. Darn double-crossing mercenary. By thy fruits!…

  7. Michael S. Solee

    You asked a good question, “Why Archie Ponpon should wickedly planned to take away his life in such a manner under the disguise of advocacy?” The answer to this question is beyond the scope of my expertise as I am not a psychiatrist and neither do I have training in psycho-social behavior.

    However, sometimes we only need to examine some of the injustices that are brought on the lives of everyday people, and then we will be able to determine many probabilities of why people do some acts which they may not do other wise under normal circumstances.

    Also, levels of tolerance differ particularly from one individual to another. The injustices you might have the endurance for, another person may not have the endurance for such injustices. They will only take sufferings for so long and after that, they’re willing to do anything without studying the consequences. For example: Why do terrorists get in a plane and bomb it without having a second thought their lives could also be taken?

    So, a good solution is for government to do the right thing by its citizens. Like you said and I agree with you on this point, if people work for any entity and they are not paid, their lives are gravely affected including the livelihood of their families.

    I think people should be very careful how they judge others because if the shoes were on their feet they would even do worst than the ones they are judging. I live in the United States and I thank God that I am blessed. On the other hand, I do pray for my Liberian brothers and sisters some of whom may not be doing well for reasons that are beyond their control and may not be of their own making. Given if the circumstances were the other way around, they would have even be doing far better than many of their merciless critics.

  8. The unfortunate thing about it is that the people ruling the country do not have human hearts to know they need to pay people so that they can care for their families.
    Wicked set of criminals calling themselves pro-poor government.
    Bunch of hooligans preying on the blood of good and innocent people.
    God will punish you and your offspring!

  9. Mr. Ponpon has a right to demand his pay which is in arrears. Putting myself in Ponpon’s shoes, I cannot survive for two months if my employer is unable to pay me.

    If the government is unable to pay its employees in full because of harmonization, I am very sure that the government of Mr. Weah can give a monthly stipend of at least $25 across the board to all lower-level employees.

    A Brief Story:
    A private school teacher in Liberia became frustrated because like Ponpon, he couldn’t get his little paycheck. In order to put bread and butter on the table, the gentleman told his students to bring one cup of rice (not cassava or eddoes) to class because of a science experiment he had planned. Luckily, the poor students obliged. The rice was brought to class. But a parent of one of the students came to
    the school in order to see the planned science experiment. Upon arrival on campus, the parent consulted with the principal. When the principal went to the teacher’s classroom, but, no
    science experiment was done. So the principal asked….why did you do that Mr. X? Mr. X responded…”I did it because I have to eat”. In the end, the principal was pressured. He paid his teachers a monthly stipend!

    Ponpon’s Protest:
    Setting himself on fire in order to call attention to the fact that he and his colleagues have not been paid for 12 months is not a wise operation. There are less dangerous forms of protest. In fact, by setting himself ablaze, Ponpon may have set a negative precedent. Example, a woman who feels that her husband isn’t giving her what she deserves may decide to set herself ablaze as a form of protest! Or a guy who feels that his girlfriend is dishonest, may decide to set himself on fire because of that. As Mr. Ponpon lays sick with fire burns in the hospital, how will he sponsor his partner or family? Once again, Ponpon has a legitimate reason to protest, but setting himself on fire lowers his self-esteem.

    Final Thought:
    Harmonization as I understand it, helps the government in terms of saving money. But I think harmonization needs to be modified. There’s no money. I fully understand. But I think one-fourth of employee’s salary should be paid.

    Example of harmonization:
    Divide the number 4 by any amount:
    If an employee used to earn $200 per month, just do this… $200÷4 =. $50 every month until things get better!


  10. Corrections:

    1. Should be, “when the principal went to the teacher’s classroom, no experiment was done”. Excuse the word “but”.

    2. Should be, ” one-fourth of employees’ salary should be paid.”

    Grasias amigos.

  11. Wow, when the shoes is not on your foot, you don’t really feel the pains like the person wearing it.
    Divide someone’s salary into 4 to keep up with harmonization?
    Grand Frere, it’s disheartening to hear such recommendation from you.
    The least any normal administration should be able to do is to maintain regular salary payments. Why will you fight your way into a position just to destroy people’s lives? We are not asking the CDC to create 100,000 jobs, it’s impossible for them. All we need from them is to maintain people’s salaries coming on a monthly basis. Do you want to see a popular uprising, like the rice riot, before you know and understand that in a normal society, people get paid for the jobs they do?

    When will my country become a land of joy and happiness again!

  12. Mr. Defender,
    Let me do you a favor by answering your questions.

    1. Dolo….
    When will my country become a land of joy and happiness again?
    Liberia becomes joyful and happy when Alexander Benedict Cummings and his disorganized opposition decide to butt out of politics in Liberia.

    2. Dolo….
    The shoes of hardship are not being worn by you.
    You’re right. Although I am not there physically with them in Liberia, I feel their pain. My younger brother recently resigned from his job because he hasn’t been paid since March of this year. To tell you the truth, I am forced to send a remittance to him every month. I really, really feel their pain.

    3. Dolo…
    It’s disheartening to hear such a recommendation from you.
    It shouldn’t be disheartening partner. I have made a suggestion. I want the employees to be fully paid. It makes sense to pay at least one-fourth of one’s salary every month. It hurts and doesn’t make sense to work for a twelve-month period without being paid at all. I am not calling for a salary reduction. My point is this…. when things get better, the unpaid employees will get their arrearages.

    4. Dolo….
    You’re fighting your way through…
    No I am not. Frankly, it’s a form of helping people. The concept of harmonization hurts. I think harmonization needs some form of modification. Understand that.

    I agree totally. The government is obliged to keep and abide by its obligations. But I strongly believe that changes are needed. Without any changes, more brave men and women could do more than burning themselves. Won’t you agree?

  13. Mon frere,
    You’re wrong. In his own words in Scranton, PA, today, Biden said this is his greatest moment. I think that the American people will give him the nod. Remember this, it’s Biden’s third try for the presidency. Despite all their trouble, the American people are thoughtful and considerate. Don’t go to bed soon. It’s probably going to be a very long process.

  14. Brother-in-law Kimba,
    I am glued to the TV. I will give you as much information tonight as I can.

    Early returns…Trump has won the state of Indiana. Indiana is a red state. Indiana has 11 electoral votes. The contenders need 270 minimum.

  15. BIL Kimba,
    So far, Biden has 51 electoral votes to Trump’s 26. But the electoral numbers go up as a candidate wins. Minimum needed…270.

    The battleground states of Pennsylvania and Florida are being watched. Texas is a toss up.

  16. First of all, Delaware is not a city but rather a state. There’s happiness in Delaware because Biden has won his state. With regard to people leaving Delaware because Biden is facing some headwinds, I’d say don’t go there! It’s rough, but we’ll go all the way to the end.

  17. Have you seen now that the polls are misleading?
    Trump will win just 3 states and leave Pennsylvania with Biden, since he desprately wants that state.

  18. The whole world is currently glued to TV sets. America, the greatest and unique democracy that every nation wishes to emulate, is being disgraced by desperate democrats. These are examples African dictators like to emulate. It is indeed regrettable that at this time, we have not heard the speech of the elected president of America.
    See why it was important to quickly confirm Justice Amy Barrett?

  19. Kimba,
    It’s 4:36. am. I just woke up. Frankly, I didn’t have a good night’s sleep.
    We are at a standstill. For now, Biden has 224 electoral college votes to Trump’s 213. The votes are still being counted.

  20. Mr. Hney,

    Will you folks be able to get the total tally early? I understand that the ballots that were mailed have not been counted yet. True?

    As for us, we are now awake here. It is past 9am here onwards to 10am

  21. Defender,
    Let’s turn to the first page. You had argued all alone that Klacik of Baltimore would win. As it turns out, she was mightily beaten.

    Polls are always not accurate. Polls give us an idea of where a particular candidate stands. There’s something called “Bradley effect”. I don’t have the time to explain it right now because I am involved with other things. But I urge you to download the issue of Bradley effect. It may have happened in the three crucial states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    There’s no need to panic. If Trump wins, he wins. We will live with him. But the votes are still being tallied. Just hang in there.

  22. Kimba,
    You’re right on the ball! At this time, no one knows when the vote count will end. Both candidates and their supporters are on a pause.
    Frankly, it may take days before it can be determined who winner is.

  23. Defender of the Weak,
    You’re making an analogy that doesn’t hold water. The Amy Barrett connection has absolutely nothing to do with why the winner in this contest hasn’t spoken. Amy Barrett’s appointment and confirmation was rushed through. It shouldn’t have happened like that.

    You said that the world watches the US. That’s a fact! But Trump’s behavior in terms of how he rushed through the appointment of Mrs. Barrett is something that people won’t photocopy. Trump became surprisingly apoplectic and unconventional.

    Potential presidential candidates in Liberia, especially the opposition candidates that we know all too well are weak! Those candidates should be stopped. It will be suicidal for people who are weak and disorganized to be given the opportunity to govern Liberia. God forbid. Should it happen, I will sell my property in Liberia to the Indians and pack up.

    For your information, Biden is in the lead in Wisconsin.

  24. Grand Frere,

    As I always told you, I prefer a weak man in Liberia who cares about human lives, a person qualified to create more jobs and pay Liberians regularly with a better living wages.
    I hate strong and organized murderers, compulsive liars with no innovations and creativity.

    As for Klacik, I was disappointed with her performance at first hand. But when I took a look at the caliber of the person she was running against, I took her defeat as a baptism of fire.

    I know about polls and understand how to interpret them. I told you to never make conclusions from numbers from the polls, know how to relate polls with momentum and how the individual appeals to a given population of people.
    Trump’s victory in Florida, for example, means he resonated with the Latinos. How will you believe a poll that will give Biden a win in Texas? In fact, the margin in that state has always been narrowed because of Trump’s bashing of the Bush’s dynasty. In the same way, never accept a poll that will give a republican candidate winner in California.
    However, few presidents have stood out and resonated with even democratic and republican presidents. Abraham Lincoln did, Bill Clinton was always an exceptional and fantastic candidate, Obama resonated with republican states, Trump won blue states in 2016.

    Biden will not win Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, and North Carolina. Biden and the democrats want to delay the results in Pennsylvania, but they will have a sad day today by the time Trump secures the 270 electorate votes.

  25. You’re out of step with reality. Right now as I write, Biden leads Trump in Wisconsin. The red state of Arizona has been cautiously called for Biden. Not me, the pundits are the ones to listen to. Biden will eek it out..
    I am out to work.

  26. Mr. Defender,

    No, no, no! Don’t quit like that. Biden is winning. There are no ifs and buts. Let me ask this question…. when you say you’re “quitting politics, are you referring to American politics or your ANC politics?

    Look man, in the face of adversity, you cannot walk your way out. Quitting politics because of its viciousness exposes you as a gentleman who cannot be depended on. Your bosom buddy Alexander Benedict Cummings will be disappointed in you if you quit.

    You have proclaimed the news of Trump with pizzazz. This is not the opportune time to quit buddy. By the way, when did you come to the understanding that “politics is vicious”? Please don’t quit like a coward. You should use this precious time to defend Trump.

    Mon Frere, even if you want to quit politics, I won’t let you. I will hound you like Cllr. Frederick Jayweh who accuses people he disagrees with as “heartless” people. Are you heartless?

    Trump wants a recount of the votes in Wisconsin because Biden has won by a razor thin margin. But guess what? When Trump won Wisconsin in 2016, he won by approximately 10,000 votes. He was not challenged.

    Trump is demanding that the counting of votes should be stopped in Michigan. Michigan has been transferred in Biden’s column with its 16 electoral college votes.. Because of that, Biden is nearing the magic number of 270 electoral college votes. On the other hand, Trump has no authority to demand any state from performing its civic duties.

    Starting tomorrow, if I see any of your posts, I will draw you into politics.

    • Mr. Hney,

      You had me laughing almost as hard as Mr. James Davies. Why would you want to hound Mr. P. Dolo if he realizes that “politics is vicious” and that he has decided to quit from it?

      Leave your “Mr. Defender” alone and let him quit if he wants to.

      I dont see any end in sight soon for your American elections resuslt. Donald Trump called a press conference to announce his victory? can he do that if the ballots are still being counted?

      Politics is indeed vicious. Thank God I am a businessman.

  27. Comrade Hney,

    You know very well that this election could have been won by either candidate in both Florida and Ohio. You know it. Leave the biased polls, realistically, you know this fact. Surprisingly to the democrats, Trump won both states. And then things started being blocked in some democrat-run states, why couldn’t all results be called before 3am to enable partisans to celebrate or cry?

    I know you will evoke the case of Bush & Al Gore and then voting by mails as examples of instances of such.
    The case of Bush & Al Gore was a technical fault recognized and accepted by both candidates, and so they both agreed to recount until the Supreme Court passed its judgment to annul the recount.
    Voting by mails took place in nearly all states including California, Florida, Ohio etc. Those votes were to be in by election date, which was the case for many states, showing Biden in the lead in states like Texas and Florida upon the closing of polls. Most Republicans voted in person to facilitate the counts and ensure easy and fair victory.

    Unless you want to teach me American politics anew, but objectively, no one can imagine that Biden can win Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, especially given his campaign platform that may hurt both states.
    Arizona is even unthinkable for Biden. What political analysis or conviction can you give for this win?
    I know you will want to convince me that Biden can win in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, based on what political platform or policy?

    The USA is NOT Liberia. Americans vote for their interests. Can you convince me that Americans in those states agree to pay between 50-62% in taxes?
    Have the oil workers in those states agreed to let go fracking and adopt clean energy? Have they agreed to go without their livelihoods?
    Are American farmers in those states willing and ready to accept disloyal competition with farmers of other powerful countries (China, etc.)?

    Nothing is logical on what has been done. What is unfolding is a war waged on morality and divinity.
    A Biden’s win is another tension and plague in the world. Beware, for those of you our people in the USA, you will be subjected to more police violence than never.

    The devil is in the details in Trump’s defeat!

  28. BIL Kimba,
    I hope you are doing great! I am glad you didn’t do the James Davis laugh. You are a very good guy. A person who does 20 laughs with his or her mouth wide open should be socially distanced because of Covid-19 and flies. 🙄

    Mon petite Frere, Mr. Defender is a genuine patriot! We certainly do not agree with one another on some pertinent issues, but for the most part, there are commonality of interests.

    Dolo has to explain two things:
    1. How does he know that politics is vicious and why did he reach such a conclusion and

    2. Which brand of politics is mon frere quitting:
    A. The American brand or
    B. The Liberian brand which embodies ANC/CoP/ & CPP? If my request is being ignored, I will solicit the legal assistance of cllr. Frederick Jayweh, the firebrand who nukes his accusers as heartless people.

    American politics at a glance…
    Trump is a funny guy. While the election was ongoing on the 3rd, Trump came out to claim victory. That’s unprecedented.
    This is the right time for Dolo to show support for Trump. But strangely in the heat of a fight (like the Amingo Brothers), Mon Frere Dolo bows out without an explanation. That’s unfair!

    Question: Am I being vindictive?

  29. Mr. Defender,
    You’ve once again unleashed a bundle of issues. As always, I will respond to each of them as much as I can.

    1. Realistically, no one knew whether Trump or Biden would have won outrightly just by winning in Florida and Ohio. The pundits who are very good at this game told us initially that Biden had more paths to get to the magic number of 270 than Trump. In addition to Ohio and Florida, Trump needed more states, it didn’t work! Traditionally, the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania are blue states. Unfortunately due to Hillary Clinton’s inability to win three of the blue states, Trump won. Biden’s strategy was to re-claim the blue states. Obviously, Biden’s strategy is paying off. But, Trump is miffed. Trump is behaving worse than a buffoon! Because of embarrassment, Trump has not been heard from since Tuesday. He is in a semi- seclusion.

    2. Dolo: Election results should have been called at 3 am.
    Response: No Sir! Don’t set rules as Trump does. There’s not a rule of thumb that dictates the announcement of elections at 3 am. States have different laws regarding mail-in ballots and provisional ballots. Both types of ballots are valid and they deserve to be legally counted. The ballots are still being counted. It would have made no sense for the election result to have been announced while other ballots were being counted.
    Secondly, more people voted this year than ever before in the history of the US. Because of that, it was not as easy as it was in previous years for an election to have gone this far. Again, the pundits tell us that Covid-19 somehow propelled or motivated most people (who have never voted before) to vote this time. Particularly among the first time voters were African Americans and Hispanics who were hard hit by of Covid-19.

    I cannot teach you American politics. Political Science was not my major. But like you, I know a few things about American politics. Because I live here, I write about what I see. More to come…

  30. Correction….
    Should be hard hit by Covid-19. See item 2, last sentence.

    Until then, have a great day. Eat sensibly. Be calm. Unlike me, do your exercise. Don’t do twenty laughs over something that’s senseless.

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