The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, has admitted that in spite of the existing peace in the country there are numerous internal elements that pose serious security threats to the country.
He made the statement at the opening of the October Term of Court of the Supreme Court on Monday in the presence of President Ellen Johnson.
The first, he said is the persistent threat posed by bike riders or pen-pen boys that have become a national security issue.
Bike riders, he said, continue to act with total disregard for law and order; constantly violating the rights of others, including properties, with impunity; consistently attacking and burning police stations, “which is an affront to the sovereignty of the state.”
Cllr. Sannoh made references to violent incidents involving bike riders across the country with the latest being the Ganta City saga in which properties worth thousands of United States dollars were destroyed.
Minister Sannoh noted that as the election year approaches, the potential for the manipulation of pen-pen boys for selfish political ends remains a clear and present danger.
He said it is also noteworthy that the increasing wave of lawlessness is not only limited to pen-pen boys, but has also extended into demonstrations, mob violence, even the total disregard of such basic laws as traffic laws, with many of citizens, including government officials, refusing to comply with the traffic rules.
The Minister said that the degree of lawlessness is also compounded by blatant disrespect of police officers, including verbal and physical assaults on their persons. “We have also seen radio stations operating without license from the Ministry of Information and the Liberia Telecommunication Authority in total violation of the laws,” he said.
“As there can be no progress in anarchy, the Executive (branch of government) gives notice that it will begin to act decisively against all tendencies toward deliberate violation of law and constituted authority.
“This government will and must maintain public order, for without public order, we cannot safeguard the fundamental rights of all our citizens and foreign residents in our midst. No person, or group of persons, is above the law and no one can challenge the authority of the government with impunity.”
In conclusion, Minister Sannoh highlighted three areas of concern that require collaborative effort between the Executive and Judiciary:
First, he said, has to do with the practice of serving Writs of Execution on Cabinet Ministers and heads of government departments for judgments against the government, some of whom are under threat being held in contempt for failing to satisfy the order contained in the writs;
Second is judgment in the economic arena, including the exorbitant money judgments rendered against the government by the courts, without full regard to the economic implications for the country, and; lastly, the capacity of this government to satisfy such judgment… exacerbated by the absence of adequate evidence of the injury sustained to warrant the judgment.
Meanwhile, Minister Sannoh assured Chief Justice Korkpor of the Executive Branch’s fullest support, particularly the Ministry of Justice, in the furtherance of the discharge of his duties during this October Term.