-Situation turns Monrovia chaotic ahead of June 7 protest
Just as arrangements between the Council of Patriots and the Government of Liberia throught the Ministry of Justice appeared to be going cordially and agreeably well concerning the much-publicized June 7 “peaceful protest,” Monrovians woke up on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 to news that police had barricaded the home of Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah in an attempt to arrest him on charges of “attempted murder.”
Rep. Kolubah is accused of ordering one of his security guards to flog a young man, believed to be a resident of his district for “misconduct and stealing of the lawmaker’s smartphone.” In a slight change in the narrative, so-called eyewitnesses, who preferred anonymity, alleged that Rep. Kolubah’s bodyguard (not named) brutally flogged Emmanuel Freeman at 2:00 a.m. on the alleged order of Kolubah for “spewing insults at the lawmaker”.
The presence of police officers at Kolubah’s residence yesterday morning sparked tension on the part of the lawmaker and his supporters, but was calmed down only upon the arrival of Bomi County District #1 Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, and a host of other key planners of the June 7 protest.
Snowe heads the Liberian delegation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Along with ECOWAS monitors who are in the country to observe the planned June 7 protest, Snowe helped escort Kolubah from Old Road to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on Capitol Hill.
Whether true or not, circumstances surrounding Rep. Kolubah’s arrival at the LNP headquarters was eclipsed by news that Police had arrested the leader of the University of Liberia (UL) Student Unification Party (SUP), Carlos Tingba Edinson.
Edinson and two other SUP members, Willie Bombo and Little Yealu (all Nimbaians) were picked up by the police, while they were climbing the stairs to the university campus from the side of the Jallah Town road.
The action of the police, which reportedly aggravated a number of the students on the UL Campus, led to a riot that resulted into stone-throwing allegedly master-minded by the some of the students and the police use of tear gas to disperse them.
In the confusion that ensued, some of the students reportedly blocked the main streets between the UL campus and the Capitol Building, thus creating heavy traffic grid.
Shortly after police dispersed the students, some of them regrouped and marched to the LNP headquarters demanding the release of their colleagues, or else there will be no peace.
The police, too, on order of their commanders in charge, reengaged the students by compelling them to return to their campus without disturbing the “peace.”
While the police were pushing the students away from the LNP headquarters, tough talking radio host, Henry Pedro Costa and the political leader of the All Liberian Party, Benoni Urey, arrived on the scene and appealed to the students to calm down as they were going to engage the police to release their colleagues.
In the confusion, UL student Martin Bobby Sellee said government is infringing on the rights of people ahead of the planned June 7 protest. Sellee alleged that the arrest of Edinson and his colleagues, as well as inviting Rep. Kolubah to the LNP headquarters to answer to questions on the alleged flogging of Emmanuel Freeman are tactics to silence the “strong voices.”
“The government is designing means that people do not exercise their constitutional rights,” Sellee alleged.
In a Facebook post, Martin K. N. Kollie, secretary General of SUP, called the Weah-led government “an opposition to itself. The arbitrary arrest of Chairman Carlos Edison et al is an unprovoked attack on the youth and student community of Liberia. We vehemently condemn the continuous attack, harassment and intimidation against Rep. Yekeh Kolubah by this regime.”
Search and Seizure
While it is not clear while why Edinson and his colleagues were arrested and not released up to press time last night, the Judge of the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice, Kennedy Peabody, served a search and seizure warrant on Rep. Kolubah through the LNP. The warrant was for a search of Rep. Kolubah’s residence on the Old Road, following a complaint by government based on an alleged tip-off regarding a stockpile of weapons brought into the country by the Lawmaker.
Judge Peabody issued the writ as a result of an application from Montserrado County Chief Prosecutor, Cllr. Edwin Martins consistent with Chapter 11, section 11.1 and 2 of the Criminal Procedural Law of Liberia.
Meanwhile, after the search by the court sheriffs and the LNP, it was established that nothing was found in the home of the lawmaker.
Chapter 11, section 11.1 of the criminal procedural law states that: “A search warrant may be issued by magistrate, justice of peace, or any other judicial officer empowered to perform such function, whose jurisdiction encompasses the area within the property sought is located.”
Section 11.2 states: “A warrant may be issued under the provisions of this chapter to search for and seize the followings, such as stolen or embezzled, illicit, forfeited, or prohibited properties, contraband, and instruments or other articles designed or intended for use, or which have been used, as a means of committing a criminal offense.”
The writ was issued after a heated clash among security personnel, supporters of Rep. Kolubah and some UL students, particularly members of SUP, who demanded the release of the lawmaker.
Up to the writing of this story, LNP spokesman H. Moses Carter did not respond to phone calls requesting comment on Wednesday’s events.
Unanswered questions regarding allegations of attempted murder and “tip-off” about “stockpiles of arms at the home of Rep. Kolubah” leave pundits to believe that, ahead of the June 7 protest, of which Kolubah is one of the organizers, the Weah Administration may be looking for some wrong to pin on the lawmaker, as a way to discredit the protest one way or another.
Meanwhile, the Council of Patriots, organizers of the June 7 protest, is expected to meet with the Ministry of Justice to iron out final plans for the scheduled protest. Members of the Council of Patriots include Rep. Kolubah, Senators Oscar Cooper of Margibi and Sando Johnson of Bomi, Henry Costa, Abraham Darious Dillon of the opposition Liberty Party, and a host of others.