Set Ablaze Speaker Chamber’s House, amid protest over the alleged murder of a motorcyclist
By S. Edward Stemn in Pleebo
The home of House Speaker, Dr. Bohfal Chambers was set ablaze by angry protesters in Pleebo Statutory District, Maryland.
According to Morris Sinneh, Chairman of the Motorcyclists Union Pleebo branch, the angry crowd torched the Speaker’s house after some bitter exchanges with officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) deployed in Maryland by the government of Liberia in the wake of the murder of a motorcyclist, Mordecial Nyemah, age 22.
“I cannot say that motorcyclists are the ones who burned the Speaker’s house because we were not the only ones in the protest; the entire citizens of the district got involved,” Sinneh said. “Let me make it clear that the burning of the Speaker’s house was not done by the cyclists, but the protesters that were angry over the firing of the teargas by the ERU.”
Mr. Sinneh further noted their protest had been peaceful since the murder of he commercial motorcyclist.
Sinneh also stated that the ERU fired teargas and live bullets in an attempt to get the protesters off the streets and remove the roadblock the aggrieved protesters had set up, which action escalated the violence in the county.
Gov’t property damaged
The protesters also hurled stones during the exchange of fights between them and the ERU in Pleebo City, Maryland County. The Motorcyclist Union Chairman also disclosed that the rivalry between ERU and protesters was the main reason for setting the Speaker’s house ablaze.
The protest comes few days after the police had apprehended one of the suspects involved in the killing. According to the police, the suspect was being investigated in accordance with due process of law before yesterday’s protest took place.
Angry over the murder, and other unsolved murder cases in the county, the protest took to the street at first peaceful but later got angry and engaged in wanton acts of destruction against private property and public facilities, including the burning down of police stations and other Government buildings.
They stormed the prison facility and eventually broke through, leading to the escape of several inmates, and several items including record books are said to have been taken away during the incident or damage. Still angry, the protesters also vandalized the Police Depot in Pleebo District leaving all office equipment, withholding cells, and documents destroyed.
The protesters also damaged the only LNP patrol vehicle in the county used for patrol, as well as wounding County Deputy Police Commander.
“The firing of the live bullets got two persons to sustain injuries and were taken to a nearby health facility, though it is not yet established that they were injured by the bullets,” said Sinneh.
The police have not been able to contain the protest in Harper and Pleebo, and because of the raging violence, judges or magistrates in Maryland have been ordered to close all the courts as the angry mobs continue on the rampage, vandalizing prison centers and demanding the suspect connected to the murder of the cyclist to be killed also.
‘Perpetrators will be punished’
Meanwhile, President George Weah has assured the people of Maryland County that this killing has claimed his attention, as such, a thorough investigation will soon start.
“The perpetrators will face the full weight of the law,” the President said, I admonish the residents of Maryland County not to take the law into their own hands, but to remain calm, peaceful, and law-abiding so that the criminal justice system can take its course.”
“Any grievances should and must be channeled through the legal process, as Government will not condone lawlessness and violence at any time and from anyone,” Pres. Weah added.
According to the President, because of the protesters’ action, his administrations is imposing Maryland County a curfew tomorrow that will last from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. until an order is restored.
“This curfew will be strictly enforced by the police, who will be supported by the Joint Security Forces. All residents of Maryland County are advised to take heed and govern themselves accordingly,” the President added.
On March 25, a murder case involving Mordecial Nyemah, age 22, appeared in court in Pleebo, and Moses Malmah, believed to be 18 years of age, was suspected to have committed the act.
Moses Malmah came to the spotlight in a liquor shop, where the operator of the provision shop observed blood on his clothes. When he was asked, Moses said he slaughtered a bull in the nearby bush, and that was the source of the blood on his clothes.
Moses’ facial expression and stare could not satisfy the woman and she called attention to Moses. In the process, a man appeared and asked Moses to take him to the slaughter spot, and, while in route, Moses asked whether the fact finder was a member of any society in Maryland.
The man responded that he was a member of a society there and that convinced Moses to show him the body that was lying in a pool of blood, promising to give him US$1,000 as an honorarium to keep the secret.
The man, however, refused the offer and reported the case to the Liberia National Police through a private security officer of Maryland Oil Palm Plantation who was on duty. The police in Pleebo city also turned the suspect over to the Maryland County Police Detachment Headquarters in Harper City due the increased tension from angry crowds who were demanding that Moses be turned over to them.
Speaking earlier, Motorcyclists Union Pleebo Branch Chairman, Morris Sinneh, said: “We have come here to you for a fair and speedy investigation to know all those that are involved in the killing our colleague. We, therefore, give you 48 hours ultimatum to tell us those names from your investigation that are connected to the alleged murder.”
Chairman Sinneh further said that motorcyclists in Maryland are always victims of circumstances, especially one that involves murder, citing an example of the late Bill Myers who was murdered in February of 2019 along the little Wlebo road in Harper District. “Up to now, we are yet to know who killed Bill Myers and there is total silence about his death. For this is the case, we will not rest until we know those who did this,” he lamented.
Opposition community concerned
The protesters’ action, according to the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) is deeply concerning, and worrisome for the country’s peace, given the fragility of it.
“CPP herewith categorically condemns in no uncertain terms these acts of lawlessness by the protesters, and calls on the Weah-led government to make immediate interventions and remedy the situation,” the CPP said in a release.
The release added given the fragility of the country’s peace, the CPP encourages Liberians, to, at all times, desist from engaging in acts of violence that are reminiscence of those things that plunged the country into fourteen years of senseless bloodbath and chaos.
“As a nation, we are yet to fully recover from the deadly consequences of the civil war. It is, therefore, unacceptable for citizens to knowingly resort to acts of destruction under the guise of expressing their frustration. It is absolutely disheartening for citizens of Liberia, particularly those residents in Maryland, to repeatedly fall prey to ritualistic killing while their government sits frivolously and does absolutely nothing to bring the scared murderers responsible for these crimes to justice. To this end, the CPP requests the government of Liberia to launch a manhunt for the perpetrators of these crimes as a means of allaying the fear of citizens of Maryland County,” the CPP release added.