Counselor Gongloe attributes threats by former fighters to Government’s failure to address impunity
Scores of people, predominantly of the Mandingo ethnic group, gathered on Monday, morning, April 25, outside of the Temple of Justice building to show their support to Mike Jabateh, who had been invited by the authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) for threatening remarks he made against Chief Justice Francis Korkpor.
Recently, Jabateh in his comments on Facebook live video during the eviction exercise in Ganta, issued death threats against the Chief Justice, accusing him of being behind land disputes in Ganta.
“If one Mandingo man is killed, we will kill Chief Justice Francis Korkpor,” Jabateh is quoted as saying.
It was based upon the threatening statement that the police cited Jabateh for Investigation.
Up to press time, Jabateh was still at the Headquarters of the LNP, where he is undergoing investigation.
But, surprisingly, Jabateh’s supporters turned their anger against the Chief Justice Korkpor, and the Temple of Justice building, where they seized the premises that housed the offices of the Supreme Court Justices and judges of lower courts.
Some of the Jabateh’s supporters particularly, the former rebel commander of the Liberia United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) bearing the dour name is Beard Beard, who once boasted of slaughtering hundreds of innocent people, was heard saying, “the Liberian people know this name ‘Beard Beard’ and they know what I am capable of doing. I am going to kill the Chief Justice, because he personally took part in the land dispute.”
Like Beard Beard, other supporters were heard openly threatening to destabilize the country’s peace and kill the Chief Justice.
The intervention of court officers prevented Jabateh’s supporters from entering the premises of the Temple of Justice. Though, some of them were seen climbing the walls of the gate.
Some even engaged in throwing water bags on the compound of the Temple of Justice.
To the dismay of onlookers and court staffers, absolutely nothing much was done by the police to calm the situation as they stood watching the court officers struggle to contain the unruly crowd. Jabateh is indisputably a staunch member of the ruling CDC, a status many presumed could be the reason why the police is reluctant to respond to action by his supporters.
Shortly after witnessing and hearing the threats of war and planned attack against the Chief Justice, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, president of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), termed the action as the result of failure to address impunity after the civil war.
“The reckless statement of Jabateh is a manifestation of the level of impunity and the refusal of the Government to adhere to the establishment of the war and economic crimes court.”
Cllr. Gongloe said the threat on the life of the Chief Justice is not against the Chief Justice alone, but others judges of the Judicial Branch of the Government.
According to Gongloe, the government should take the threat very seriously because it is going to instill fear in judges in the determination of cases around the country.
Cllr. Gongloe, meanwhile, disclosed that the LNBA is in the process of engaging communities around the country to solicit their support for a bill seeking the establishment of the war and economic crimes court as were recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
“We are going to engage our people throughout the country to ensure the establishment of a war and economic crimes court. This will ensure that those who committed serious crimes during the war will not go unpunished,” Gongloe further disclosed.
Recently, a group under the banner, The Zao Development Association, acting on behalf of the citizens of the Zao Township, expressed dismay that, days after the threats were issued against the head of such a strategic branch of government, there have been no public updates as to what security authorities have done so far.
“We believe allowing reckless statements such as the one coming from Mike Jabateh to go unquestioned and without the appropriate actions taken would only present Liberia as a free-for-all place where rule of law is not respected and where people are a law unto themselves,” the Zao association added.
The Zao people are also reminding the police and state security authorities to understand the sensitivity of the role of the Chief Justice in ensuring national peace; and therefore threats against his life should be of national, paramount concern.
“We, the citizens of Zao, also wonder why the tribal community Jabateh openly said he was defending in his verbal assaults has up to this date failed to condemn or dissociate itself from his reckless statement,” the Zao citizens said.
The statement further added that the entire joint security operation of Liberia should take seize on the matter and ensure the one issuing the threats is made to account for his action and the appropriate measures instituted to deter individuals from engaging in such malicious habits.
“We conclude this statement by reminding Jabateh and those who may be in support of his unfounded statements and threats that while the people of Zao stand for peace, their tolerance should never be misconstrued as being unable to hit back — and very hard — at any unscrupulous and misguided elements who have no regard for rule of law,” the release concludes.