Motorcyclists Burn 2 Police Depots, Other Buildings

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Weala Police Depot and other public and private buildings and properties were set ablaze by angry youth over the death of their colleague

In the wake of reports of the ritualistic murder of a local motorcyclist in Weala, Upper Margibi County, commercial motorcyclists on Monday, April 1, 2019, went on the rampage and burned down the only police depots in Weala and the Baypolue, the Baypolue Magisterial Court and several other privately-owned buildings, the Liberia News Agency (LINA) Margibi County correspondent has reported.

According to the report, the motorcyclists’ violent action yesterday brought normal activities in Weala and other surrounding communities to a total standstill as tension was high, which compelled the closure of the main Kakata/Gbarnga highway to vehicular movement for some hours.

According to LINA, the motorcyclists reportedly destroyed several other businesses, among them a building owned by local businessman, Stephen Tokpah, (alias ‘Park it Better’). The motorcyclists’ action stands from the recent death of fellow motorcyclist, Moses Wolopaye (alias ‘PCK’).

PCK was reportedly hired by two unknown men, who later allegedly murdered him and extracted some of his body parts. Up to quelling of the riot yesterday, security officers were yet to arrest the perpetrators.

According to reports quoting local residents from the area, on Friday, March 1, 2019, two unidentified persons reportedly hired the services of motorcyclist Moses Wolopaye, 21, to take them to Worhn, Gibi District Headquarters in Upper Margibi County on the promise to pay a generous fare of L$800, rather than the regular amount of L$200 that is usually charged from Weala to Worhn.

Burning road blockade in Weala

Further, according to reports, shortly after Wolopaye and the unidentified men departed for Worhn, Wolopaye allegedly went missing; only to find his decomposed body along the Peter Town-Gibi highway with several body parts allegedly extracted.

Margibi County Superintendent and the District Representative tried pleading with the motorcyclists, who appeared very incensed about the alleged murder of their colleague and, according to local officials, instead proceeded to engage in violent mob action which resulted in the destruction of properties.

Police have however restored calm in the area, following the arrest of several persons they believed were involved in the riot.

Some of the rioters claimed to have earlier written a communication to the Superintendent, calling on the government to act promptly by finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice within three days, or else they would have taken the matter into their own hands, not ruling out possible violent mass action.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Is this the introduction of “Jungle Justice in Liberia? Or an introduction some people described as ‘informal policing?,’’. Jungle justice occurs when ordinary citizens take the enforcement of the law into their own hands. It is the legal, social, political and/or cultural legitimization of extra-legal and extrajudicial modes of enforcing the ‘law’ and punishing ‘crimes’. When someone is suspected of a crime, the people suddenly become judge, jury and executioner, sometimes to devastating effects. .

    There are many historical, political, social, economic and cultural factors that can account for the predominance of jungle justice in Liberia; some of these factors may include, corruption of the Liberian government, broken criminal justice system, the underpaying, under-training and under-staffing of the Liberia National Police and other security agencies in Liberia, which leads to the corruption of the law enforcement agencies. The corruption within the law enforcement agencies could leads to bureaucratic inefficiencies that ultimately lead to them under performing in their jobs of protecting life and property, maintaining law and order, preventing crime and social disorder and ensuring public safety in Liberia..

    Consequently, this leads to Liberians feeling less safe and deciding to take the law into their own hands to preserve their security. These aforementioned reasons do not act to justify or even excuse the act of jungle justice, but it does allow us gain a little bit of an insight into the practice itself, and why it has come to be so culturally entrenched as to be viewed by many to be a cultural necessity.

    There are many issues with jungle justice, not the least being that it is an extra-legal and extrajudicial practice that violates the constitutional rights of the people that are subjected to the practice. But, one of the most significant worries when it comes to jungle justice is that a practice that gets its legitimacy from its cultural environment will usually punish crimes that extend beyond what is legally prohibited to what is culturally prohibited, and this can become very problematic, very fast. The culture of homophobia is no secret in Liberia.

  2. Nowhere in the civilized world would you attack law enforcement and they wouldn’t respond with several measures to save lives.

    Throughout our country, police officers are underpaid but work diligently and face the challenge of intervening in community crises while maintaining public and personal safety. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes precarious life and death encounters which require using deadly force. This jungle justice nonsense in Margibi should have been the exact situation for the effective use of lethal force by LNP. It would have been justified because there was no other reasonable option available. Again, this jungle justice nonsense has to stop.

  3. The question is, why not Margibi County considering all the baseless accusations and threats coming from there?

    Needless to say, nobody asking anyone to engage in police brutality or boneheaded violent overreaction (ala West Point, )but the paralysis of the Security Sector in the face of an assault on public safety will only embolden further acts of lawlessness, if not terrorism. Law enforcement shouldn’t wait for instructions from higher authorities to carry out basic policing duties such as preventing crime and protecting lives and properties.

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