No Freedom for GVL Rioters

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As the 26 celebrations took place in Greenville, Sinoe County, it was highly anticipated that some of those that had been incarcerated as a result of the recent fracas and destruction of property at the Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) concession area would be pardoned by the President. This was, however, not the case as President Sirleaf was only able to grant presidential clemency to three persons who had been incarcerated since 2012.
Granting clemency to the three individuals, two males and a female, President Sirleaf said, “As you all know, the constitution gives the President the right to exercise clemency for those who are incarcerated. That process is only exercised when a judicial process is concluded, the person has been sentenced, and remanded to prison for a period of time.”
Those who received the presidential pardon included Amos Tarpeh, 47, who has been in prison since June 28, 2012 and was charged with arson; David Tarpeh, 68, who similarly was arrested the same time for the same offence and Ms. Baby-girl Togbah, 25, charged for assault.
She further indicated, “Mr. Superintendent, you should please ensure that these three persons are released from prison with the advice to them that we expect them now to be good citizens and abide by the law and ensure that they do not get into a situation that would bring them back from situations which we just freed them.”
Residents who spoke to the Daily Observer said that Senator Milton Teahjay, had promised the people of Butaw that their children – particularly those involved in the destruction of property at GVL in June this year – would be released before or during Independence celebrations in the county.
One would wonder if this could have happened given the fact that those individuals were incarcerated for allegedly committing criminal acts, but the citizens indicated that Senator Teahjay gave them fervent hope that their relatives would be released.
This situation however had an adverse toll on the celebration in Sinoe as many of the people were not interested in such a big event that was taking place in their county. Others indicated that the reason for the low interest shown by the people is the result of disagreement with the Superintendent of the County, Romeo Quaiah, which has some tribal overtones.
“We were lied to by our officials. We were informed that the Butaw rioters would have been freed before this July 26 Independence celebrations, but this is yet to be the case. Why should our brothers be incarcerated by this government for fighting for their rights? For me this is indeed disappointing,” Tugbeh Sargbeh told newsmen during an interview.
He noted that the celebration in the county is worthless when some sons of the county are loitering in prison for no reason. “There is nothing for us to celebrate here. We want to call on this government to free our people. That’s all we need from them, there is nothing in this county to celebrate,” Mr. Sargbeh.
For his part Emmanuel Tarpeh, 27, indicated that the young people of the county will give no government official warm reception until his colleagues are freed. “We want our brothers freed. What have they done? So it is true that Liberians respect foreigners more than their brothers and sisters? These people [GVL Company] are exploiting us here and the government is strongly backing them?”
Meanwhile, the young people of Sinoe noted that they were totally left out of the preparation for the hosting of the Independence celebration. Many of them who spoke with President Sirleaf at the newly constructed youth center in Greenville noted that they were never called on board by the officials of the county to lend their helping hands.

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