The leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey says that the ongoing fracas between the Government of Liberia and politician Simeon Freeman and activist Vandalark Patricks, clearly demonstrate inconsistency on the part of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Mr. Urey, who is also a prominent businessman, said President Sirleaf was once in the vanguard advocating for free speech, social justice and other fundamental rights for Liberians and it baffles him now to see the President cracking down on people who are simply voicing their thoughts about a government they feel is not treating them right.
“It is unfortunate for Liberia,” the ALP political leader said, “especially our president, someone who stood in the vanguard of advocacy and struggled for the Liberian people. And what is being done today was done to her and we all criticized those decisions by the then government and it is unfortunate that today she will be doing the same things to others. The situation that Patricks is undergoing is an unfortunate situation for Liberia.”
He made these remarks at the Roberts International Airport, where he received a high-level delegation from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) visiting from the United States.
Currently one of the most prominent opposition leaders in the country, Mr. Urey called for calm from all quarters, noting that there should be no excessive use of force, be it from the protesters or officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
“We want to move our country forward and it goes to the police and protesters that we must be tolerant. There is no need for all this excessive force that will give our country a different image, especially when we have signed to all those conventions that tolerate human rights, including freedom of speech and other fundamental rights,” he stated.
He called on the president to instill in the police discipline so that they can stop the use of excessive force, especially against vulnerable citizens.
Patricks a ‘good man’
Mr. Urey, however, said he has no regret for securing the bond fees that brought Activist Patricks out of prison because the rights campaigner is a “good man.”
Following a week of detention at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), Mr. Patricks was on Tuesday released after his legal team secured US$3,000 criminal appearance bond to allow him out of detention and to face trial for sedition and criminal libel charges levied against him by the government.
Patricks was arrested after he read a communiqué on behalf of a consortium of political parties and civil society organizations on February 21, which called for a mass citizen action on March 11.
He also accused the government of hiring assassins to murder the former managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), Harry A. Greaves Jr., and eliminate other political opponents of the government, although President Sirleaf had stated a day after Mr. Greaves’ death that her government does not have enemies but critics, of which Mr. Greaves was one.