…Declares Minister Nagbe, says gov’t will go after “those who incite people to protest”
Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has said that the government of President George Weah is not weak to defend its citizens and foreign residents.
Nagbe’s comment was in reaction to a peaceful civil demonstration held on Thursday, October 4, 2019, in the courtyard of the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital, where a crowd had assembled to demand the smooth passage of a rape victim, Jestina Kumba Taylor, to the United States Embassy, for a visa appointment.
Though the situation was calmed later in the afternoon following the intervention of some stakeholders, who also turned Ms. Taylor over to officials from the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Minister Nagbe declared that, going forward, “the government will not encourage any protest that will, in some way, undermine the peace and democracy of Liberia.”
He spoke at the Ministry’s regular weekly press briefing, which was entirely concentrated on the Thursday demonstration, which also obstructed the smooth flow of traffic along the Tubman Boulevard, mainly at the Catholic Junction in Congo Town.
Nagbe: “We will not allow any group of hoodlums to disturb the peace. We will utilize all legal means to do so.”
His statement came shortly after some of the protesters blocked the street leading to the Catholic Hospital, demanding the release of Ms. Taylor.
Nagbe accused members of the opposition block, who he claimed were all defeated in the 2017 presidential elections, of attempting to cause chaos in the country.
It can be recalled that President George Weah made a similar complaint against the political “opposition”, in his prepared speech at the just-ended 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States of America. In the speech, the President accused defeated opposition parties of “creating uncertainty in Liberia.”
But Minister Nagbe said that the peace and security that Liberia enjoys must be protected by all, “even by the members of the opposition.”
Members of the opposition are yet to react to Nagbe’s statement, even though it is almost five days since Minister Nagbe made the pronouncement.
Nagbe added, “If you have issues, ask the police what is going on; there has been no desire on the part of this government to hold any citizen against his/her will.”
He continued, “It is not that when you don’t agree with a particular issue that you go and hire people to block traffic and destroy properties.” The Minister, however, warned that the government “will be going after those that incite people to protest.”
“Those who aid and abet the violence will be brought to book in keeping with the law,” he warned.
Minister Nagbe said that because the government is practicing democracy, people in the opposition should not see it as a sign of weakness.
“What happened on Tubman Boulevard where the traffic was being obstructed undermines our democracy,” he said.
He clarified that it was reported in some quarters that Jestina Taylor was not arrested by the police, rather, the police were protecting her based on her complaints to the officers.
Madam Taylor has since been allowed to leave the hospital after she refused to give a written statement of allegations of rape and kidnap levied against some members of the ruling establishment.