‘West Point Shooting is My Nightmare’

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As the shocking death still lingers of 16 year-old Shaki Kamara during the forced quarantine of the Township of West Point at the height of the Ebola epidemic that rocked Liberia in 2014, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Brigadier General Daniel Ziankahn, says it is one of his greatest regrets.

Brig/Gen. Ziankahn last Friday visited the offices of the Daily Observer near ELWA Junction and during an interview with reporters said he is yet to come to terms with the death of Kamara, who was reportedly shot by a member of the AFL.

The West Point operation was the first for the newly restructured AFL under his command. He took over from his predecessor, veteran Nigerian General Suraj Abdurrahman.

General Ziankahn admitted, “Whenever I think about the West Point incident, I develop bad feelings, because I got to know that we (the AFL) didn’t do a good job.”

Although he said he was not in the country when the incident occurred, he rushed back to Liberia because of its importance.

“I had just taken over the Armed Forces and this was my first experience, of which I am yet to overcome,” he stated. “This was a life experience to learn from.”

Brig/Gen. Ziankhan said, “If the AFL was to go back to the Township of West Point on another situation involving civilians, we would do it the right way, or differently, because we have learned a serious lesson from that situation.”

He said the AFL afterward took strong measures against those officers responsible for the shooting, for they should have been professional in the discharge of their duties.

To ensure cordial working relationship between the AFL and the residents of the township and the civilian population at large, the AFL has undertaken development projects in several communities to build bridges of cooperation.

“We have renovated the Arthur Massaquoi School in the Township of West Point and carried out medical outreach activities there,” he said.

Kamara was shot and later died of his wounds during a protest over Ebola quarantine of the township in August 2014.

After the incident, findings from the Disciplinary Board of the AFL found a platoon commander and four enlisted men guilty of indiscretion bordering on indiscipline on August 20, 2014.

Lieutenant Aloysius Quaye was found guilty of conduct unbecoming of an officer and dereliction in the performance of duty, with a recommended punishment including demotion in rank and 30 days in correctional custody.

Two soldiers under his command were found guilty of assault and arbitrary use of force, while two others were convicted of making false statements. The disciplinary board recommended they receive sentences, including 30 days in custody.

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