Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., Wednesday told the nation he was sorry for the tragic loss of Shaki Kamara, 16, and the shooting of Titus Nuah, but their families want Samukai to deliver the apology in the township in person.
Kamara was shot during the August 20 attempt by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and other security personnel to enforce the quarantine which the government imposed on the West Point Township to arrest the spread of Ebola virus there and elsewhere in the greater Monrovia area.
Shaki died of his wounds and Titus Nuah, who was shot in the stomach, was rushed to a local hospital where was treated and discharged.
Shaki’s grandmother, Eva Nah, told the Daily Observer yesterday that she had heard that Minister Samukai had apologized to the nation. “But we want him to come to West Point to tell us he is sorry for what happened to Shaki.”
Madam Nah regretted that after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf visited the family on two occasions, “Nothing much has happened to assist the family, as was recommended by the board of enquiry.”
A board of enquiry comprising members of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, (INCHR) was set up on the orders of President Sirleaf to find out what happened in West Point that led to the shooting incident.
The Commission found Armed Forces of Liberia, (AFL) culpable, and among other things, recommended monetary compensation, counseling sessions by GOL, NGOs, and help for youth to cope with anger ‘brought on them by frustration, poverty, ignorance and stigmatization to offer them hope.”
“The Liberian government,” Madam Nah said, “has done none of the things that were recommended to assist us and the community.”
As a result, the township’s frustration and disappointment fester deeply.
Titus Nuah, 18, who survived his injury, told the Daily Observer that the government had abandoned him.
He said INCHR’s recommendation of a health center in memory of Shaki Kamara has faded in the memory of the government.
“Look at me,” he told the Daily Observer yesterday, “I can’t hustle like before, because doctors told me I should not do hard work.” To hustle, he clarified, “means for me to sell and bring money to help my family.”
Mr. Kissi Johnson, father of Nuah, expressed his disappointment with how the government has turned its back on them since his son was shot.
“It’s been six months since the incident took place,” he said, “and the government has done nothing to help my son.”
Young Nuah added, “Doctors told me not to work hard and to eat special kinds of food as well as sleep in a special kind of place.
“But without help, I’m sleeping in areas that doctors told me not to sleep and eating the foods they told me to avoid because I have no choice.”
He said: “School is about to re-open and without support I don’t know how I’m going to go to school.”
Asked if he had heard the apology extended by Minister Samukai during the Armed Forces Day program on Wednesday, when the Minister said the AFL is sorry for Nuah’s injury, Nuah said, “Somebody told me about it.”
He added, “If Minister Samukai is sincere; if he is really sorry, then he must make sure that all the recommendations made to assist me, and Shaki Kamara’s parents must happen.”
“I want Minister Samukai to come to West Point to tell us that he is sorry for the pain that the AFL inflicted on us,” Nuah said.
He told this newspaper he is doing much better after surgery performed in a local hospital and a trip to Ghana’s Korle Bu Hospital.
How he was able to get to Korle Bu Hospital is another story, he said.
His father Johnson explained that through Frank Jericho Nagbe, former coach of the national soccer team, Lone Star, word reached Ambassador George Weah.
He said: “One month, after a visit by one of his office staff, I received a check for US$2,000.
“I could not believe it, but all the same I received the check, and traveled to Ghana to make sure that the surgery performed on my son was ok.”
He said he had not found words to express his gratitude to Ambassador George Weah, who was reported to have promised to solicit financial support for Nuah from members of his political party, Congress for Democratic Change, (CDC), both at home and abroad.
Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods, delivering the Keynote Address during the AFL’s 58th anniversary Wednesday, called on them to return to West Point to engage in civilian-friendly projects.
“Undertake road construction, build schools, build homes, and assist our people when they are victims of any form of disaster…,” Woods advised.
Many West Point residents interviewed yesterday commended Atty. Woods for his inspiring speech, and hoped that the AFL would translate its meaning into concrete action for the common good of Liberia.