The reported violent attack by thugs on peaceful children attending a party hosted by Representative Yekeh Kolubah, is a dangerous development which must be checked with great urgency. Also, reports linking Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee to the violence and the lukewarm response of the Police to the situation warrants a public inquiry into these developments with the view to clamping a lid on any future occurrence of similar nature.
This is particularly so because this is the second of such violent incidents involving thuggish attacks on individuals perceived to be in opposition or critical of the President or officials of his Government. It can be recalled that Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence and Cornelia Kruah Togba, then aspirant for the District 13 seat, had reported that they were attacked by thugs during a political rally in District 13, November 17, 2018.
Sen. Lawrence: “They surrounded my vehicle, but fortunately, residents of the community came to my rescue and took me to a secure location. Distinguished colleagues, I panicked for myself and the crowd especially the children who were escaping the chaotic scene caused by the mayor of the City of Monrovia,” Senator Karnga Lawrence explained in a letter to the Senate.
“I was a hostage for about two hours before being escorted by the community dwellers to my vehicle,” she continued. “As a result of the pandemonium and mayhem, we had to use the back road to escape the scene. Pro-Temp and distinguished colleagues, I wish to request an inquiry into this matter which has the propensity to undermine the peace and stability of the country.”
Since then then there has been no arrest by the Police and, up to present, it is not known what has become of the promised Police investigation into the November 17, 2018 matter. However, the principal figure named in the fracas, Jefferson Koijee, is reported to have since filed a defamation suit against Senator Karnga Lawrence and Cornelia Kruah Togba. Not much has been heard of the case since. The Senate had declared it was going to launch an investigation into their colleague’s complaint but it is not known whether any progress has been made in this direction.
But the recent development on the Old Road, where a children’s party was attacked by thugs and where gunshots are reported to have been fired, is indeed troubling and strongly reminiscent of the days of the Samuel K. Doe National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL), when armed thugs of that party were routinely unleashed on peaceful citizens during political rallies. This newspaper recalls the burning of the Daily Observer and FootPrints newspapers. This newspaper also recalls the burning of the home and library of eminent statesman and former Secretary of State, J. Rudolph Grimes by NDPL thugs.
This newspaper is constrained to warn that these developments portend danger for this country and if such is left unchecked, the country runs the risk of a relapse into violent conflict because what the country is now bearing witness to appears indistinguishable from those acts which precipitated the nation’s slide into violent conflict.
And judging from hindsight, unleashing armed thugs on peaceful citizens and attempting to smother free speech, are certainly more likely than not to engender resistance. And such resistance as experience from other countries have shown, has great potential to easily snowball into something much beyond the control of the government. We recall for instance the developments in Burkina Faso which ignited a peoples uprising that sent dictator Blaise Compaore fleeing into exile.
Coming back to home, this newspaper is constrained to ask just what do officials of this government led by President Weah hope to achieve by attempting to stifle dissent through violent means. As the economic situation continues to worsen by the day, government officials would do well not to arouse the frustration and ire of the people by its failure to address worsening economic conditions but yet at the same time chasing perceived political enemies.
This newspaper recalls that during the 12 years of President Sirleaf’s rule, members of the Congress for Democratic Change were her most vociferous opponents. They mounted street demonstrations toting caskets and calling for her to step down. Current House Speaker Bhofal Chambers was perhaps her most vocal opponent. He castigated her unceasingly and even refused to shake her hand when she extended it. Why then and from where is all such displayed intolerance coming from?
But again what can one say in defense of President Sirleaf, except for the singular fact that she tolerated free speech and never ever did she unleash or caused to be unleashed, armed thugs on peaceful citizens for expressing divergent opinion. But she may have grossly erred in judgment on generational change. And she did all within her power to ensure that she transitioned power to this new generation of leaders who appear to be conveying the distinct impression that theirs was all about self and not the nation.
In the final analysis, this newspaper cannot help but remind President Weah of the dangerous path on which his advisors are taking him. Liberians have suffered so much instability and endured so much and therefore any further signs by this government pointing to a return to the ugly past will more likely than not engender resistance. Further, the last thing any well-meaning Liberian would wish to see is another intervention by the military in national political life, judging from the experience of the past. Accordingly, it behooves President Weah to stop allowing people to use his hands to draw their roasted palm nuts from the fire because it is his hands that may get burned instead.