Liberia, A Country of Men and Not A Country of Laws?

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It was like watching a scene from a horror movie. Amidst an eerie overcast and a dark night sky punctuated by patches of flickering lights, voices could be heard on the video — of individuals involved in a harsh verbal exchange. 

One of those individuals identifies himself to a menacing group of young thugs as a journalist from a local media outlet, Spoon TV. And the individuals can be heard on the recording issuing threats of physical harm to the journalist.

The journalist was covering events at the home of Representative Yekeh Kolubah following reports of a violent attack on his home by a group of thuggish and criminal elements believed to be associated with the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). The Police, standing by but doing nothing to stop the attackers, ushered the journalist into their parked vehicle for his safety. 

It was clear that the Police, by their inaction in the face of such dangerous provocations, was sending a clear message that the perpetrators of such violence were at liberty to do whatever they pleased without let or hindrance.

This latest development has upped the stakes and thrown open wide the gate for retaliatory counter measures should GoL fail to bring the perpetrators, some of who have been identified as Police officers, to account for their actions. 

The attack on the home of Representative Yekeh Kolubah, to which Police reaction has been wanting, was totally unwarranted and it constitutes a dangerous escalation of tension in the country with grave implications for peace and national stability.

Sadly and disappointingly, Justice Minister and Chief of the Joint Security, Frank Musa Dean, is nowhere to be seen in all of this. By virtue of his position and authority, he does not need to be told to do the right thing — to act proactively in defending, protecting and upholding human rights and respect for the rule of law. 

But the Minister is doing none of these things. He believes he can be absolved of responsibility by playing safe, by keeping his mouth shut and closing his eyes to the violations of the rights of the people as guaranteed under the Constitution of Liberia.

His action or inaction to these troubling developments is hurting the nation and he needs to either bring these actions of violence in check or he should do the honorable thing to resign forthwith. 

Of what good or use to the public is a Minister of Justice who cannot use his authority to ensure respect for the rule of law and respect for the rights and dignity of others? The attack on the home of Representative Kolubah is a grave escalation of violence which must be checked.

What President Weah needs to realize is that such violence will cause him more harm that good and that eventually he will have to account for the actions of his underlings. 

From the look of things, Liberia runs the risk of becoming once again, a pariah state like it was under disgraced and convicted war criminal, former President Charles Taylor. It is as if those in national leadership have not listened to or read the statement from the Defense Minister warning that the military will not sit idly by and let the security situation degenerate into a free-for-all violent melee.

This means that, should the situation deteriorate further, the military will step in to bring things under control. The question is if and when such a situation does obtain, will the military then be taking orders from its Commander-in-Chief? 

Highly doubtful. And will US support to the military to stabilize the situation be forthcoming in case the security situation deteriorates with the flareup of violence? The answer is yes. 

And will the military return to barracks right after the violence is brought under control and law and order restored? The answer is maybe, just maybe, perhaps.

Justice Minister Musa Dean must awaken from his slumber, feigned or real, and come to grips with the worsening situation before it gets out of hand. If the job is too big for him and if he cannot as chief legal advisor to the President provide sound legal advice to him, then he is not fit to serve in that position. His is like the old folk saying, “Big Boy Shoes, Small Boy Can’t Wear”.

Perhaps the Justice Minister needs to be reminded that the job is not all about affixing signatures of approval to predatory contracts in return for kickbacks as is commonly known. It is about engendering and fostering respect for the rule of law, which means abolishing the culture of impunity. Obsequiousness does not pay, Mr. Justice Minister. You cannot pretend that you are not aware of the ongoing violence in which people are being wounded.

Fortunately, no deaths have been reported so far but, how many people should get wounded before you realize that the violence is spilling out of control, Mr. Justice Minister? 

Remember that you have a charge to protect and defend the rights of all Liberians and those who live within her borders and it means doing so without fear or favor to anyone including President Weah. As Justice Minister, you are, without a doubt, aware that the law is no respecter of persons; meaning that yours is to ensure that Liberia becomes and remain a country of laws and not of men!

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