Ganta Motorcyclists: Pursuing Justice to the End

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Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh has really been on task in this first major crisis since he assumed this challenging post. He showed up in Ganta on October 1, the day following the September 30 riot by motorcyclists and others who violently looted and destroyed properties and killed people.

His first act was one of resolute decisiveness: he banned all motorcycle activities in Ganta until further notice. Nor did he rest until many if not most of those involved were arrested and remanded for prosecution.

The Minister remained on task, paying several visits to this most troublesome of Liberian cities, Ganta, in the company of other Ministers, to demonstrate government’s seriousness in the matter.

The Ganta police knew that the Justice Minister was serious, so they got to work. On Wednesday he announced that 47 motorcyclists had been charged with multiple crimes, including murder. He pledged that GOL (Government of Liberia) would ensure that this case is fast tracked so that all sides would be sure of justice.

The Minister, in order to demonstrate compassion for the victims and their families, visited the various homes to identify with them in their unprovoked distress. Among those visited were Madam Korwu Yeawonyen, grandmother of Josephus Yeawonyen, one of the murder victims and entrepreneur Prince Howard, whose two houses were burnt down and his hotel, Alvino Hotel, a leading hotel in Ganta, looted.

We heard that some of the parents have come begging for forgiveness for their youths. We have asked many times before in this editorial column why these Nimba parents sit and see their children engage in lawlessness and violence, injuring and even murdering others and destroying property, only to show up later begging for forgiveness. Is it really that simple? Can any parent restore the life of the murdered youth? Who will rebuild Mr. Howard’s houses and restore his hotel?

Such actions by motorcliclysts and others, many people say, is the result of envy. But we have quoted many visitors to Nimba who have told us how they admire and appreciate the county’s businesspeople, men and women, who are seriously engaged in commercial activities. We have quoted many people who have returned from Nimba and told us that the county “is on the move, with so many of its people undertaking serious business ventures and in the process improving their areas and the lives of their people.” Is this a crime?

Do the Nimba people prefer to see Lebanese and other foreigners doing business in Nimba instead of their own people? Then who will develop Liberia?

Well, we wish to remind the people of Nimba that foreign businesspeople have dominated the Liberian economy for the past 75 years, ever since the 1940s when the Open Door Policy was introduced by President W.V.S. Tubman, and Liberia is still among the world’s least developed countries. So if the Nimba people, or any other group of Liberians with such warped (perverted, twisted, sick) mentality, think we can depend on others to develop our country, they are sadly mistaken. Only
Americans developed America. True, there are many immigrants there, but American leaders make the policies that make it possible for anyone who is prepared to work hard to go there and prosper. And who is building China, India, South Africa, Ghana and all the other countries?

Our people must stop this wicked habit of self-destruction. Why do we always behave like crabs in a bucket? As soon as we see someone forging ahead in education or business, we become envious and try to tear him or her down, instead of trying to find out what makes that person successful and endeavoring to emulate him or her.

We have always argued in this newspaper that this country can never be built on envy. Envy can take us in only one direction—backward, as it happened the other day in Ganta.

We call on all the parents who are now begging for their misbehaved youth involved in the recent disturbances in Ganta to go look for Prince Howard and volunteer to do something to help him rebuild his houses and refurbish his hotel. Go to Madam Yeawonyen and offer their services on her farm or in her yard, to help her out in some way to make her feel that we are truly sorry for what happened.

We have always said in this newspaper that envy can never build a nation—it never has and never will.

Let us all start developing positive mental attitudes. Let us develop clean hearts toward one another. Let us strive to develop and refine the latent abilities God has given each of us to move ourselves, our families and our country forward ever, backward never.

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