Impunity Stalks the Land Awakening Fears of Return to a Bloody Past!

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Fears of a return to the nation’s bloody past appears to be awakening in face of what most agree is a sharp decline in respect for the rule of law. And this is happening under the George Weah administration.

Just why President Weah does not seem to understand the dangers implicit in a decline of the rule of the law is troubling. Under his watch, several mysterious deaths/murders of government functionaries have gone unsolved. State security or their hirelings have been linked to most of these unsolved murder cases.

But most troubling is the impunity associated with these acts. For instance, most acts of violence perpetrated against civilians by Police officers have gone unpunished. In some instances even Police officers have fallen victim to such violence, which have of course gone with impunity.

We recall the case of Police Deputy Inspector-General Marvin Sackor, who was ordered flogged by CDC stalwart Representative Acarous Gray. The incident was much talked about but at the end, nothing, absolutely nothing came out the case and Gray, as well as those who acted on his orders, went with impunity.

In a more recent development, female Police Sergeant Rebecca Nimley was physically assaulted by the commander of the Maryland County Police Detachment.

She sustained bodily injuries from the brutal assault but, as of yet, nothing has come out of the case although the Police maintains it is investigating circumstances surrounding the incident.   

Most recently and perhaps more serious than all the previous incidents is the recent development in Dorgbor Town-Gbi-Doru District involving elements believed to be state security officers.

According to media and eyewitness reports from that area, on Friday April 30, 2021, armed men stormed the town firing indiscriminately and sending locals fleeing into the bushes for safety and survival.

A local resident was reportedly shot while others were abducted and taken away to an unknown destination. Just who were those men and at whose behest were they acting remains an issue of cardinal public concern.

The heavily forested Gbi Doru area lies in the lower part of Nimba County, bordering Grand Bassa and Rivercess Counties. Its extensive stands of prime tropical timber have attracted many predator logging operations that derive millions of dollars annually but, virtually nothing accrues to the people, leaving them in a state of destitution.

According to a FrontPage Africa report quoting Michael Tiah, a resident of the town, men dressed in plain clothes arrived in their town driving a pick-up truck under the guise of doing a demarcation survey of the Liberia Timber and Tree Corporation (LTTC’s) operating area.

Being apparently incensed by the refusal of the local people to accommodate their request, they quickly returned to their pick-up truck, changed into all black clothing and with automatic rifles in their possession began firing indiscriminately into the homes of terrified residents sending them fleeing helter-skelter into the bushes.

These accounts provided by terrified villagers appear like a scenario taken out of Nigeria’s long running conflict with Islamists of the Boko Haram terrorist organization. In this case, it is Liberia and appears to be the handy work of state security and not a terrorist organization.

Suffice it to say, however, incidents like these going with impunity leaves the people feeling helpless and distraught. The LTTC is reportedly owned by a former member of the House of Representatives from Nimba County, Ricks Toweh.

It remains unclear at this stage whether it was the former Representative who ordered the men into action, neither is it clear just who those men were and which state security organization they are members of or whether they were private militiamen.

In any case, this is a very dangerous development laden with gross conflict potential. This is a matter of pressing urgency that demands prompt and drastic response from government. It means President Weah should get on top of this.

We hope our international partners, friends and allies are taking this seriously. After all, this development has all the hallmarks it requires to kickstart an armed rebellion. But our allies will sit on their haunches fold their hands and do nothing until the people begin to rise up.

Then the next thing will be the arrival of a horde of military advisors seeking to impose a military solution to a problem that defies such responses.

It is very easily forgotten that endemic poverty, corruption and gross abuse of human rights with impunity are factors that inspire and drive armed rebellions against state authority and, in some cases, fuels extremist behavior.

US author Sarah Chayes, in her book, “Thieves of State”, highlights this phenomena and attributes as reasons for the long running conflict in Afghanistan mainly to official state corruption and US support for a corrupt regime.

And the situation is not much different elsewhere around the world. Take Nigeria for example, with the largest population in Africa, which is very richly endowed with mineral wealth from which billions are generated annually but yet most of its population live in abject poverty.

Popular responses to such social deprivation are manifested in strikes, go-slows and in extreme cases, armed rebellion. The outbreak of  armed conflict in Liberia in 1990 can rightly be considered a popular response to a bloody dictatorial regime but which fitted perfectly into US designs for regime change in Liberia.

This much we know from scholars and researchers, amongst them Oxford professor Dr. Niels Hahn, as well as from direct hard experience. Perhaps it may be too early to pass value judgement on the attitude of our partners to this latest development.

But taking a cue from experience in history. We recall that an armed flotilla of ships and 5,000 troops idled off Liberia’s coast in 1990, fidgeting and twirling their thumbs while the Liberian nation burned.

We fervently hope and pray that scenes of sick, starving people, dead bodies stacked up before the US Embassy, while desperate people cried for help that never came, will never return again to haunt us. But with Impunity alive and well there is no guarantee that those scenes of desperation would not once again return to haunt this nation.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is the regime of the MIGHTY CDC!
    The party is mighty because it beholds all former combatants from all warring factions in Liberia. What then should you expect?

    Beware Webmaster Admin, Weah CANNOT do anything. Do your best to call attention, but impunity will dwell with us until the departure from power of those hoodlums.
    Liberians should not depend on the international community to come and clean our mess AGAIN. They did it for us recently, incurring heavy costs, both casualties and pecuniary. Liberians decided to settle down for the same people who meted such mayhems on them by saying they did not need Socrates to rule Liberia. They have their ignoramus; the land of the cowboys where survival of the fittest is now the rule of the day.

    May God preserve our nation Liberia from another auto destruction!

  2. Wait a minute, crimes and impunity!? Wow! I wonder where or which foreign president is having his or her inauguration this week, because this is what Weah, our jolly, jolly president cares about.

    Well, you can tell if a president cares about burning issues at home by his level of concern and his visibility when he is most needed by the people during times of crises. Nevertheless, this is not in Weah’s playbook. And by the way, how can he combat crimes and impunity when his name and those of his high ranking officials are associated with the most egregious ones?

    When did Weah attempt to show that he was pro-poor? He attempted this ploy just a few weeks ago when his CDC party was disgraced at the election polling stations, and then he began to realize he needed to get out to the various counties a little bit after three years of being in office and at least try to begin bamboozling the uninformed electorates prior to 2023.
    Where does Weah derive his recalcitrance? He feels he is doing the right thing as his core advisors would have him to believe. And of course, his diehard CDC supporters’ consolation line goes like this, “Don’t worry and be happy babe. All this had been happening since Joseph Jenkins Roberts’ administration, and so you can repeat the refrain and everything would be okay because you are loved by the people.”

    Are there chances Liberia could return to her violent past? Sure, at the rate crimes are accelerating, Liberia could return to her violent past if nothing is done to pre-empt it.

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