The attention of the Daily Observer is drawn to a story carried in its April 17, 2019 edition under the headline, “AFL Soldier Guilty for Threatening to Kill June 7 Protesters”.
According to the story, the Board of Investigation of the Armed Forces of Liberia(AFL) has charged Corporal Sieh Collins for contravening Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Collins recently posted on his Face Book page a message which read: “I will never regret killing anybody on the streets of Monrovia to keep this country safe. Remember our children are in school and Liberia is safe. Trust me, I will kill you with happiness.”
Further, according to the story, “the investigation report held Cpl. Collins liable for contravening the UCMJ Article 92 for failure to obey orders or regulations and General Article 134, which talks about threat communication. Therefore, he has been subjected to the Disciplinary Board of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)”.
The Daily Observer is indeed deeply concerned about how poisonous the political atmosphere has become as of late. Threats of the use of violence have filled the air waves and they are contributing to an uncomfortable rise in tension. The tension is indeed palpable and chances of a spillover into actual violence cannot be dismissed.
Recently, just about a day or two ago, a group of ex-rebel generals held a press stakeout which was carried live on social media. In that video posting, ex-rebel generals, some of who were allegedly involved in the killing of UN Peace Keepers in the Ivory Coast, can be openly seen and heard brazenly issuing an ultimatum to Representative Yekeh Kolubah to report to their custody or else they will “move” on him.
While government officials have spared no efforts lampooning Representative Kolubah for allegedly threatening to overthrow this government, their stony silence in the face of such brazen threats by ex-rebel generals and unrepentant perpetrators of gross human rights abuse speaks volumes.
The only publicly known qualm these ex-rebel generals might have with Rep. Kolubah is that he blew the whistle on a secret meeting between them and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill. According to Kolubah one of those in attendance recorded the conversation between the minister and the ex-rebel generals, which Kolubah says is in his possession.
If the Government of Liberia, President Weah or anyone else has not so much as filed an official complaint against Rep. Kolubah for whatever utterances he may have made recently, then on what basis have the ex-rebel generals issued their ultimatum? Are they acting unofficially on behalf of a sponsor close to the Presidency?
That these individuals with such tainted past would have the temerity to make public statements threatening the use of violence to secure political ends, should constitute a wakeup call to all well-meaning Liberians to intensify their push for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia.
The current situation should also claim the urgent attention of ECOWAS and its early warning conflict prevention unit. The leaders of the Mano River Union should also take cue from what is unfolding and take the necessary measures to address the situation before matters reach an irreversible stage.
Judging from recorded statements attributed to the Minister of State that he is the leader of the country, it does appear amiss that President Weah has not bothered to correct the distinctly false impression being conveyed by his Minister of State except, of course, the Minister is saying the truth.
As it appears thus, there may indeed be several loci of power in Liberia which has led many in the international community to question, just who is in charge in Liberia — and by extension, who is in charge of security in Liberia as there appears to be several heads?
In one breath, the County Attorney of Montserrado County (a subordinate to the Justice Minister), rather than the Justice Minister himself, in the absence of official criminal charges against Representative Kolubah is demanding that he (Kolubah) reports to his office to undergo investigation.
In yet another breath, ex rebel generals are seen and heard issuing a similar ultimatum, while in the same vein a government official is heard on a radio talk show warning the public that anyone considering participating in the proposed June 7 protest demonstration should bid their families good-bye, meaning of course they would be killed.
As gathered from the Daily Observer story, it appears that the leadership of the AFL may, more likely than not, move in to protect June 7 marchers should lawless individuals attempt to actualize their threats of the use of violence against the June 7 protesters.
This newspaper recalls that the then Congress for Democratic Change was the most vocal critic of the past government that engaged in almost incessant protest action against the past government.
Now, firmly in the seat of power, the once perennial protesters and activists have suddenly become averse to protest demonstrations. In their eyes, “fire must blaze when any bush shake”. The risk is after lighting so many fires, one could end up being consumed by the very blaze. President Weah should consider this instructive:
TAKE CHARGE AND LEAD and avoid being pushed or led to an untimely and unkind fate. And remember that “a stitch in time saves nine”.