Ugly developments that occurred over last weekend in Fiahmah involving opposing criminal gangs have caught the attention of the Daily Observer.
This is because those ugly developments do not only have the potential to derail the peace but they also signify a new but disturbing development and that is the rise of armed criminal gangs.
From all indications these gangs are battling for control of the city, in a style and fashion strongly reminiscent of factional rule over the country during the 14 years of civil conflict.
According to insider sources who spoke to the Daily Observer, the Police are aware of the existence of these gangs and their leaders. At least one of their leaders, one Moses aka, “Man Devil”, according to sources, has been seen in the office of the Commissioner of Police on more than one occasion.
On Sunday, a day after the violent clash, “Man Devil” was spotted in the Fiahmah area dressed in black, openly carrying a huge machete and was being accompanied by a group of his thugs.
The violent clashes in Fiamah resulted in the looting of some businesses by criminal elements and the torching of a house said to have been the residence of “Man Devil”. Man Devil is said to have earlier escaped the scene having been tipped off about the impending attack.
It all began, according to sources, when a member of the Cobra Gym and Body Building Center on 18th Street got involved in a an altercation, allegedly with some members of a rival gang led by the recently killed “Pharoah”, at the Renaissance night club located at the Duport Road junction on the Monrovia-Kakata highway.
According to sources, the Cobra Gym is owned by an ex NPFL General and some members of the Man Devil Gang are also reported to hold gym membership. Further, according to sources, gang members belonging to Pharoah’s gang beat up a man suspected of membership in the “Man Devil” gang, broke his arm in three places filmed it and posted it on Facebook.
This, according to sources is what which may have triggered the response of “Man Devil”. Man Devil or members of his gang are said to have tracked down “Pharoah” to an area near Miami Beach in Mamba Point. There he was killed after having been lured outdoors. His badly bruised body was brought to a zone in the Fiahmah area known as Waysay” and dumped in the street.
Pharoah’s men, angered by the news of their leader’s death, led an armed raid on Fiahmah where they disrupted business, looted shops, forcing shopkeepers to close and where they burned down a structure believed to be the residence of “Man Devil”.
Police response was at best feeble. A Police officer speaking on condition of anonymity told the Observer that the Police inability to respond to such developments is due to the lack of logistics and operational funds.
Charging that the operational funds for such emergencies are eaten up by the top management, the officer said they are left with virtually nothing to apprehend criminals.
The Police officer disclosed that the individual (“Pharoah”) killed in Fiahmah was well known to the Police. His area of control is said to stretch from Old Road Junction leading to Kailondo Hotel all the way to Red Light, while Man Devil’s controlled area is said to stretch from Airfield to 9th Street and the area from 9th Street to include Central Monrovia is under the control of “Mustapha” otherwise known as “Senegalese”, while West Point is said to be under the control of “Death Row”
The Daily Observer notes that while warring factions have since been disbanded, their military command and control structures are alive and well as evidenced by the rise of gangs and the use of violence to harass, extort and intimidate ordinary citizens.
This newspaper has warned time and again of the dangers posed to sustained peace and stability in Liberia by rising incidences of lawless behavior, especially by public officials and the indulgence of impunity, which feeds on fear.
For example, not a single arrest has been made of individuals linked to the armed assault led by City Mayor Jefferson Koijee on the Cornelia Kruah Togba political rally in Gardnersville on November 17, 2018.
There has also been no arrest of individuals linked to the attack on the home of Representative Yekeh Kolubah during a children’s party which he was hosting; neither has there been any arrest of individuals linked to the disruption of the MOJA anniversary celebrations on March 21, 2019.
What these developments speak to is the urgent need for the Government of Liberia to address high and continuously rising unemployment especially amongst youths many of who are unskilled.
More besides, increasing hardships in the face of runaway corruption and ostentatious lifestyles of public officials is serving to create a groundswell of hopelessness rather than hope, which could lead to the development and growth of extremist ideas and the promotion of extremist behavior amongst the youths of this country.
These dangerous vices are rooted in poverty and young people, in particular, seeing virtually no way out of such dire straits, are more likely than not, to resort to the use of violence to either survive or to escape the clutches of armed criminal gangs.
All this points to the urgent need for government to address rising mass unemployment and chronic poverty. Additionally, it points to the urgent need for this government to address impunity, corruption and accountability or be prepared to face the fury of the masses and, of course, the unintended consequences of their action.
From their positions of comfort and ease in Europe, America and elsewhere, the “Baghdad Bobs” of Liberia will, of course, scream hate, which is perfectly natural for those whose pay day may appear threatened by this newspaper’s analysis and presentation of the facts but, when comeuppance does strike, they will be the first to say “we told him o but his head was too hard”. End of Story!