By Rep. Acarous M. Gray
FRIDAY 23RD DECEMBER 2011
In the police cell at the National Police Headquarters, the atmosphere was tense and there was chaos all over the place with notorious criminals fighting among themselves for supremacy of who becomes the prison commander. I must admit that none of them touched me and the full respect was accorded me. Those guys even got me to another angle from the feces of maggots crawling on me. The area of the police cell I was placed in was in the toilet room where maggots and roaches have taken over the place and that was deliberate psychological or mental torture. Again, the masses knew their leader and I was relocated after hours of having those maggots walked on me.
There were three assigned officers at the gate of the police cell, and I was called to come at the entrance of the cell. At the entrance of the cell that Friday night I saw a true soldier who had maneuvered his way there and I don’t know how that happened; but it was Sekou Kalasco Damaro who brought a blue Nokia phone for my use. It was forbidden to have a phone in there, but things happened and no further explanation. That Friday night was unbearable as my innocent driver Abu was brought in and my expression changed because he was suffering from severe stomach pain.
I was never told what were my charges but, as God could have it, an assigned officer at the entrance of the cell spoke to me that night that the Government will include in their charges that I was arrested with drugs and guns, besides the charges of treason, arson attacks, incitement, criminal libel, etc. The same night they brought in my CDC vehicle where they had plotted to place in arms and drugs but, as God could have it, I was not arrested in my car. I was effectively using the phone telling my defense team headed by Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas to demand a fingerprint of the alleged gun.
SATURDAY 24th DECEMBER 2011
On this day I could hear shouting outside demanding my release and I was burning with fever and a Government doctor was brought in to check me but my lawyer and the CDC, including myself, had rejected a check. Dr. Peter Coleman from the CDC was called in to sit with the Government doctor to check me and surprisingly it was a setup to use the Government doctor’s findings against me in court. I recalled vividly when the Government doctor quizzed me on the usage of drugs and went as far as telling me but your eyes are red. At this juncture, Dr. Coleman interrupted and said to the Government doctor that as professionals we don’t interrogate our patients like that. I was not shocked by the inquiry because I already had a tip-off on the drug issue, so I replied to the Government doctor with calm and said I was born with red eyes and didn’t ask God for such. I told him that it was discriminatory to categorize me due to a biological deficiency of my eyes and as a doctor, he should know that people are born like that and no need to think that my red eyes are dugs related. Many persons don’t even know that I have never placed a smoke in my mouth. My friends who know me could better explain to those of you who don’t know me but live on perception. Anyway, the medical checkup was halted.
The day was fast-moving as the crowd outside grew bigger and I heard crying by a group of ladies too. I could see that the Police Director and his guys were under severe pressure not just from the outside crowd but from our international partners who were demanding to talk to me and to have a speedy court action. From behind bars I was made to speak to the US and United Nations political officers. I also spoke to my lawyer, the wife of Winston Tubman who brought me food to eat, and a few others.
The Government had ordered the court to remain open for a speedy trial on that Saturday because the pressure on them was building up at the National Police Headquarters. The court trial was hastily arranged on that Saturday by 5 p.m., which is not normal for courts to remain open up to such time on Saturday. I was bodily bundled up from the police cell under maximum protection and clandestinely placed in a covert police pickup and taken to the Temple of Justice yard for trial. The main gates leading to the Court were sealed and even journalists and others who wanted to witness the trial were prevented but few reporters slipped in. The courtroom was tense, even the judge was looking confused as security heads were in attendance; UNMIL and the US Embassy had representatives there. It was nothing less than ten counts against me but the treason aspect was later extracted. I was Liberia’s most wanted man, caught at the time because there were two attempts to have me arrested at my Capitol Bye-Pass fortress but the public resistance with human shields blocking the main street thus thwarting the plot. On one occasion, party stalwarts and supporters had to take me away from my home for refuge to the grounds of the CDC.
Back to the court, the charges were read and I could see the country’s Solicitor General struggling to defend lies concocted by the state against me, an innocent one. To admit, it was at this point my eyes got watery, not because of fear, but because of how many persons had passed through such lies. Finally, I was taken under huge police escort to the Monrovia Central Prison after 6 pm on that Saturday, 24th December 2011. From the courthouse to the Monrovia Central Prison, armed police officers were lined up at strategic street corners and our arrival at the prison center was greeted with prisoners chanting slogans in one chorus applauding my entry.
SUNDAY 25th DECEMBER 2011
It was exactly this date 25th December 2011 on a Sunday when I was temporarily released and never in the history of Liberia a high-profile political prisoner and an opposition face got out of jail on a Sunday. The CDC pressure was mounting, and the support base was ready to ensure that a release order is unconstitutionally demanded due to an arbitrary arrest. Also, international partners were baffled as interventions came from everywhere. I do remember vividly that CDC Standard Bearer Weah had flown to Accra, Ghana to depart for a third destination and he immediately cut off the trip and got on the line with President Sirleaf’s emissaries, giving an ultimatum or he will return to Monrovia and ensure that I am released. The city was tense and the jist took over the Monrovia Central Prison at South Beach. That Sunday night, in my prison cell, there was a second attempt by Government to do a medical check but I heavily resisted it. Opposite my cell were juvenile inmates who are very talented in singing and I was entertained, of course.
I was finally released on Sunday with the jubilant crowd waiting outside the prison compound. Even after my release, I was still going to court along with Chairman Mulbah K Morlu Jr. who was also accused. Before the arrest, a then popular radio talk show host on Truth FM 96.1 had gone on air endangering the lives of Mulbah Morlu and me by stating that we had brought into the country two trucks loaded with arms and ammunitions in the Duport Road Community to overthrow the Government of Liberia. The talk show host stated that it was credible and from that day we were followed everywhere covertly by state security officers from the NSA and CID.
After my release from jail, the National Election Commission went on certificating The President-Elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Lawmakers-elect, which included me. At the ceremony, when you are called up to receive your certificate the protocol was deliberately set up to receive the certificate and, as soon as you turn to return to your seat, Ellen Sirleaf would extend a handshake. I received my certificate and wasted no time but to extend my hand first to the disbelief of her cheering squad of Government officials and families. They thought that I was going to have rejected shaking her hand. I don’t keep malice at all and I have forgiven those who lied to me and almost got me eliminated.
The photo [above] was taken on the day I got released from jail. My party, The Mighty CDC, stood with me and my gratitude to the movement is unquestionable.