In its September 16 Editorial headlined, “ The People of Liberia Are Under Siege! Break That Siege Now Mr. President!”, the Daily Observer stated the following:
“Rising insecurity is/has become an issue of grave concern to Liberians across the board. Report of a rise in ritual killings, unexplained disappearances, extrajudicial killings carried out by individuals with alleged links to this government have all been major topics of concern on virtually all local radio talk-shows recently.”
Only eight (8) days later, news came of the shocking murder of 76-year-old John Hilary Tubman by unknown assailants. According to family sources, the deceased was found dead lying face down in a pool of blood. A retired homicide investigator told the Daily Observer that it appears the crime was committed by someone or individuals who were familiar with the dogs that the deceased had at his home.
According to him, the fact that the main entrances to the house of the deceased were shut except for a secret underground entrance, strongly suggests that those who committed the act were more likely than not, insiders, although the possibility of outside involvement cannot be ruled out completely,
The Fiahmah community, according to residents, is host to a criminal gang led by an individual known as “Man-Devil." His gang is engaged in brazen acts of open extortion demanding protection fees from market sellers in the Fiamah market and although wanted by the Police for his alleged involvement in the kidnap and murder of another criminal gang leader from Paynesville, known as “Pharoah”, he is said to have long been hiding in open sight.
As to whether Man-Devil and his gang were involved in the commission of the killing of John Hilary Tubman, no one can say for sure. But according to the retired homicide investigator, the involvement of a close relative to John Tubman cannot be ruled out. As a matter of fact, he says family members including loved ones would normally form what he called the first ring of concentric circles of suspicious individuals who may be linked to the crime.
Whatever the motives of his assailants may have been are yet undetermined. Was it an attempted robbery gone wrong, an act of revenge for perceived wrong, or jilted lover exacting his/her pound of flesh, jealousy and envy by a family member bent on laying hands on what he/she believed was a hoard of money Mr. Tubman had received, or was it the handiwork of hired assassins?
Although it appears that are no political overtones to John Tubman’s murder, no one knows for sure. Matters now rest in the hands of the Police to conduct a speedy but full investigation into the matter. Just how long this is going to take remains unclear. What is however clear is that this murder has sent shock waves of fear through the public, not knowing what next to expect.
In the eyes of the public, another challenge has been thrown out to the Liberia National Police in the wake of this recent development. That challenge is to restore public confidence in the Police by curbing rising crime and insecurity. There has been a spate of killings in recent times and in which the Police have neither made any arrests nor charged anyone. Reports of young girls being abducted, and body parts extracted while still alive abound.
And the Police appear incapable of tackling the situation. A local security official (name withheld), commenting on the situation, said most of the reported abductions and killings are linked to officials and he believes the Police are aware of them. That is why, according to him, the Police appear powerless, noting that a whole cast of unwholesome elements with questionable characters has been either recruited or embedded with the national security apparatus, citing as an example a notorious character Ophoree Diah.
Diah and others, according to a local security official, are accused of being hitmen/assassins and or heart-men paid to deliver human body parts to be used for ritualistic purposes intended to benefit unnamed politicians. He pointed as an example the case of the three young men from the Blamo family who went missing since they were hired by the proprietor of the St. Moses Funeral Parlor to undertake repairs of equipment in the Haindii-Bong Mines area.
Up to present, the Police have conducted no arrests nor even charged anyone including the proprietor of the St. Moses Funeral parlor on suspicion of involvement in the disappearance of the three young men. And this is not healthy for the stability of the state because fear breeds anger and resentment and, the deeper the fear, the stronger resentment. This is a fact, as experience shows, which many African leaders often tend to forget at their peril.
Such can be said in the case of Guinea, where former President Alpha Conde, against the wishes of the Guinean people, pushed through parliament a bill granting him the right to contest a third term. And when the people protested, he tried to instill fear into the populace by ordering his troops to open fire on protesters, killing and wounding several and thus stoking widespread public anger and prompting the intervention of the military.
Insecurity is not only creating fear, but is also stoking public anger. It would do officials of this government, including President Weah, all the good to come to grips with the situation before the public begins to take matters into their own hands.
Truth be told, the Liberian people are indeed living in a state of siege. Break the Siege Now, Mr. President! See how early the streets of Monrovia become deserted after dark. The economy operates on a 12-hour timeline as it virtually shuts down at dusk. How then can officials speak of economic revival with an economy operating for only twelve (12) hours daily?
In the final analysis, the ball will come to rest in President Weah’s court because all this is happening under his watch.