Statement by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Republic of Liberia On the violence in Paynesville

Statement By the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Republic of Liberia On the violence in Paynesville on April 16, 2015

The attention of the Ministry of Justice has been drawn to three incidents over the past two days involving motor bike riders, which directly or indirectly may have contributed to the violence that took place in the Paynesville area and its environs on Thursday, April 16, 2015.

In the first, an AFL soldier assaulted and killed a bike rider in Thinkers Village. The soldier has been arrested, detained and the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the AFL will soon make a determination as to whether he will be tried by there by the AFL under the UCMJ, or will be disrobed and turned over to the Ministry of Justice for Prosecution.  This Government will not condone impunity and we want to assure you that the AFL soldier will be tried and punished in accordance with law.

The second death occurred earlier this morning when a Commercial truck ran into a motor bike resulting into injuries, from which he died subsequently. The driver of this vehicle has also been arrested and charged.

This afternoon, I am informed that a motor bike rider, who was fleeing from Police after he allegedly assaulted one of them at the GSA Road intersection, fell from his motorbike and was rushed to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. This was the third biker rider death in two days.  It appears that when the news of this third death got to the bike riders, they went on a rampage in which they vandalized and destroyed 5 Police Depots, released all the detainees thereat, and set one of the Stations ablaze.  Private and Police vehicles were damaged and a number of Police Officers including female officers were attacked, stripped naked, subjected to indignities, and seriously injured. This incident caused panic, fear and disruption of normal activities in the Paynesville area and its immediate environs.  The Government condemns this despicable conduct and will not allow it to go unpunished.  

We wish to inform the general public that the situation has, however, been brought under control by the Government of Liberia. In this regard, we wish to assure all our citizens and residents that the Government will do everything possible to ensure that law and order is maintained in the Paynesville area and its environs, that lives and properties are protected and secured, and that all those involved in this violent and despicable conduct will be arrested, charged, prosecuted and punished in keeping with law.  The conduct of the Police will also be investigated and if any Police Officer is found to have acted unprofessionally, he/she will be disciplined.

Liberians are peace loving people. This Country will not be held hostage by bike riders or nor will the peace and stability of this country be left to their whims and caprice or to the whims and caprice of their supporters.

We are aware that the use of motorbikes is an economic activity and that it creates jobs for many of our youths. However, to every right, there is and there must be a corresponding responsibility.  The right to use motorbikes does not confer upon bike riders any special privilege to engage in conduct that will undermine the peace and stability of this country. If we allow this to continue, we would have failed as a government to carry out our responsibility for the greater good of the Country.

Accordingly, the riding of motorbikes on the streets of Monrovia in particular from ELWA Junction to Paynesville Red Light, and From Paynesville Red Light to Double Bridge Gardnerville, and from Paynesville Red Light to Mount Barclay is hereby suspended effective immediately. The Liberia National Police is hereby instructed to impound any motorbike found plying the streets herein stated and to have the rider thereof arrested, detained and charged. 

This will enable the Government to secure a corridor of peace and tranquillity in the affected areas, investigate the circumstances that led to this incident and to take the appropriate actions.

We call upon all our citizens and residents within our borders to cooperate with the Government fully in having this incident investigated. We encourage all bike riders to respect the law and to submit their grievances to the law and not to take matters into their hands. For to do so will lead this country into lawlessness and undermine peace and stability.

Signed

Cllr. Benedict F. Sannoh

MINISTER OF JUSTICE & ATTORNEY GENERAL, RL

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