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Assassins tailing political actors?

--CSOs make grave claim

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In a grave allegation, four leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Liberia are claiming that they are terrified by reports of key political actors reportedly being tailed daily by unknown men and reported assassins to eliminate key political actors, but fail to name any political actor who may have given a clue for this alarm.

But the Liberia National Police (LNP) when contacted on the matter Thursday, 8 October said it hopes that the CSOs with such grave allegations can sit with the police, assuring its willingness to launch an investigation into the claims of strange people running after politicians.

During a joint press conference Thursday, 8 October at the office of the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Mr Harold Marvin Aidoo, IREDD Executive Director claimed that the four CSOs have spoken to a number of political leaders, opposition political leaders and they have expressed this fear of being followed daily.

The joint statement is authorized by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia), and Accountability Lab Liberia.

The CSOs say they are deeply troubled by the increasing wave of insecurity and panic across the country, occasioned by several mysterious deaths.

Mr. Aidoo argues that they are not making accusations, adding that they have instead highlighted the issues and it is incumbent upon the government to investigate because the CSOs see it as troubling when they hear this information from political actors that they are being followed.

Pushed by this paper as to what clue he has that assassins are tailing political leaders, Mr. Aidoo suggests that the media should speak to political actors to authenticate if the claim being made by the four CSOs in the joint statement is unfounded or a mere assertion.

“We have spoken to a number of political leaders, opposition political leaders. No I cannot name anybody, but we’ve spoken to a number of political leaders and they have expressed this fear of they being followed daily and we believe that we cannot allow this to happen,” Mr. Aidoo adds.

He notes that in a democratic society, he believes that there should be competition of ideas, saying that is why political institutions are established in the first place.

“So if we get to a point where political actors fear that they are being followed, as civil society actors, even the media, it is important that we bring this to light and we call on the government to investigate,” he continues.

Giving his own experience, Mr. Aidoo claims that he was followed to his house, saying he reported the matter to the police but there was no further investigation to that.

He notes that there is glaring evidence that people are being killed mysteriously across the land and breadth of this country with no conclusive investigation and outcome.

But during an interview with the NewDawn via mobile Thursday, Moses Carter, Spokesman of the Liberia National Police says the police encourage the CSOs to write or formally complain to the LNP on the matter and the police will be willing to work with them to identify those persons.

“So I’m hoping that the CSOs with such grave allegations can sit with the police and you know, we definitely will launch an investigation into the claims of you know, strange people running after, you know politicians,” Carter says.

Regarding Mr. Aidoo’s claim that he reported a personal experience to the police that he had been followed to his house, Carter says he is not aware of any complaint that Aidoo took to the police and the police did nothing about. He notes that investigation is not an event, but it is a process characterized by information received from the public.

Reading the joint statement earlier, Mr. Anderson Miamen, CENTAL Executive Director said the CSOs are equally terrified by reports of key political actors reportedly being tailed daily by unknown men and reported assassins to eliminate key political actors.

“We fear that the country is gradually slipping into anarchy and therefore call on the government and international community particularly the Embassy of the United States of America, the European Union and other international partners to intervene,” Mr. Miamen says.

He warns that this does not augur well for the peace and security of the country as well as stakeholders’ confidence in its governance process. “We strongly encourage the Government to do more to protect the fundamental human rights of all citizens and residents of Liberia, especially their rights to life and free movement,” Miamen continues.

He notes that their attention has been drawn to the unexplained deaths of public servants at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Mr. Albert K. Peters, Assistant Commissioner for Internal Audit, and Madam GiftyAsmah-Lama, Manager, Taxpayers Services Division.

“The alleged accidental death of Mr. George F. Fahnboto on Saturday, October 3, 2020, another senior staff of the Liberia Revenue Authority, has equally claimed our attention,” Miamen adds.

According to him, all of these are happening months after Mr. Matthew Innis, a senior staff at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) was killed in a purported hit and run incident on Sunday, 1 March 2020 without any conclusive outcome since an investigation was launched by the Liberia National Police.

Such mysterious deaths, he says, are instilling fear in citizens and have the propensity to undermine investors’ confidence in the country.

“Importantly, also, we call on the US Government and other partners to closely follow these investigations and support government, in whatever means possible, to timely conclude them ensuring that the outcomes are published and fully implemented,” Miamen says.

He indicates that impunity for economic, financial and other crimes committed have been a long standing issue in Liberia, adding that the CSOs believe that the country cannot continue on this path whereby innocent lives are lost under mysterious circumstances and with little or no accountability.

He also suggests that the nominating former Commerce Minister Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) without fully accounting for the Stimulus Package and Household Food Support Program, as head of the committee, undermines the principles of good governance and public accountability.

By Winston W. Parley

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