The leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) Alexander B. Cummings is calling for the immediate release of all 34 persons arrested and jailed, in connection to recent violent protests in Maryland County, since the last 28 days. The ANC is a constituent member of the four Collaborating Political Parties that seek to restrict President George Manneh Weah to a one term in 2023.
He also calls for immediate lifting of the curfew imposed by President Weah as a result of the violent protests in the county following the brutal murder of a commercial motorcyclist Mordacious Nyemah, stressing “Except to unfairly punish our people, there is now no reason to keep our people under curfew, which is causing more hardships.”
Delivering a nationwide address in Monrovia Tuesday, 27 April on frequent suspicious deaths and violence in the country, Mr. Cummings, a former presidential candidate, noted that “mysterious deaths” under the Weah administration are plenty! And wonders how many times are Liberians going to be expressing sympathies to families for the mysterious deaths of their loved ones? “How can anyone in our country feels safe when the government cannot explain how people are disappearing and dying?” He asks.
Delays in charging and sending suspects to court led to mass citizens’ protests in the county marred by arson attacks on public and private properties.
Mr. Cummings says when a government is silent, or cannot seriously investigate and convincingly explain the deaths of people that government is actually encouraging criminals to continue to kill people, which threaten the lives of everyone, adding, “This is not how serious governments behave. It is not how governments show they care about the lives of their people.”
He notes that today, in many places in and around Monrovia, in the day or night, people are scared to walk the streets, and communities are unsafe, as drugs and crimes take over streets and neighborhoods.
“The people who should be helping to protect our people are themselves helping to sell the drugs to our children. The people who should be fighting crimes are looking the other way while people are being robbed and harmed, and while armed robbers are breaking into homes terrorizing sleeping families.”
He reflects that when President Weah was asked about the “mysterious deaths” and the fear people are now living under, the President responded that people should go and buy CCTV. “What kind of President tells families who are crying for the wicked killing of their relatives to go buy CCTV? How many Liberians can buy CCTV?”
The ANC leader notes that many Liberians are unemployed, and those who are lucky to be working, the government has cut their salaries so much that there is barely anything left to do anything, let alone buy CCTV!
He says for many civil servants, the monthly cost of transportation is more than their harmonized salaries, and the daily life of ordinary Liberians is characterized by struggle to eat, or to pay rent, or to pay school fees, lamenting that when someone gets sick, the whole family is likely to breakdown because they can hardly afford to pay the hospital bill.
Cummings continues that maybe some of the President’s friends and officials can buy CCTV, but reminded that it is not the President’s friends and officials that are dying mysteriously, or being harmed, robbed and are scared to walk the streets or get in a taxi cab at night. “It is ordinary Liberians that are now living through this hell. And they cannot afford CCTV.” He says governments have a duty to protect everyone, including those who can afford and those who cannot, because every life is precious.
“All over the world”, he says, “the first thing every government tries to not fail in doing is protecting the lives of its people”, but somehow President Weah’s Government is failing, again.
“My people, I don’t know how, but today, I have come to beg you to please protect yourselves. Get home early. Lock your doors at night. Look out for each other. Do your best to be safe” the opposition leader urges. He vows: “From the bottom of my heart, I promise you – we will work as hard as we can to make President Weah a one-time President.
And when we do, we will end this mysterious deaths business in our country by going back and investigating all of these deaths, from Mr. Matthew Innis to Mr. Anthony Johnson. Anyone we find to be involved – big hand or small hand – we will arrest you, try you, and punish you severely, in keeping with the law.”
Recently, the regional chairperson of the ANC, Augustine Krah, in a press statement condemned the murder of motorcyclist Nyemah and regretted the situation that some citizens took in drawing government’s attention for redress.
Mr. Krah stressed that the party doesn’t believe in or tolerate unlawful acts to correct any wrong, so if there is a situation of such, citizens should always channel their grievances to the government through a timely and peaceful manner.
On April 8, 2021, the Government of Liberia charged all 34 suspects and sent them to the Pleebo Magisterial Court, but they were later transferred to the Zwedru Correction Palace in Grand Gedeh County, awaiting trial, as a result of destruction of the prison facility in Harper City, Maryland County.
According to the April 8th Police charge sheet, the 34 men were charged with multiple crimes, ranging from robbery, criminal conspiracy, arson, riot, failure to disperse, criminal mischief, obstruction of highways and other public areas, and disorderly conduct.
By Jonathan Browne