Private properties were set ablaze in addition to a police station, as angry residents, mostly youths went on the rampage demanding justice for a 14-year old motorcyclists whose body was discovered near the United Methodist Compound in Ganta, Nimba County.
The victim, reportedly hailed from Gipo Town, electoral district# 8, but was a resident of Ganta up to his death. The angry youths including motorcyclists of Ganta and adjacent areas destroyed several private properties, particularly businesses owned by a prominent resident, Prince Howard, accused of involvement into the deceased’s death.
The victim has been identified as Melton Wehgbay. His death followed the discovery of another dead motorcyclist few days ago in the same county. 15-year-old Josephus Yeawon, a resident of Peace Community in Ganta, was reportedly invited by his 17-year-old colleague, Josiah Balmo, to go for a palm wine ride along the Ganta-Saclepea highway when he was similarly found dead.
Earlier, a seven-year-old girl, who had reportedly gone missing on August 7, 2015, was found dead with several body parts missing. The angry residents also mobbed a resident of Congo community in Ganta to death. The deceased was identified as ‘Decent Boy’, 28.
He was attacked after the angry crowd spotted bloodstain on his motorbike, thus, suspecting him of involvement into the death of Melton Wehgbay. The rioters ransacked and looted several public buildings, including the Drugs Enforcement Agency office, office of the Mayor of Ganta and the police station in Ganta before moving onto Mr. Prince Howard’s compound that contains a three storey building and setting it ablaze.
The whereabouts of Mr. Howard and his entire family are said to be unknown. Normal activities in Ganta, including school and businesses were at a standstill on Wednesday due to the violence with the authorizes declaring a curfew.
Meanwhile, riot police officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) from Monrovia and the Police Support Unit (PSU) from the Gbarnga Regional Hub have been dispatched to Ganta in response to the chaos that led to the destruction of private and public properties.
On Wednesday, 30 September the rioters in Ganta set free 22 detainees who were in police cell and then set the police station ablaze in Ganta, Deputy Police Spokesman Mr. Lewis Norman told reporters yesterday afternoon.
The authorities here in Monrovia say they have arrested six persons in connection to the vandalism in Ganta, but they told reporters that the situation was under control and urged the public to remain calm. Mr. Norman listed those arrested in after the violent riot as Jackie Lannon, Armstrong Zayzay, OswaGbangbay, Ericson Samuel, Francis Togbah and Abraham Jalloh.
The violence began when a dead body believed to be that of a motorcyclist was discovered around the Methodist Compound in Ganta; with rumor further being spread that another corpse believed to be a man identified as Milton Kpaklah had also been discovered in one Prince Howard’s house in Ganta.
Prior to the alleged discoveries of a corpose in Mr. Howard’s house and the one near the Methodist Compound, suspects David Lawrence and Asha Fofana had been held in police custody for the alleged disappearance of two persons in the area.
In the aftermath of claim by the rioters that a body was in Mr. Howard’s house, Police say rioters burnt both his car and house, and a local hotel called Alvion on Sanniquellie Road in Ganta. Investigators are yet to attach cost to the violence, but Mr. Norman says the situation has been brought under control.
By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba, with additional reporting by Winston Parley in Monrovia