Liberia’s Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean has ordered the release of pressure group Council of Patriots (COP’s) acting chairman Menikpakei Dumoe, after staying approximately two days in police detention over his social media post that the government here claims was threatening to national security.
In a statement authorized by Information Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe on Unification Day, Thursday, 14 May, the government says Dumoe was arrested on Tuesday, 12 May after a search of his home – which was sanctioned by the courts – for making comments deemed threatening to national security.
Minister Nagbe who along with the Justice Minister and other senior security officials were released recently from quarantine over coronavirus infections, recalls that earlier this week, Dumoe posted on his Facebook page that poor people in Monrovia needed “Ak47s so that the government can take us seriously”.
According to Minister Nagbe, Justice Minister Dean says an investigation by the Joint Security Forces, which includes the examination of materials from Dumoe’s home, is continuing.
He says the government remains committed to protecting the fundamental rights of everyone, even as it grapples with an unprecedented health crisis and urges all to refrain from making incendiary remarks which could undermine the hard-earned peace.
“Liberia currently faces an existential threat that should claim the attention of all of us. Attempting to score political points when our compatriots die is unpatriotic,” Minister Nagbe concludes.
Mr. Dumoe in his media post suggested that poor Liberians here need an AK47 rifle, a gun notorious here during the country’s nearly two decades of civil war, to be taken seriously by the government instead of a promised rice that has been long overdue.
“We don’t need free bags of rice. I say we the poor in Monrovia need AK47s so our leaders can take us seriously,” Mr. Dumoe wrote on Facebook.
Although Mr. Dumoe, a young promising political activist has said that his statement was metaphoric, state securities here on Tuesday invited him for a conference to enable him provide them a better understanding of his statement, but he was soon arrested and a search warrant issued to search his home for arms or related documentation.
Under the previous regime of former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, his comment would have been described as someone seeking an “undue attention,” but not under this regime.
Mr. Dumoe did not deny making the post, but he claims he was being metaphoric, saying he is not talking about using a physical weapon.
His lawyer Cllr. Finley Karnga complained Tuesday that his client was arrested, contrary to police’s assurance that he should accompany his client to the police headquarters in Monrovia for a conference. Cllr. Karnga says he felt extremely betrayed and belittled on grounds that the “police – lawyer relationship” which he had relied upon to carry his client for the conference had been abused by the authorities whose real plan to arrest his client was hidden.
By Winston W. Parley