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Maryland under siege

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-President Weah imposes curfew, as protesters burn Speaker’s residence in Pleebo

Angry protesters in Pleebo City, Maryland County, including commercial motorcyclists have set ablaze the residence of Speaker Bhofal Chambers’ and a prison compound, demanding speedy investigation into the gruesome murder of a cyclist.

Speaker Chambers is a lawmaker, who represents Pleebo, Solokan District in Maryland County.

Angry motorcyclists threw stones and erected road blocks, demanding re-arrest and speedy investigation of a suspect, who is reportedly on the run.

The gruesome murder of the late Modicious Nyemah, who was a motorcyclist and student of the Pleebo High School occurred on Thursday, March 25, 2021 at about 10 A.M.

According to sources, suspect Moses Mlarmah, who escaped the Harper Prison after angry crowd broke into the prison, is a friend of the victim and resided with him in Pleebo prior to the incident.

The sources narrated that on Thursday, March 25, suspect Mlarmah asked the late Nyemah to take him to a nearby town called Besseken, around the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) for oil.

They explained that after reaching an isolated area near Besseken, the late Nyemah decided to tie up the load had gone for on his bike, at which time suspect Moses Mlarmah allegedly attacked him with a cutlass, gruesomely butchering his friend to death.

Sources added that after the attack, suspect Mlarmah left and went to a nearby town to buy alcohol to drink, where he reportedly met a woman, who served him, but while drinking the alcohol, the woman noticed bloodstain on his feet.

When the lady in the shop asked why the bloodstain, the suspect said he had just killed a goat, so the woman decided to further investigate because unknown persons have been killing cattle in the town.

She then invited other residents of the town to come join her in interrogating Suspect Mlarmah where he killed the goat.

Sources said while on the way to identify the spot, the suspect confessed he had killed a human being, rather than a goat, asking villagers to keep the act as a secret, but the town people refused and brought him to town for further questioning before subsquently turning him over to the Liberia National Police in Pleebo.

Following Police preliminary investigation, he was charged with murder, which is in violation of Section 14.1 of the Penal Law of the Republic of Liberia and detained at the Harper prison, awaiting court trial.

But since his imprisonment, protestors, including women, elders, youths, traditional council and motorcyclists in Pleebo and Harper have been restless in calling on the Police and the Ministry of Justice to ensure speedy justice.

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021 angry citizens, including motorcyclists broke into the Harper prison, demanding ther living body of suspect Moses Mlarmah, which led to the escape of 91 inmates, including the suspect.

The protestors allegedly damaged a police patrol vehicle, looted several properties at both Harper and Pleebo police stations and wounded a deputy police commander only identified as Massaley.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, March 31, tension flared further when the protesters set ablaze the Speaker’s residence in the district.

Although several gruesome murders had happened in the county, but the death of Modicioue Nyemah has drawn the attention of many citizens, including traditional woman and elders.

In January, 2019 a motorcyclist was gruesomely murdered by unknown individuals, and a pregnant woman was killed and her body found along the Atlantic Ocean in Harper, while another motorcyclist was killed along the Karluway highway, among others.

Perpetrators were not identified or brought to book.

The protestors insist that as long as the government can’t bring to end the repeated killings of innocent citizens, their protests won’t stop.

Police spokesman Moses Carter confirmed the incident in an interview with this paper Wednesday evening, explaining that “the police got overwhelmed yesterday in the evening.”

He says the Speaker’s house burnt totally and two vehicles were also burnt. But Carter notes that police have not received any major casualty yet, except for damage of infrastructure.

However, he adds that one police officer received injury, which according to him, was not grave, saying the officer is seeking medication.

He says one of the police pickups got vandalized in the process. Mr Carter notes that it takes time to get police officers from the Regional Hub to Maryland County to back up the team on ground.

He discloses that another team has been sent from Monrovia to be able to put things under control. According to him, even the officers sent from the Regional Hub got overwhelmed on Wednesday because over 20,000 demonstrators got into the street in Maryland.

Carter says Police are yet to establish the connection of Speaker Bhofal Chambers to the situation, adding, he is making some follow ups to establish on what grounds the Speaker’s house was attacked.

Meanwhile, President George Manneh Weah has declared cerfew in the entire county as of today, April 1, 2021.

In a statement here, the President expressed concern about recent developments in the county, saying that he has been informed of the gruesome killing of a young man there recently.

President Weah notes that although a suspect was apprehended by the police and incarcerated pending subsequent investigation in accordance with due process of law, residents of Harper City, as well as Pleebo City, have taken to the streets to protest the killing, adding, “Some of them have engaged in wanton acts of destruction against private property and public facilities, including the burning down of police stations and other Government buildings.”

“I would like to assure the people of Maryland County that this killing has claimed the urgent attention of the Government, and will be thoroughly, promptly and fully investigated. The perpetrators will face the full weight of the law”, President Weah assures.

He admonishes residents of Maryland County not to take the law into their own hands, but to remain calm, peaceful, and law-abiding, so that the criminal justice system can take its course, adding that “Any grievances should and must be channeled through the legal process, as Government will not condone lawlessness and violence at any time and from anyone.”

In order to keep the peace, and to ensure that law and order prevails, President Weah has immediately imposed a curfew throughout Maryland County, starting today, April 1, 2021, from 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. until otherwise ordered. “This curfew will be strictly enforced by the police, who will be supported by the Joint Security Forces. All residents of Maryland County are advised to take heed and govern themselves accordingly”, the President’s statement concludes. (Additionally information by Winston Parley and editing by Jonathan Browne)

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