By Dagbayonoh Kiah Nyanfore II
The subtitle of this article came from a piece by S. Karweaye of the New Dawn paper in Liberia. The story’s title, published in the paper’s March 6, 2023, edition, is “Political Assassination in Post-War Liberia: The Case of Gloria Musu Scott.” Despite the politicization of the story, the fact is that a murder occurred. Why the killing, and who did it? That is the question. Since the incident happened in February this year, no person has been arrested, and the final report has yet to be announced. Why? This article attempts to address the situation.
On February 22, 2023, at about 9:30 PM, Charloe Musu (Pictured), a lady in her 20s, was murdered in the home of her traditional mother, Counsellor Gloria Musu Scott. The report indicates that the killer stabbed her multiple times. Two other women residents sustained wounds. Charloe was a graduating senior from Starz University in Liberia. Gloria Scott is a former Supreme Court chief justice, Justice Minister, Liberian National Elections Commission Chair, and Senator. She is a famous lawyer and a legal advisor to an opposition party.
A few months before the incident, Madam Scott reported to the police two rubbery attempts at her compound. According to her, the police did nothing. Immediately after the stabbing, she drove to the home of the current minister of justice, Mr. Frank Mussa Dean, and informed the minister. Dean was said to have advised her to change her phone number. Scott did not, and neither did anyone else, take Charloe nor the wounded persons to the hospital immediately until the following day, about 7 hours after. According to a report, Scott later informed the police that she pepper sprayed the intruder at a close range after the stabbing. Charloe died in the hospital.
Counselor Scott and her children live in an over 10 feet concrete fence house (See Photo) protected by three security guards. The report also stated that the alleged intruder escaped. Still, the guards said they saw no intruder leaving the premise that night.
After the killing, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), accused Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee of having masterminded the murder carried out by Varlee Telleh, a former commander of a rebel group and presently an employee of the city. A few days after the allegation, concerned persons, including friends and associates of Counselor Scott, dressed in all black, demonstrated at the ground of the Capitol Building. They called the incident a political assassination and demanded justice for Scott. Others wrote or expressed on the radios calling for the government to act. Koijee and Telleh have denied the allegation; the police investigated them. But Verdier, upon questioning by the police, gave no evidence, saying that he wanted the government to act seriously on the case.
The situation leaves many questions. If the intruder was pepper sprayed, how was the person escaped over a high fence? Why did Counsellor Scott travel many miles to the Justice Minister instead of going to the nearest police depot, a walking distance from her house? Why were the victims not taken to the hospital immediately? Pepper spray is a chemical that causes eye pain and difficulties in seeing. When asked, Scott said she did not know the spray’s name, nor could she locate it.
This revelation and other information have many people wondering. Supporters and the opposition parties have been silenced since. Moreover, though an autopsy and the police report have been completed, the Justice Minister is said to take no action to bring the perpetrator to book. Pathologist Dr. Benedict Kolee stated that Chaloe died due to excessive bleeding. Some analysts view that the minister is holding the case to protect Counselor Scott. Further, according to a Liberian who is a police expert in the US, the minister can be questioned and called to testify about what Scott told him when she visited.
Meanwhile, FrontPage Africa wrote that there has been a dispute between the Liberian National Police (LNP) and the Justice Ministry regarding the case. Accordingly, LNP “wants to charge Cllr. Scott with the crime of murder, but Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean is reportedly opposed to that decision and calling for a lesser charge of manslaughter or negligent homicide.”
On June 5, 2023, Liberians peacefully protested on the Capitol ground and at the justice ministry, calling for action on Chaloe’s case.
Silence and inaction in Chloe Musu’s case are potentially dangerous. They give Liberia a bad image and make the country appear unsafe. The government needs to take the issue seriously. Minister Dean needs to recuse himself or resign. He is not helping the administration and not administering justice but apparently stopping it. He should remember that there is tomorrow. The position of being a minister is not an entitlement. He should be reminded of past Justice Minister Jenkins Scott, who became a madman after losing his job. Scott was infamous as a minister under President Samuel Doe. When the government fell, he wandered around Monrovia, slept in the streets, ate garbage, and died.
President Weah needs to take appropriate action. It is his administration that is viewed negatively by the opposition. He will be judged and not the Justice Minister. The president has stated that he should not be adjudged by his speeches but by his decisions. If Dean is not doing the right thing, the president should remove him immediately. Like other appointed officials, the minister serves at the will and pleasure of the president. President Weah will be seen as weak, unable to make tough decisions. It could impact his re-election bid this October if taken lightly. His opponents could use it against him.
Making difficult decisions is a hallmark of good leadership. For instance, in 1977, Moses Tweh, a Kru fisherman and folk singer from Grandcess, was murdered in Maryland County, Liberia. He was jovial but uneducated. According to the investigation, his death was for ritualistic sacrifice. Some county officials killed him for political advancement by taking his body parts. Maryland County Superintendent James Daniel Anderson and County Representative Allen Yancy were among the individuals involved. Anderson’s father, James Nathaniel Anderson, was the ruling True Whig Party chairman. Previously, he served as Senate Pro-Temp. The superintendent was his oldest son. Additionally, Yancy was the late President William Tubman’s cousin and family member of Allen Nathaniel Yancy, Liberia’s vice president, in the late 1920s. The chairman tirelessly pleaded for his son.
Interestingly and historically, President Tubman from Maryland selected Tolbert from Monserrado County to become vice president upon Vice President–elect Ben Freeman’s death. Tolbert was a loyal VP to Tubman for over 20 years. He succeeded Tubman when the president died in 1971. Moreover, while the Barclays, Dennises, Coopers, and Tolberts dominated Monserrado County’s politics, the Tubmans, Andersons, Yancys, Gibsons, Barnes, and Wilsons ruled Maryland County, which was one of the original counties constituting the Republic of Liberia in the 1860s. Thus, Maryland and its leaders were vital to Tolbert’s presidency.
President William Tolbert faced the decision to persecute or kill the case. Should he seek justice for a commoner or forgo the matter in the interest of the party boss and influential people? He chose the former. The court in Maryland judged the accused and found them guilty. They appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial. In the second hearing, the lower court again ruled the seven defendants guilty. The Supreme Court, this time, confirmed the verdict that called for death by hanging. The Maryland elites were unhappy with Tolbert, but the people of Maryland jubilated in the streets for the execution.
Here the Maryland officials killed Tweh, a poor man, for their personal interest because they felt he was nobody, and his death would not matter. But they were wrong. After the high court ruling, Party Chairman Anderson appealed to Tolbert to give clemency to the convicted murderers, particularly the son. But the president refused and made the following public statement.
“(…) I will never permit myself to be influenced in one way or the other by sentiments. I will do my duty when it is time to do my duty in the fear of God in keeping with the oath of office of the president.”
Despite Tolbert’s shortcomings as president, he is remembered as a man of justice. President Weah must give justice to Chaloe Musu.
WHY DOES THE CHALOE’s CASE CONCERN ME?
I pass by the residence where the murder happened each time I travel to the area to visit my daughter. She lives in the Brewerville vicinity. Whenever I see the house, I am reminded of the death. I ask myself what is the result of the matter?. Why is her killer going scot-free while her body is still in the mortuary? I am a father. I have all girls. I am concerned about their lives and that of others. Chaloe could be my daughter. Her life was snatched away. She was deprived of her youth and future. Who knows, she could have become a senator, a medical doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, or a president.
She could be your daughter, sister, niece, or friend. She was a Liberian and a human. Her soul will not rest until her murderer is caught and brought to justice.