Liberian journalists currently mourn the sudden passing of one of their very best, Koboi Zenu Miller of OK FM 99.5on Saturday, 14 February after an cruel encounter with state security forces during a national county sports meet in January at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.
A proficient broadcaster, talk show host and sports commentator, the late Zenu had gone to commentate or cover the match between Grand Kru and Nimba counties when he reportedly encountered ruthless officers of the elite presidential guard, Executive Protective Service who beat him on 26 January 2020, leaving him to complain of chest pains up to his abrupt demise.
“I was attacked tonight at the SKD [“Samuel Kanyon Doe” Stadium] by EPS [Executive Protective Service] officers in the full view of the EPS director. Gosh!!!”, Zenu had posted subsequently on his Facebook page following the incident.
What level of investigated was conducted by the EPS following the alleged flogging is not clear but Zenu departed this world in pain, abandoning his loving family and relatives, friends and professional colleagues. He reportedly died at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville.
Though the real cause of death may be established later, we demand a thorough investigation from the government, especially, authorities of the EPS to ascertain what transpired on 26 January that led to the brutal flogging of the deceased and his subsequent death.
Notwithstanding, this is how much we know about security brutalities resulting to injuries and deaths under the Weah administration: On January 6, armed police dispersed peaceful protesters with teargas and water canisters, arresting at least 26 on the grounds of the Capitol where they had converged to demand answers from the government to earlier petitions, while on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 police teargased protesting students in the streets of Monrovia,
demanding their teachers to return to the classroom. Then on November 7, 2019 police shot and killed a teenager and wounded two others in Kingsville, Montserrado County while dispersing angry residents, who had erected a roadblock to demand the death of a juvenile. A year later, a police commander had chased a motorcyclist and shot him at point blank before shooting himself in his hand, portraying that he was attack. These are among some of the many excesses by state security forces against the civilian population over the period.
That the late Journalist Miller wrote on his Facebook following his beating by EPS officers the incident happened in the presence of the director of the institution, Trokon Roberts, is of grave concern and should be investigated. How the EPS chief could allegedly allowed such inhumane behavior occurred in his presence without intervening?
Even after the incident, there was no official condemnation or comment because attacks against journalists in Liberia have become a norm. From time to time, journalists have been manhandled and their gadgets destroyed by state security officers without proper redress. This has to stop! These are patriotic citizens providing selfless contributions to the Motherland. They should be accorded due courtesies and respect.
Zenu did not deserve to have died the way he departed – at the cruel hands of security officers protecting the President. This is why the authorities should conduct an investigation characterized by an autopsy to unearth nothing else but the whole truth.
The journalism profession, the Press Union of Liberia and the entire country have lost one of the best species of ours while serving in the line of duty at the time he was needed more. Our hearts bleed for his early departure in a manner that is so despicable.