Prosecute The Perpetrators In The Lofa Violent Clashes
During the morning hours of Friday, February 26, Liberians were again awaken to the news of a riot in the northwestern town of Voinjama in Lofa County, in which four innocent citizens were killed and several others injured, while a number of properties were either destroyed or vandalized.
At the time when the preoccupation of all Liberians is to bear and manage their poverty-stricken conditions, while at the same time putting behind them the years the locusts have eaten, it became disturbing and worrisome when this sad event, occurring as a result of rumors, was reported to the rest of Liberia.
We are not only taken aback by the deaths and other devastations incurred just in less than a day, but the negative impressions received by the international community and others who have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure peace and its sustenance in Liberia.
With the initial move by the Lofa Legislative Caucus and subsequent intervention of the government of Liberia to immediately restore calm to Voinjama last Friday, we envisage an independent commission inquiry devoid of sentiments that would later render its investigation meaningless.
Such commission must be tasked with the responsibility of not only investigating the Konia-Voinjama crisis, but placing in such investigation our national agenda, and that has to do with the interest of the nation and that of the people of Lofa County.
At the end of the investigation, we must be able to understand the genesis and context of the conflict between the Lormas and Mandingoes, and how this situation could be addressed in its entirety to avoid future recurrence.
Moreover, we are of the fervent belief that recommendations emanating from the investigation must be implemented to the letter, than the trends other reports normally take when submitted to the President for implementation.
Our primary suggestion for the commission’s consideration if there was to be one, is for the government of Liberia to deal with the individuals who actually perpetrated the violence-we mean the particular individuals who participated in the death of student Korpo Kamara, illegal arrest of the Paramount Chief of the district, the vandalization of the mosque in Konia in Zorzor District, as well as the elderly man who reportedly solicited LD$6,000.00 to locate the late Korpo.
Equally, we would also want the proposed independent commission of inquiry to seriously consider the individuals who made the telephone calls to Voinjama, as well as those who one way or the other directly participated in the Voinjama riot leading to the death of four innocent Liberians and the destruction of churches and private homes.
We see no reason for the commission to concentrate too much on religion and tribe in its inquiry relative to this particular situation in Lofa. We believe that when this is done, those who always harbor the belief that they can instigate spear-head and perpetrate violence and go with impunity will be reminded that we are watching them.
Liberians are tired of violence and those who think violence is the only path on which they thrive must be dealt with drastically to serve as a deterrent to would-be trouble makers.
Though we applaud the Government of Liberia for identifying and arresting some of the alleged perpetrators, it must go beyond this to ensure the constitution of an independent investigative board for the purpose of giving justice to the people of Lofa and those victimized. Let it not be the usual thing. Let’s get serious for peace and development now.