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Protesters demand probe over student’s death

By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County

Family members and protesting students of the William V.S. Tubman University in Maryland Count have besieged offices of County Superintendent George Prowd, demanding an investigation of the mysterious death of their son and fellow student, Anthony Tiaka.

The protesters have given the county authority seven (7) days to provide a pathologist to examine the body of the late Tiaka and establish cause of death, threatening to take unspecified actions, if their demand is not met.  

Student Tiaka was discovered dead on 3rd July 2022 in his bedroom in Pleebo, Zone#5 community in Maryland with gashes on his body.

Family members of the deceased on Tuesday, 12 July converged at the office of County Superintendent Prowd in Harper City, demanding an autopsy on the remains of the late Tiaka to establish cause of death.

A spokesperson for the protestors Patrick Nimely said their gathering was to officially inform Superintendent Prowd about the mysterious death of their son, Anthony Tiaka.

Patrick noted that though the family is not happy, but they are willing to work with local authorities to establish the actual cause of death.

“So as our people were not happy with the way they saw the body, we can assure them that the government will do everything to satisfy her people”, he said.

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Hundreds of protesters peacefully took the streets of Harper City, Maryland electoral district#1, calling local authorities and national government’s attention to the mysterious death of Student Tiaka of Tubman University. His lifeless body was discovered in his bedroom on Sunday, 3rd July.

Report quotes a 12-member coroner jury in the county that examined the body as detailing that the late Tiaka’s eyes had bruises, gashes on his forehead, penis pierced with a sharp instrument, and bled profusely from other parts of his body.

“We are seriously not convinced that our friend, who was lastly seen on Thursday, June 30th, 2022 until the discovery of his lifeless body on 3 July 2022 died of a natural cause,” the protesters said in a statement released during their street protest on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

Organizers of the protest said their activities include gathering at the Grant Public School just before entering Pleebo City, assembling at various local government offices in the district and subsequent submission of a petition to Superintendent George A. Prowd, calling for a forensic investigation into the suspicious death.

Friends of the late Anthony Tiaka, attired in black outfits, chanted battle cries such as “Tiaka Justice, Tiaka Justice, Ayeah Justice”, as they paraded through the streets.

Speaking at Compound Hill, Student Paul Blayon of Tubman University said, they have gathered not to vandalize people’s properties or to cause confusion, but “to constructively protest through the streets and submit our petition but until justice prevails, we will not rest.”

Members of the ‘Justice for Anthony Tiaka’ group said they strongly believe their colleague was gruesomely murdered in cold blood, noting that he was a promising young man.

“We ask the Government of Liberia to carefully handle this case as a matter of urgency, as we unwaveringly pursue justice for an innocent young man who deserved to be alive just as those who murdered him”, the petition reads.

The protesters continue that they are not satisfied with the authority’s response since the incident occurred, noting that by now, they expected preliminary report from the Police or coroner’s jury should have indicted suspects that should be subject to an investigation by now.

“We will stand for justice with our last breath,” they vowed.

The family spokesperson continued that following their engagement with the local authorities, they were welcomed and assured that the actual cause of death will be established.

Mr. Nimely revealed that Superintendent George A. Prowd assured the family that a pathologist will be in the county soon to conduct an autopsy on the body, saying “So we await the government to do everything in their reach to provide the clarity concerning our son’s death.”

Superintendent Prowd has lauded the family for peacefully protesting and assured them that he has informed his boss, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf, currently attending a cabinet retreat in Nimba, about the situation.

“I have sent a copy of report to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the county caucus and we believe as soon as the government ends its retreat in Ganta, Nimba County, the Minister will be in Monrovia to take charge of the matter”, Prowd promised.

The latest street protest in Maryland is one of several citizens’ actions in that county. The last major street protest was back in 2021 that turned violent and led to burning down of public properties, including the home of Speaker Bhofal Chambers over the killing of a commercial motorcyclist in Pleebo. Protesters also vandalized the Harper Central Prison, which prompted the imposition of curfew in both Pleebo and Harper by President George Weah for several days.

A suspect was tried, convicted and sentenced for 40 years. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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