By Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Wednesday was an important day in the life of the Press Union of Liberia, as the Union celebrated 51th years of existence, under the theme: “Building Media Partnerships To Tell The full Story.” As part of this year’s activities, the Union organized a panel discussion at the University of Liberia, where I served as one of the panelists, sharing experience about journalism in Liberia. While at the occasion, I received numerous calls about violent action reportedly by some motorcyclists in the commercial city of Ganta, Nimba County.
It was said that the violence was prompted by the death of one of their colleagues and during the violence, the group, mostly comprising young people looted, attacked a police station and went on setting ablaze a hotel and the homes of the manager of the hotel on suspicion that he was the one responsible for the death of the motorcyclist for ritualistic purposes. As a result of the incident, the police have arrested several suspects and that a curfew has been imposed in the area. But latest report from the county says calm has now returned to Ganta.
According to the version of the story carried by this paper yesterday, chaos broke out yesterday in the Commercial City of Ganta in Nimba County when angry mob attacked the Ganta Police Station and the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) following report that the body of a dead man believed to be a motorcyclist was discovered. The dead body was discovered in a pool of blood yesterday morning around the 404 community with a deep cut on his head.
The angry mob mostly youths stormed the Ganta Police Station, damaged a Police vehicle , entered the building and looted the entire police station including the CID, Traffic Division, the Women and Children Protection Department and finally broke open the Police withholding cell thereby facilitating the escape of the prisoners.
The angry mob further moved to the Avino Hotel and a private residence belonging to businessman, Prince Howard, looted the facility and set ablaze the hotel. Our correspondent said the situation got tensed leading to the deployment of the Liberia National Police (LNP) elite unit, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) backed by the Ghanaian UNMIL soldiers. During the upheaval, the angry mob blocked all roads leading to all communities in Ganta with old irons and drums to prevent vehicles from moving from one point to another.
The angry mob believed that the death of the man was as a result of ritualistic killings which have been on the increase in Nimba as the latest incident is on record to have been the third dead body to be discovered in less than a week with parts extracted. Last week a motorcyclist was killed and his dead body was discovered in Blon Town after he went missing for one week in the county.
Early August 7, 2015, a little girl age 7, went missing and after searching for more than 28 days in Gbagwelay Town, the little girl was found dead with parts extracted. Meanwhile, police officers along with UNMIL soldiers have been deployed at the Police Station in Ganta while Police is calling on citizens to leave the streets.
The Liberia Police County Commander, Morris Tinmah, is presently in Ganta calling on the citizens mostly youths and motorcyclists to remain calm with a promise that the law will take its course. A suspect arrested by the angry mob identified as Bill Freepump allegedly received LD 41, 000 and linked Businessman Prince Howard to the killing of the motorcyclist.
Since the incident, there have been many concerns, expressions and feelings about what may have led to the violent action. Some said that one of those arrested allegedly confessed that the name of the businessman, Prince Howard as being behind the murder, while others said that this might be the result of envy, jealousy and not necessarily of the murder. To some, it is believed that the accused was a member of a cult. Unsurprisingly, many of those who have been commenting on the issues, including talk show callers, denounced this continued trend of violence. For one caller, Idris Bility, he said no matter of anger warranted the violent action as carried on in that strategically-located city in Nimba County.
Again, let me join those who denounced the continued reported killings of people in the county and equally so, let me say that this trend of violence in the county is uncalled for, as violence does not solve any problem. Few months ago, we saw similar lawless act at ArcelorMittal. Some of those involved are presently facing trial. Yet there is reason for this kind of attitude and behavior, especially as it relates to vandalism, affecting a citizen only on suspicion.
This, I feel, is unwarranted and has the potential of discouraging people from investing in that county or city, which in recent time has improved in terms of infrastructures from its sons and daughters. Let me be frank that over the years, I continue to admire the wave of construction and competition among citizens of that county to investment and also Improve the welfare and well-being of their people. And so to see people engaging in such suicidal act, it causes one’s heart to bleed.
While the matter is being investigated, I take note of the concern of others that this act may have been the result of envy and jealousy because of the level or speed at which he is undertaking development. For this, some believe that it was for this that he has been targeted. This, given our sociology that every successful person is a member of a cult or is wealth, is ill-gotten.
As it is always said, “nothing for nothing” in this country. This kind of mentality also goes to people in government whose wealth are also tied to dishonesty or alleged corrupt practices, for which people believe that all people in government are corrupt. No matter how someone works honestly in government, it is believed that that person is corrupt.
Furthermore, this lack of self-confidence among Liberians that they cannot succeed, and that every successful Liberian may have done so through devilish acts, is a matter of concern for which envy and jealousy is the ‘order of the day’. See what happened to that businessman in Nimba whose hotel that was providing employment for his people and his houses were set ablaze. Can this happen to an alien who has been accused in like manner? Certainly, I say a BIG NO, but then why a Liberian, especially a son of the county?
Frankly, it is unfortunate that we believe that foreigners can make it, but that Liberians cannot make it in their own country. We must shun this lack of self-confidence in ourselves and our fellowmen. Even those of us who are Christians, if an outsider comes to this country with a ”Miracle Service” and healed someone, it is truly from God, but if it’s a Liberian, then, it is from the devil or that the Liberian person is possessed with demonic powers. WHY THINK SO?
Let not my discussion be seen as an indictment against anyone or exculpation for anyone for the killing of that innocent motorcyclist, but just a discussion on the issue of envy and jealousy, as I heard others alluding to as the result of the attack on the business. The investigation may prove otherwise.
In this matter at bar, I wish not to talk about prosecution because many times I raised this issue of prosecution, but it appears that these plethora of motorcyclists use of violence are treated as business as usual, thus giving the impression that “this is a country of men and not laws.”
I Rest My Case.