MONROVIA – In the wake of severe hardship and economic constraints confronting vast majority of Liberians in the country, the gruesome and mysterious killings of both low and high-profile citizens in recent times continue to alleviate fears and threaten the survivability of ordinary citizens, bulk of who are already impoverished.
In less than a month, Liberia has witnessed the gruesome murders in cold blood of John Hilary Tubman, William Tolbert, and Madam Maude Elliot.
Mr. Tubman, 76, son of former President William V.S. Tubman, was found dead in his Fiamah residence in Sinkor.
He was found lying face down in his room during the early afternoon hours of September 22 with deep cuts to his neck, and forehead with a pillow placed over his head, according to family sources.
A nephew of Tubman, William Tucker, said his uncle had scheduled an appointment with Mr. Tony Hage, a Lebanese business tycoon, on Wednesday September 22, 2021.
“My uncle and myself along with my niece were to meet Mr. Tony Hage today but I overslept up to12midday,” he said. “But when I woke up, I called the driver to come so we can go to my uncle’s place. And when we came, the gate was still closed, his phone off and the main entrance of the house still closed.”
Said Tucker: “I thought he was charged (drunk) from last night so I told the driver to pass to his window and to call him from there. To our surprise when the driver peeped in, there he was lying in a pool of blood.”
Early Tuesday, November 2, the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Ledgerhood Rennie, confirmed the death of Rev. William R. Tolbert, III, youngest son of ex-Liberian President William R. Tolbert, who was killed in a bloody coup led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe on April 12, 1980.
He was found dead at his home in Monrovia on October 31.
He was retained as National Peace Ambassador of Liberia following the inauguration of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah.
Tolbert III was previously appointed to the post by ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2015.
Days prior to his ascendancy as Peace Ambassador, Tolbert III publicly addressed the critical need for Liberia to uncover the truth behind his father’s death.
“We remind government of our desire to bring closure to those tragic events of April 1980. Our desire should be linked to their commitment to assist us and ensure accomplishment of this goal. However, there are questions which remain unanswered. These affect genuine reconciliation, peace and security, for all Liberians” he stated at the time.
While at his youth age, Tolbert III lamented that the successor government formed by his father’s killers received more aid in just five years than the country had in its entire history.
The statement issued by the Liberian government, through MICAT over the death of the Liberian Peace Ambassador does not clearly state the actual cause of death.
“With profound regrets, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Honorable Varney A. Sirleaf, announces the passing of Rev. William R. Tolbert, III, National Peace Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia. The family of Rev. Tolbert informed Minister Sirleaf on Monday of the death of the Peace Ambassador”.
“The Internal Affairs Minister has described the passing of Rev. Tolbert as an irreparable loss to Liberia. He said the late Rev. Tolbert is a true agent of Peace and reconciliation. Further details will be announced later”.
Many Liberians and others residing in the country prefer the Liberian government to with immediate effect address the incident concerning the death of Rev. Tolbert III with urgency and great importance, with both the Ministries of Justice and Information expressing seriousness to ensure that the incident will not be treated like other incidences that have been swept under the carpet in Liberia.
Police Spokesman Moses Carter also confirmed the death of the Peace Ambassador, but failed to state the actual cause of death. He promised to get back to this paper, but up to press time, he has since failed to do so.
Maude Elliot, an officer of the Personnel Department of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) was killed in cold blood by unknown persons at her Brewerville residence, outside Monrovia during the night hours of Sunday, October 31.
Neighbors and family members found her lying unconscious in a pool of blood with bruises and cuts on her neck and forehead shortly after the incident.
The victim was pronounced dead at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia, where she was taken for advance medical checkup and subsequent treatment.
Eyewitnesses say the victim was staying alone in her house when the incident occurred.
The unknown men broke into the house by removing the iron bars from one of the windows of the victim’s house.
The fear factor
The mysterious murders of the sons of two ex-Liberian President within less than a month have instill fear in ordinary Liberian citizens.
It also raises doubts and speculations over their safety and wellbeing in a nation that has suffered from over a decade of brutal civil unrest.
Already, ordinary or less fortunate Liberian citizens continue to busy themselves by hustling and finding daily breads for them and their respective family members, instead of hiring personal securities or guards to secure their respective homes in the wake of these mysterious killings by unknown persons.
Liberia has not been able to attract foreign-direct investment worth millions of United States dollars since the inception of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah.
This continues to negatively contribute to extreme poverty among vast majority of the populace due to the high rate of unemployment.
Though government continues to announce the willingness of friendly nations and foreign investors to come and do businesses or open companies in Liberia, citizens are yet to see these pronouncements coming to fruition.
The fear factor and consistent reports of mysterious killings, deaths and the high rate of security remain contributing factors preventing investors from coming into the country.
Liberians residing in the diaspora are also skeptical of investing heavily in their motherland for fear that their businesses or companies may collapse due to insecurity or the poor state of the country’s justice system.
Perpetrators walking ‘scout free’
The doers, believed to be assassins, of these mysterious killings in Liberia continue to go with impunity.
In most instances, the Ministry of Justice, particularly the Liberia National Police (LNP) relied on the prolong conduct of investigations to sweep these incidents under the carpet.
Most often, the status of these investigations into the deaths or mysterious killings of citizens and other foreign residents are not made known to the public.
This creates doubts and speculations over the sincerity or honesty of the outcomes of these investigations.
At times, citizens frustratingly blamed the government for being either responsible, connected to the killers, masterminded or sponsored these mysterious killings or deaths. Typical examples are the mysterious deaths of four Liberian auditors one after the other in less than a month last year.
The government struggled to clear her name, but the public perception and thinking were inerasable.
‘One week noise’ country
In Liberia, security agencies and other apparatus frequently feel reluctant to intensify their efforts to launch probe or apprehend perpetrators of unwholesome or heinous acts due to the lack of zest from citizens to keep mounting pressure to ensure that the right things are done properly.
Many citizens prefer giving their time and energy towards hustling to find or win daily bread for them and their respective family members, instead of busying themselves calling or reminding the relevant state security agency to act upon an incident or happening.
This make Liberia to be nicknamed a country with “one week noise” as citizens’ pressure on specific happenings or issues does not last for more than a week. One example is mounting concerns and protests which were initiated when a Alusine Jalloh. A Fula Sierra Leonean national, reportedly escaped from police custody at the headquarters of the LNP on Capitol Hill.
Jalloh was arrested for allegedly killing his stepson Victor Fahnbulleh in the Brewerville Community, outside Monrovia in 2018.
Though nine officers of the LNP were suspended, and later reinstated according to information gathered, suspect Jalloh is yet to be re-arrested as family members continues to weep and live in regret for the loss of their relative up to present.
Many believed that Liberians are no longer taking the laws into their hands or engaging into violent acts as remedies to finding solutions to their problems or situations, due to the fact that they have made up their minds to embrace peace and tranquility in the society, after suffering from devastating years of civil wars.
Liberians are of the conviction that state security actors are now misconstruing their peaceful nature and manner of not engaging into violent acts by staging weeks of peaceful demonstration or protest, to downplay or sway investigations in bringing to book perpetrators of heinous crimes and atrocities being permeated against peaceful Liberian citizens.
Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah is on record of requesting citizens to installClosed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) in their respective homes.
Speaking when he signed the book of condolence of the fallen Director of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Mr. Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa in Monrovia in November 2020, the Liberian leader called on government officials and ordinary citizens to buy their CCTV camera for security protection in the wake of the growing wave of insecurity in the Liberian society.
President Weah stated that though government will do all it can to provide security at the borders to avert external threats, each and every Liberian should be their brother’s keeper.
The statement made by the Liberian leader comes few days after the mysterious deaths of four Liberian auditors.
It can be recalled that on Thursday, October 2, 2020, the lifeless bodies of the Assistant Commissioner for Internal Audit and acting Manager for Tax Payers of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) were found in a vehicle on Broad Street in Monrovia during the early morning hours.
Two days later, another auditor from the LRA, Mr. George Fahnboto, reportedly died in a vehicle accident around 72nd Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
On Saturday, October 10, 2020 the Director of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa was also found dead in his compound along the 72nd Boulevard, outside Monrovia at 2AM.
President Weah’s statement landed him in trouble with theLiberia Council of Churches (LCC).
Founded in 1982, the LCC is the umbrella organization for churches, faith-based and religious institutions operating in Liberia.
The Council, through its President, Bishop Kortu K. Brown, termed the statement made by the President as a high level of “frustration”.
Bishop Brown claimed that President Weah spoke out of frustration over the situation that has engulfed the nation, as well as the slow pace of investigation into the mysterious deaths of the four Liberian auditors working in his government.
“I think what President Weah could have meant is that, the whole crisis is getting more and more confusing; more difficult to solve, and that he’s probably getting or expressing his level of frustration with the process, the police investigation and just everything because, you don’t know who is killing who and how people are dying at the time when people are even struggling to find food to eat everyday”.
“It speaks to the frustration of the President himself which is good, but the President should not be there just expressing his level of frustration; he should take actions to ensure that the wave of mysterious deaths within our society are addressed”.
The flimsy excuse
The Liberia National Police (LNP) has the statutory mandate to protect lives and properties in the country.
But since the inception of the CDC led-government, the LNP, under the leadership of Patrick Sudue-a former bodyguard of President George Manneh Weah-has not been adequately carrying out its assigned tasks and responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.
Despite the huge budgetary support from government and its international partners towards Liberia’s security sector, the LNP remains one of the security agencies that continue to cry for logistical support.
“I don’t know what you termed as secret killings; but what I do know is that, murder is something that happens all around the world, our responsibility as an investigative institution is to ensure that when people commit murder, they are not allowed to go with impunity and that is why we will ensure that the perpetrators of this act are made to face the full weight of the law” Moses Carter told FrontPage via telephone.
We can’t be all over
Carter emphasized that though the police regret the incident and will ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted in keeping with the laws of Liberia, citizens and others should be cognizant of the fact that the police cannot be all over at the same time.
He noted that though the police continue to intensify efforts in combating against crimes and protecting lives and properties in Liberia, the lack of adequate logistical support remains a challenge.
“We have launched our patrol across the country, but the police cannot be everywhere at the same time. We reached some of these places and some of these places we do not reached. It doesn’t mean that because we didn’t reach to some of these areas, we are not going to reach there. That’s why we have the community police; they should be able to help us in that direction”.
With these kinds of flimsy excuse and poor justifications being provided, Liberians and other foreign residents residing in the country will now have to take precautionary measures to guarantee their own safety and security.
For a whole country Peace Ambassador and two sons of ex-Presidents to be killed in such a manner and form in Liberia implies that Liberia has to do more in terms of strengthening security and the rule of law in the nation.
As fear continues to grip sons, daughters and other relatives of ex-Liberian Presidents and others in the country over “who’s next” to be killed in cold-blood, the Liberian government, through its security actors has an uphill task to tighten its belt and intensify efforts to ensure that Liberia is peaceful, safe and calm to attract foreign-direct investments to resuscitate the already shattered economy and provide job opportunities for its citizens, bulk of whom are unemployed.