MONROVIA — The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), through its President Bishop Kortu K. Brown, has attributed the growing wave of violence in the country, including the recent saga in Maryland County, to the persistent delay in probing, concluding and releasing investigative reports on suspects and those accused of engaging into unlawful acts, particularly secret and mysteriously killings and deaths.
It can recalled that hundreds of aggrieved citizens, mostly women, on Wednesday, March 31, staged a violent protest in the cities of Pleebo and Harper following the gruesome murder of a senior student of the Pleebo High School, Mordecai Nyumah on suspicion of ritualistic killing.
The protesters set ablaze one of the homes of House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers and the prison compound in the county shortly after the arrest and subsequent detention of a suspect in connection with the murder incident.
But speaking in an exclusive interview with Frontpage Africa at his premises in Brewerville, outside Monrovia on Thursday, April 1, Bishop Brown pointed out that the delay by security forces to promptly investigate reports and suspects involved into lawlessness remains the order of the day in Liberia as a result of lack of coordination and cooperation among state security actors.
He noted that citizens will continue to take the laws in their hands if state security forces and members of the Judicial continue to delay the investigation and subsequent prosecution of culprits or those in the constant habit of perpetrating violent acts across the country.
He added that the failure of these relevant authorities to act swiftly would lead to mounting violence and lawless acts in the nation because; citizens will feel that they cannot be protected by the state.
Bishop Brown noted that it does not augur well for state security actors to wait for citizens to take the laws into their own hands before guaranteeing the protection of the citizens.
“The Liberia Council of Churches strongly condemns the killing and killers of student Mordecia Nyumah. In this time, it’s unfortunate that the lives of innocent Liberians continue to be taken in different parts of the country. The incident in Maryland is one of the growing threats in Liberia and we call on the government to do whatever it can as speedily as possible to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice”.
“Secondly, we do not support the destruction of public and private properties. The taking of the law into our own hands is not a good example for the rule of law. Liberians have to realize that we have had so many conflicts and we have to focus on strengthening the rule of law even though it is difficult sometimes. We want to appeal to Marylanders to remain calm and avoid the destruction of public and private properties”.
Bishop Brown stated that security forces must accelerate investigations on allegations of mysterious or secret killings and desist from presenting “inconclusive” reports on these allegations to the public.
“Sometimes investigations into some of these mysterious deaths will take so long; sometimes it is inconclusive. I heard from Maryland that one of the concerns of the locals there is similar thing happened before and they do not think that it was properly adjudicated; and they don’t want this other case to be the same like the previous one”.
“There is a delay in trying to investigate some of these complaints. People are dying mysteriously and for example, we want to know what is the level of investigation in the death of the EPS officer who lost his life in Nimba County?”.
Bishop Brown pointed out that government should have vigorously investigated the matter in a timely manner in the wake of numerous doubts from the family members that the EPS officer took away his own life.
When this is done, the Liberian Clergyman pointed out that government will be building citizens’ trust and confidence in the rule of law and its investigative processes.
Commenting further, Bishop Brown disclosed that though the LCC does not support the violent conduct of the protesting citizens of Maryland County, the Council fully stands with citizens on their “genuine concerns” to ensure that the killing of the young student is investigated and justice is served.
He noted that citizens of the county should implore the rule of law in exercising their constitutional rights.
Bishop Brown further expressed dismay over the consistent downplaying of investigative reports released by presidential committees setup to probe unlawful acts or happenings across the country.
“The Government of Liberia should know that if it fails to implement recommendations of investigations that are based on combustible issues, you are contributing or encouraging people to act outside of the rule of law. So, it’s important for the government to encourage people to act in adherence to the rule of law”.
He added that ritualistic and mysterious killings and corruption are increasing in Liberia, and as such, government should act rapidly to address the concerns being raised by citizens before they take the law into the own hands.
Bishop Brown said these situations remain alarming and worrisome.
Lack of coordination
Speaking further, Bishop Brown observed the lack of coordination between the offices of relevant authorities of the justice sector in Liberia.
He made specific reference to recent comments made against the judiciary by Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue-blaming the growing wave of armed robbery and other crimes on the constant habit of the courts to release these suspects from prison.
Col. Sudue’s claim prompted the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Francis Korkpor to reportedly request him to be specific to a particular case.
According to him, the current situation between these security actors remains a major concern to the Council.
He noted that the lack of coordination of hierarchies of the justice sector in Liberia has the proclivity to undermine peace and stability in Liberia.
Mob justice undermines true justice
Meanwhile, Bishop Brown has cautioned Liberians against taking the laws into their laws, despite the alleged delay of state security actors to speedily investigate or conclude probe into grave issues.
He noted that citizens or family members and others would not be accorded the justice which they seek for their deceased relatives or others if they allowed their anger to provoke them to instigating acts of violence.
“If we encouraged mob justice and undermined true justice, it’s difficult for us to be able to sometimes have the conclusion of the facts in the search for justice. They should investigate the two concerns-the murder of the student and the protesters taking the law into their hands”.
“The way we will undermine the growing wave of violence in our country is that the law enforcement and the judiciary will have to act as swiftly as it can”.
Bishop Brown indicated that as Liberia draws nearer to the conduct of the 2023 general and presidential elections, the safeguarding of the country’s peace and stability should be a paramount concern to the government and all Liberians.
According to him, the Council also remains concerned about “whether or not the police will continue to be non-partisan in the performance of its duties”, noting that, the “national security forces should be seen to be working in the interest of all Liberians-whether you are in government or you are in the opposition”.
“The President and his people need to realize that their first and foremost priority is to maintain the peace and prioritize the security of the people, ensure that Liberians can go to sleep without any fear that somebody will be standing over you with gun or somebody will run after you on a motorbike somewhere to chop you into pieces. That’s where we are”.
“It is only the government that can give us that confidence. We want to encourage actions on the part of the government by bringing people to justice and bringing culprits on their kneels before the Lord”.