Liberia: Dumoe’s “Statement Is Protected Under Our Laws,” Cllr. Tiawon S. Gongloe

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Monrovia – The Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) President, the erudite lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Saye Gongloe, has stated that Menipakei Dumoe’s statement of not wanting free rice but putting AK-47s in the hands of poor people in Monrovia is protected under the laws of Liberia.

Mr. Dumoe, the acting leader of the Council of Patriots (COP) had posted on his Facebook page on Monday, May 11: “We don’t need free bags of rice. I say we the poor in Monrovia need AK-47s so our leaders can take us seriously.”

Speaking to journalists after he had come from seeing Dumoe, who is behind bars at the Liberia National Police Headquarters in Monrovia, Cllr. Gongloe said he believes by arresting and putting Dumoe in jail was a distraction by the police to take Liberians’ attention from fighting the deadly Covid-19 and dealing with something that shouldn’t be given any attention.

“If somebody says that Liberian people need AK-47, somebody else can disagree with that person; that is what is called a democratic country. People can disagree with each other,” he said.

He insinuated that it is not right for the government to get nervous about every statement that is made; adding: “This is a very poor country; we are almost 200 years old.”

If somebody says that Liberian people need AK-47, somebody else can disagree with that person; that is what is called a democratic country. People can disagree with each other

Liberia National Bar Association President, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe

Cllr. Gongloe also thinks that the police was unprofessional in their handling of the situation. According to him, such behavior from the police force has the propensity to make investors and others who have decided to come to Liberia think that Liberia is still a “fragile country that every little thing can make the government nervous.”

“That is what I told the police that their actions undermine the State of Emergency, which is to fight the Coronavirus. They shouldn’t be dealing with simplistic things like this that somebody makes a statement, which is not even on the radio or newspaper but on his Facebook page that when you aren’t his friend, you won’t read the statement,” Cllr. Gongloe further said today, Wednesday, May 13, before the LNP Headquarters after had come from seeing Dumoe.

The LNBA President disclosed that he had left his client sitting and he was being interrogated by the police. He added: “He was advised not to speak until they charge and send him to court. Because the last time I checked all anti-speech laws in this country have been repelled.”

He thanked President George Weah for sending a bill to the Legislature that sedition, criminal malevolence and others have been repelled.

Even though he said he doesn’t like the statement and won’t make such personally, but Cllr. Gongloe, a former Solicitor General of Liberia, further said that Dumoe has the right under Article 14 of the Liberian Constitution to think the way he feels and under Article 15 to express himself.

He maintained that Dumoe’s crime would have been being in possession of an arm that is not registered by the government but a mere expression doesn’t make him a criminal.

Cllr. Gongloe said the police still have the right to hold Dumoe within 48 hours and hopes that they will release him at the end of the 48 hours because he has done nothing wrong.

“If they don’t see any reason to hold him further, they will release him. If they don’t, under our laws, lawyers will file in habeas corpus in his defense and he will be freed. Under the State of Emergency, the one thing that is never suspended is the right to habeas corpus.”

On Tuesday, May 12, another lawyer of Dumoe, Cllr. Findley Karngar expressed his lack of confidence in the police.

If they don’t see any reason to hold him further, they will release him. If they don’t, under our laws, lawyers will file in habeas corpus in his defense and he will be freed. Under the State of Emergency, the one thing that is never suspended is the right to habeas corpus.”

Cllr. Tiawon S. Gongloe

Cllr. Karngar had said: “The police had the intention to have had my client arrested and they lied that we were only going for a conference. This was wrong, the police knows that. I had told my client not to be afraid because I was told that they had only invited my client for a conference. So he didn’t only eat but really didn’t tell his family,” said Cllr. Karngar. He also indicated that the police and lawyers have a special bond of speaking very clearly to the other person when it comes to the arrest or call-in of their client(s) by the police.

Cllr. Karngar backed Dumoe for speaking metaphorically when he asked for AK-47s to be placed in the hands of poor Liberians so that their leaders can take them seriously.

Mr. Dumoe is the acting leader of the COP, inarguably the leading and most vibrant pressure group on the Liberian government of President Weah.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Dumoe’s home had been searched by state security officers and no arms were found. However, Police Spokesman Moses Carter and Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon had informed journalists on Tuesday that the police had confiscated some “interesting items” from the home of Dumoe for their investigation. Dumoe’s COP has organized some of largest anti-Weah protests, which drew the attention of the worldwide media.

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