Liberia: Family of Late Central Bank Senior Staff Rebuts Early Accounts of His Death

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Monrovia – Families of the late Matthew J. Innis, Deputy Director for Micro-finance in the Regulation and Supervision Department at the Central Bank of Liberia, are finding it difficult to believe the initial story surrounding their relative’s death, which is alleged to have occurred on Sunday, March 3, morning along the 72nd Boulevard Road.

Innis’ family members at his home are of the conviction that he did not die of a “hit-and-run” accident as being widely speculated in the public.

Our reporter who visited the home of Innis overheard family members saying that their relative was allegedly murdered by unknown men.

In their various discussions, they explained that Innis left home in the morning hours on Saturday to attend to office matters at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

“After he left the house for work, my uncle called him by 2pm but couldn’t get him. His phone was off. We tried again at night, his phone was still off. We didn’t hear from him again until we went to bed. Surprisingly at about 2:30AM Sunday, we heard some people from the community knocking our gate telling us that my father was found lying on the main road near his car,” Innis’ daughter explained in tears to friends who had gone to sympathize with her.

She also explained that she was told that her father was found without his shoes on his feet, but were in the car.

“We don’t believe that he was hit by a car, how can car hit someone and only his head is affected? No other parts of the body got hit only his head had bruises like he was mobbed,” one of the family members noted.

A family member source told this newspaper Sunday night: “By 2 a.m., we only heard a group of young men banging on our gate saying that the pappy had been hit by a car and his body is on the road. Before we got to the road, his body has been removed. We were told that the police had taken him to Stryker Funeral Home and the police was driving his car.”

Who was Matthew in the Neighborhood?

FrontPageAfrica’s reporter, who visited the Innis’ residence Monday, found out that the deceased was a friendly and popular figure in his community.

Most of the young people, especially men, who knew him called him “Skip.” One Francis told this newspaper that the late had, few days ago, promised to help him and another colleague with some finance to start a mini business of their own. “My brother that is what our brabie (big brother) used to do for us in this community,” Francis added.

Innis’ “mysterious death” follows the immediate release of two damning reports about shady deals at the Central Bank of Liberia, which billions of Liberian dollars are unaccounted for, according to the reports. At least five persons, including the immediate past former Executive Governor of the Bank, Mr. Milton Weeks and the present Deputy Executive Governor for Operations, Mr. Charles Sirleaf, were picked up over the weekend by the Liberia National Police. Mr. Sirleaf is son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who some believe seriously played a role in bringing the present Liberian government into power.

What Does Mrs. Innis Think?

FrontPageAfrica was unable to reach his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Teta Harris-Innis, who currently resides in the United States of America. However, sources close to the family in Liberia and US have hinted that Mrs. Innis, like the rest of the family, is in a state of total shock and disbelief. Mrs. Innis equally holds similar views of that of the rest of the family on the ground in Liberia.

What Do Others think?

Meanwhile, Innis’ death has drawn skepticisms from a spectrum of the public as it happened during the ongoing clamp down by state prosecutors of current and past CBL officials in the wake of the US-backed Kroll and the Special Presidential Task Force reports.

Others have likened his death to that of Harry Greaves, former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum and Refining Company (LBRC) who was found dead on the beach near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 31, 2016.

Although police investigation found that Harry Greaves died of drowning, families, friends and skeptics still maintain that he was murdered.

“Only a stupid fool will believe that Innis was killed in an accident after a major investigation that is about to expose Tweah (Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah), Patray (CBL Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray) and the rest of the corrupt gangsters for the US$25 million,” writes an FPA reader identified as Marc Saint Luc.

Another reader, Jay Wion also writes: “They are going to Harry Greaves, some people who they will suspect know too much. I had warned in my commentary before the findings were made public by the American Embassy on the likelihood of the reintroduction of the mysterious and gruesome murder of Harry Greaves, who knew too much on the NOCAL (National Oil Company of Liberia) bankruptcy.

Amos Brown did not mince his words when he wrote: “It seems that Innis had some incriminating evidence, so, they had to take him out. Probably, the police did the job. When the police is turned into a hired gun, it is scary! Liberia is a dangerous place!”

A Call for Speedy Investigation

At least one of Innis’ workmates, who worked with him at the Central Bank, Jay G. Brown, while being careful not to be drawn in “conspiratorial explanations,” believes that the circumstances surrounding the death of Innis need to be properly established.

He added: “Spending more than one and a half decade in the Central Bank of Liberia and the loveable character ‘Choe’ wore, he was able to make friends including myself who are able to ensure at the barest minimum the circumstances leading to his death this morning/last night are probed. I shall close ranks with other friends with the goal of assisting the family in understanding what happened to Matthew Innis. That is the least we can offer to a fallen friend! Rest in Peace.”

Police Respond

“The Liberia National Police says it has launched an immediate investigation into the death of a 48-year-old man identified as Matthew Innis, a resident of 72nd Community in Paynesville and a former employee of the Central Bank of Liberia, who allegedly died in a fatal road traffic accident on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 0200hrs.

“The LNP hereby urges the public to remain calm as it investigates the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.

“Members of the public are also urged to desist propagating hasty conclusions ahead of a Police investigative outcome.”Gerald C. Koinyeneh contributed to this report

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