CPP Chairman Joseph Boakai Calls for National Dialogue to Find Solution to the Increasing Number of ‘Zogos’ in the Communities

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MONROVIA – The Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Mr. Joseph Nyuma Boakai has called for a speedy and impartial investigation into circumstances which led to the deaths of 29 persons at a crusade stampede in the Borough of New Kru Town, outside Monrovia and the advancement of a national roadmap to address the growing number of disadvantaged youths across the country.

Mr. Boakai is also the Standard Bearer of the former ruling Unity Party (UP). He served on the party’s ticket as Vice President for 12 years.

At least 29 worshippers, including a pregnant woman, died in a stampede which occurred at the D. Twe Football field in the Borough of New Kru Town, outside Monrovia after a criminal gang comprising of scores of disadvantaged youths reportedly staged a hijacking and robbing attack from the main entrance of the field following the climax of the first day of an open-air crusade on January 20, 2022.

Dozens of others are hospitalized and reported missing.

Founded in 1920s, the Borough is a township located on the Bushrod Island in district # 16, Montserrado County.

The deceased include: 11 minors (six girls, five boys), and 18 adults (16 women, two men).

The victims were among thousands of other worshippers who trooped the stadium for the healing and salvation crusade which was being hosted by renowned Liberian Apostle Abraham Kromah.

Apostle Kromah, who has been nicknamed “More Grace”, is the Founder/General World of Life Outreach Mission International (WOLOMI) located in Monrovia. He is regarded for his ability to perform miracles during crusades, revivals and divine worship services.

The stampede occurred around 9PM when news broke out that the disadvantaged youths who were armed with knives, machetes and other deadly weapons were hijacking and armed robbing the first group of worshippers that made their way out of the field shortly after the end of the crusade.

Disadvantaged youths are commonly known as “zogos” in Liberia.

In a statement issued in Monrovia over the weekend, former Vice President Boakai observed that the incident will remain in the hearts of relatives, loved ones of the victims and all Liberians forever.

He said government should fairly serve justice without fear or favor because, family members of the victims are eager to know the actual cause of the unfortunate incident.

“As we mourn the sad and devastating deaths of our fellow compatriots most of whom are innocent children whose glorious future was painfully thwarted by this dreadful and unfortunate incident, I call for a speedy and credible investigation into the entire episode that instantly claimed these valuable lives and inflicted bruising bodily wound on several more. This horrifying toll would no doubt tinge on our hearts forever”.

“Consequently, in these somber and wailing moments, the most respect and love we can give to all who have died in this stampede is to fairly serve them justice without fear and favor. The grieving families deserve to know what caused the deaths of their beloved relatives who had peacefully gone to seek the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ and would be tragically exterminated by a stampede as reported so far. Liberians in their generality also deserve to know what caused the chilling demise of their fellow compatriots”.

Already, President Weah has mandated a full scale investigation into the incident.

National crisis

Former VP Boakai maintained that “even as we await the investigation and its subsequent outcomes, we cannot blindly gloss over the hard truth that the issue of sprawling disadvantaged youth alias “Zogos” across the length and width of our country has reached a crisis proportion and the fierce urgency to tackle what seems an existential threat hovering over the nation cannot be overemphasized or taken lightly”.

He added that the issue of thousands of disadvantaged youths “unpleasantly characterized as “Zogos” is a national crisis that demands a compelling, pragmatic, and structured national solution”.

“This, I believe, must be treated with the greatest degree of exigency and urgency. The time is NOW for the nation through its government to design a comprehensive and doable national program with the appropriate budgetary allotment to address and resolve this crisis once and for all”.

“Zogos” deserve better

Mr. Boakai maintained that the thousands of young Liberians hooked on drugs and sheltering in the streets corners and ghettos across Liberia deserve much better and “we as a country inarguably owe it to them, to ensure that they are decisively removed from the streets, sheltered in befitting correctional facilities, adequately rehabilitated, and methodically reintegrated into society as better citizens who can pursue greater dreams like all of us”.

He noted that the well-being of these disadvantaged youths is squarely the responsibility of the government and therefore, government must own up to its responsibility now.

“For me, this is not politics or an attempt to politically leverage this crisis as some political pundits from the opposing side of the political spectrum would more likely than not accuse me of doing. This, for me, is the faith of our nation which borders on national security and the balance of the social fabric of our homeland, which, more than anything, must be treated with the highest degree of emphasis”.

“While the act of thuggery and gangsterism which has become a way of life and survival for these kids is reprehensible, disconcerting, and condemnable, there are lingering questions for all of us to ponder over and rationalize the circumstances we are faced with at the hands of these troubled young kids. If these disadvantaged kids are abandoned by their country and their fate is to maraud the streets and fend for themselves without a vocation, what do we expect of them? If terrorizing peaceful citizens is the only means of survival for them, what do we expect of them? If being hooked on drugs and dwelling in graveyards as their permanent abode is the fate of these beautiful kids, how do we expect them to be better citizens?”

Take actions

Mr. Boakai, however, called government to go beyond declaring three-days of national mourning and take genuine action now.

He called for an immediate national dialogue to weave a roadmap on the essential need to save the thousands of disadvantaged youths across the country through a national program backed by appropriate budgetary allotment.

“We have no choice, it’s either we do it now or we sit supinely while these disadvantaged kids expand into battalions of beastly thugs and wage a dreadful war on all of us one fateful morning—and the consequences I bet would be much dire than what we sadly experienced in New Kru Town a few days ago”.

“By this, I like to emphasize that the National Solution that would emerge from the National dialogue which I have herein proposed will save the lives of both these disadvantaged youths and the lives of all of us as well as preserve the hard-earned peace of the country”.

National crisis

Mr. Boakai maintained that the current situation is a “national crisis created by ourselves”, noting that, “let’s immediately own up to it and collectively confront it with the singular purpose of solving this spelling nightmare once and for all”.

“I hereby declare my willingness by any means possible to sit on this dialogue with other stakeholders and expert individuals to etch out a national solution to address and eradicate this creeping national threat. I offer my prayers for our nation during these dark hours of national mourning”.

“With a heart shattered by grief over the loss of 29 precious lives of Liberians in the recent horrific stampede incident that occurred in the New Kru Town community, I extend my prayers and deepest sympathy to the bereaved families. May God grant you all solace during these dark and devastating hours”.

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