Liberia: ‘My Life Is Not Safe’ – Family of Government Critic Reports Death Threats

Imam Jeneka Turay

BREWERVILLE – The family of an Islamic cleric, who has been consistent in his criticisms of the government of Liberia, has reported threats from supporters of the administration. 

Mariama Dabah Kpaka, the wife of Imam Jeneka Turay, who now lives outside of Liberia, has told police in Brewerville she and her three children have continued to face death threats since 2018.

By Gerald C. Koinyeneh

Kpaka told the police unidentified callers often threaten her family, demanding her husband stops his criticisms of the government. She said vehicles with tinted windshields once asked her neighbor for her whereabouts.

“My life is not safe, and they are still threatening me because of my husband’s stand against the government,” Kpaka wrote in a statement to the police on November 10 seen by this paper on Sunday.  

“I want the government and others to come to my refuge,” the statement said.

Turay has been very vocal on the administration of President George Weah since the football legend assumed Liberia’s highest office. He has spoken out on everything from the government’s failure to establish a Liberian war crimes court to the state of security of the country.

“Liberia is no longer safe. [Armed robbery is increasing daily,” he said in an October Facebook post last year after the horrible murder of Maude Elliot, an immigration officer in her home in the very Brewerville, and other high-profile murders elsewhere.

Brewerville has witnessed at least one murder after the killing of the immigration officer, including another woman earlier this year. 

Roosevelt Morgan, the community policing chairman of Moulton Corner in Brewerville, said Kpaka “brought the complaint and I asked her to leave the country.”

Turay’s criticisms have continued this year. Mocking President Weah over the United States’ sanctioning of former Minister of States and Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill, former Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) Bill Twehway and former Solicitor General Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus for alleged corruption. The officials later resigned after they had been suspended, with Weah ignoring calls for the men to be dismissed and prosecuted.  

“Thank you, President Weah for suspending the sanctioned officials,” Turay said sarcastically in a post in August of this year. “I hope you, too, will resign when your name is called.”

Turay has also experienced online threats from supporters of the government and he has withheld his location over safety concerns.

“Your constant habit of posting negative things about our party needs to come to an end,” wrote Sylvester M. Johnson, a Facebook user in April last year. “Don’t forget you have a lovely family down here.

“We have your children school location and where they [live],” Johnson wrote and later deleted the post.

Another Facebook user called Georgia Tweh whose profile is a picture of Weah even posted to her Facebook page that he had died.

“The all-time critical imam on the Weah government is [reportedly] dead. Our President’s name is going to rest from his mouth,” the post read, alongside a photograph of Turay lying on a hospital bed with oxygen tube in his mouth. Johnson also deleted the post.    

Kpaka said she has experienced more intimidations than the ones she reported to the police. She told this paper that her family has moved three times within the last four years, adding that unknown persons threw stones on the roof of their immediate previous home.

“I worry every night about me and my children’s safety,” he said. “Anything can happen to us anytime.”