Liberia: Standoff In Monrovia as Police Denies President Weah’s Fierce Critics, Supporters Passage on Main Boulevard
Monrovia – A Serious standoff occurred Thursday, December 19, in Monrovia when police denied supporters of talk-show host and fierce critic of President George Weah, Mr. Henry Pedro Costa, passage through Tubman Boulevard, a major route leading to the center of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.
Costa’s supporters, who gathered in their numbers, paraded with him from the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County and were moving towards the Capital, Monrovia as a sign of welcoming him back from the United States of America.
The standoff was as a result of the blockade by Liberian joint security personnel. Their blockage prevented commuters and peaceful pedestrians from plying along the Tubman Boulevard for nearly three hours.
The protesters were chanting slogans against the poor economic situation currently being experienced in Liberia. The also pleaded with the LNP to give them free passage to enable them to continue their celebration of the return of their “hero” – Costa.
The blockage was placed immediately when Costa was just approaching the Vamoma House Junction in Sinkor.
“There is no law that said I should not pass here, I did not see a barricade, why are they treating us like this. Their action means, they don’t know anything because there are road traffic laws.”– Cllr. Samuel Zayzay, a Liberian legal luminary
During the blockage, a Liberian legal luminary, Cllr. Samuel Zayzay, who claimed to work for the Tubman Law Firm was arrested and brutalized by joint security personnel when he tried to force his way through the blockage with his vehicle.
He was forcibly pulled from his vehicle by the police officers in riot gears leaving the jeep to run uncontrollably into a white SUV containing some female occupants, who were seen visibly shaking after the collision.
Zayzay was held by his trousers’ belt straps on both ends by officers, who lifted him and had him toes-walking as they took him to one of their waiting vehicles, which whisked him off to where we can’t say. His black Nissan jeep was also taken by one of the officers.
Before he was taken away, Cllr. Zayzay told FrontPageAfrica that his insistence to move through with his car was due to the lack of signal along the way, to indicate that said area was a no-go-zone.
“There is no law that said I should not pass here, I did not see a barricade, why are they treating us like this. Their action means, they don’t know anything because there are road traffic laws,” Cllr. Zayzay stressed.
Denial of the Sick to Pass
Another serious situation that caught the attention of many was the denial of a sick and dying patience, under emergency. The sick man’s male relative was so frustrated that he, too, tried to force his way with his vehicle. He only tried doing so after appealing to all the senior officers on the scene. The officers had very cold hearts and blatantly denied the man and his sick brother passage. His brother had been allegedly denied admittance at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and so he was rushing him to the Catholic Church-run St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, which is a mile from where the standoff occurred.
FrontPageAfrica was later informed that the man had to literally tote his sick brother on his back in order to get to the other side of the barricade before he could get him to the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital.
Some long minutes following the incident between Cllr. Zayzay and the police, serious tension broke out between the police and supporters of Costa.
It was indeed a poor security tactic from the joint security forces, who had allowed Costa to travel from the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County to Sinkor before he was blocked from further entering the city center.
The march was peaceful from the Roberts International Airport until the multitude of supporters, few feet from Vamoma Junction on the Tubman Boulevard, where blocked by the police in riot gears, preventing cars and pedestrians from going to and fro, on either side of the road, creating a standoff for hours till an unknown group, who were later identified as the “Sabu Unit”, infiltrated and caused havoc making peaceful citizens to run helter-skelter as police shot teargas.
The police had blocked both side of the road after noticing the mammoth crowd approaching central Monrovia along with the Council of Patriots’ (CoP) lead campaigner of the nationwide protest, popularly known as the “Weah Step down Campaign.”
The crowd had gone to welcome Costa, who arrived from the United States of America via Accra, Ghana.
Residents in the Paynesville areas could not get home while people from that side of the city could not also get to central Monrovia because the police were preventing everyone from passing through their blockage.
The area was at a standstill until some group of men believe to be members of the ruling party’s para-militia — Sabu Unit stirred up trouble.
FrontPageAfrica noticed that just before the infiltration of those men, who came openly brandishing long, sword-like knives, plank having long nails in them, police officers were noticed pulling back into a waiting bus, which was among their vehicles creating the blockage.
Just few minutes after this pullback, the ruling party’s Sabu Unit came running through and behind the peaceful protesters, with their weapons. This sparked a confused melee as people ran helter-skelter. Right there and then, it was when the police took advantage of the situation and began firing teargas at people, who were running from these thugs. This ignited a brief stone-throwing situation from some of Costa’s supporters, who were on the other side of the blockage.
The Police also turned their teargas canisters on those stone-throwers and shot at them, too.
FrontPageAfrica can’t really say how Costa, Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, Mo Ali, who were visibly seen sitting on the top of a vehicle, quickly vanished from the scene when the hullabaloo broke out.
Many people reported injuries, including a girl of seven being hurt on the side of her head and eye.
FrontPageAfrica, which was on the scene and in the thick of all of the unfolding as they happened, spoke with a cross-section of Liberians, who had been affected by the incident on the Tubman Boulevard.
Moses Garjay expressed serious disappointment in the action of the police to block the road preventing peaceful Liberians from moving for hours.
“Why did they treat us like we are slaves in our own country? Why should the police even stop others from going when they know fully well that some of us are not part of this? This is bad!”
Chris Yekeh, another man, who claimed that he was not a part of Costa’s supporters noted: “This is the worst and stupid strategy being used by the police today. This is very ugly on the part of police. Are the police telling us that because of this one guy you prevent the rest of the citizens’ freedom of movement?” he asked in anger.
Prior to the arrival of Mr. Costa at the Robert International Airport Thursday, a contingent of armed officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) were seen at the airport and trooped in huge numbers along the highway leading from the airport to Monrovia.
Before Costa’s arrival, rumors had flared that he would have been arrested as soon he landed on Liberian soil. However, Costa arrived Thursday, December 19 and emerged from the airport terminal unhindered, into the embrace of his supporters.
The crowd greeted him as they chanted anti-Weah slogans, including “George Weah go, George Weah go, George Weah go…”
Buses were chartered to transport the CoP’s supporters to and fro the airport, while some carried their own vehicles.
“Weah is not able to govern this country. Weah’s nightmare is here now. December 30 is successful already with the arrival of Mr. Costa. Weah worries with the presence of Henry Costa,” supporters of the December 30 protest sang at the arrival of Henry Costa.
Mr. Costa told supporters upon arrival that he was delighted to be back in Liberia, and there should be no tension about his arrival.
“I’m honored by the turnout today by my supporters and I’m prepared to work in their interest and the general interest of all Liberians. I’m also happy for the love and support,” Mr. Costa said.
Costa told supporters that the purpose of his return to Liberia is because of the importance of the December 30 “Weah Step Down Campaign” protest which, he said, “is supported by thousands of Liberians.”