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Liberia’s January 6 protesters accused the government of planting guns in their (protesters) vehicles

MONROVIA, Liberia – In stern contrast to allegations by the Liberian government and the Liberian National Police (LNP) that protesters of the January 6, 2020 abnormalities and unrests in Liberia had guns and ammunition in their (protesters) vehicles to cause chaos, members of the protesters and Liberians across a broad spectrum are countering that it was the Liberian government using the Liberia National Police that planted the guns and ammunition in protesters vehicles to make it appear that the protesters had bad intentions to disrupt peace and security in the country.

During the January 6 protest, a squad within the Liberia National Police began using teargas and hot water on the protesters while also raiding and arresting some of them. 

The LNP’s raid, arrests, and intimidation, according to sources, created panic and fear that forced the protesters to flee and seek refuge, deserting their belongings, which included vehicle, food, and other items.

One of the vehicles confiscated included a pickup truck belonging Honorable Yekeh Kolubah, an outspoken opposition member, a critic of Liberian President George Manneh Weah, and an executive member of the Council of Patriot, the group which organized the protest.

President George Weah

Later, the Liberia National Police said in a statement that it discovered numerous weapons and ammunition, including a 9-Millimeter Lugar black pistol, one magazine, and four rounds as well as a barrister Pistol in two of the vehicles belonging to Honorable Kolubah.

Meanwhile, Honorable Kolubah, who is also a member of the Liberia National Legislature, representing Montserrado County District #10, has denied the police’s allegation as “false and misleading.”

Adding that “at no time he or anyone in the protest carried guns in his vehicles during the anti-government protest on Monday, January 6.”

The Liberian lawmaker, who is one of core and influential leaders of the Council of Patriots (COP), accused the Liberian National Police of spraying thousands of protesters with water cannon and teargas with the intent of diverting concerns facing the country and as an attempt to incriminate him and the COP.

 “I don’t own a gun. As a matter of fact, I am the Co-chair [of the House committee] on National Defense. I am entitled to a gun to protect myself, but the police have refused to give me a gun,” Representative Kolubah said.

Veteran Opposition Rep. Yekeh Kolubah

“Those guns were not owned by me. They were placed in my cars by Sam Siryon, deputy director of the National Security Agency (NSA). You saw the recording when they first searched my cars while the journalists were going live,” said Honorable Kolubah during an interview with Sky FM’s popular 50-50 show on Tuesday.

The COP and Honorable Kolubah plan seek legal redress through court action against the Liberia National Police.

In a related development, the chairman of the COP, fearless opposition leader Henry Costa, during a news conference late Monday evening described the police’s action as an “onslaught by the state.”

“Our peaceful protest ended in an onslaught by the State,” Costa said.

“Our people were peaceful until they were provoked and teargassed, and several of them got wounded. We have been told at least five of them are in police custody, and for what?”    

Another Liberian political figure and leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings labeled the firing of teargas on peaceful protesters as a clear trademark of tyrants.

Cummings, the former Coco-Cola executive, said the action by the LNP exposed the protesters to fear, suffering, injury, and risk of death. 

Former Coco-Cola senior executive Alexander Cummings

“This singular act on the part of the government is intended to abrogate the constitutional right of assembly guaranteed to citizens of this nation and sets the precedent for future use of arbitrary decisions to revoke our constitution in part or in a whole. It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, the ANC condemned.

Meanwhile, Honorable Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Liberia’s information minister, argued that the police use of teargas was triggered by the January 6 protesters’ decision to lit coal pot on the grounds of the Capitol, the seats of the National Legislature, the Supreme Court and the Liberian presidency.

In New York and London, several human rights groups have begun documenting incidences resulting from the Monday, January 6 protest in Liberia.

Liberian police and protester in confrontation
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Blama G. Konuwah

Blama G. Konuwah resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a public issues analyst and senior contributor to Globe Afrique.
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