GANTA, Nimba – Commercial motorcyclists in Nimba are threatening to disrupt the impending December 8 senatorial elections if the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in the county delays in prosecuting a man accused of murdering a commercial motorcyclist in Ganta in early March this year.
Sgt. Sensee Kowo, the deputy commander of the Ganta Police Depot, reportedly caused the death of a commercial motorcyclist, Samuel Selleh, following a tussle. Witnesses say Kowo used excessive force to apprehend Selleh after receiving a complaint that the motorcyclist was illegally using the WiFi at Jackie’s Guest House.
Selleh had resisted when he was asked to discontinue and eyewitnesses reported that the motorcyclist collapsed to the ground after he was choked by Kowo for several minutes and was pronounced dead on arrival at the E&J Medical Center where he was rushed.
Following the incident, Kowo was disrobed, charged with murder, and forwarded to the circuit court in Sanniquellie. He has since been held at the Sanniquellie Central Prison.
But motorcyclists worry that, with Kowo spending two court terms at the prison without a trial, he could be released without facing trial. Liberian law does not permit the legal system to continue to hold pre-trial detainees for longer than two court terms without trial.
The regional coordinator for the Federation of Motorcycle and Tricycle Union of Liberia in Nimba, Bong, and Lofa, Emmanuel Sarty, told journalists in Ganta that motorcyclists have been civil since their colleague was killed, but they have received information that the lawyer of the defendant is contemplating asking the court to set his client free at the end of the third court term Kowo spends in jail.
Sarty threatened that his union would mobilize over 56,000 of its members to disrupt the December 8 senatorial election across Nimba if Sensee Kowo is not tried before the poll.
“No trial for Sensee, no voting by motorcyclists and their families,” he said. “We are going to demonstrate at all polling stations in this county with six caskets painted black and white. Motorcyclists have been labeled as disgruntled, but since March, we have been civil. We are impatient now and we want Sensee to be tried.”
Meanwhile, in Gbuyee, from where the deceased hailed, residents also want a speedy trial of their son’s killer. Peter Gbuyee, who represented the residents, warned that residents of the town would start to protest at various public offices in the county and disrupt any political campaign and election activities in their town.
Selleh’s remains have since been deposited at a funeral home in Ganta and Gbuyee said the government has been asking the family of the deceased to take delivery of the body for burial.
“Government is telling us to take the body from the funeral home and bury it, but we need redress before we can bury our son,” he said. “Judgment should come before burial because if we bury the body, there will be no judgment for us.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Jeremiah Koung of Nimba’s first electoral district promised to stand with the family of the deceased until justice is served. Koung, who plans to run for the Senate, disclosed that he has invited Liberia’s justice minister to a meeting to inquire about the delay in trying Kowo.
If the discussion with the minister is not fruitful, he promised to request that the House of Representatives summon Justice Minister Musah Dean for questioning.
Koung, however, appealed to the family to be patient.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s solicitor general, Cyrennius Cephus, has assured the public that the government is ready to win the case. He praised Rep. Koung’s intervention in calming the situation. The intense pressure from the family and the motorcyclist union has resulted in another key development – the Nimba County Attorney’s office has announced that Kowo will make his first appearance in court on Tuesday.
Featured photo by Jerry Myers