Police Say Weah Did Not Interfere in Old Road Violence

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Liberia National Police has denied claims by Montserrado’s 10th district representative, Yekeh Kolubah, accusing its inspector general, Patrick Sudue, of avoiding arresting perpetrators of Sunday’s violence at a party he organized for children in his district on the orders of President George Weah.

Police spokesman Moses Carter disclosed in a statement late Monday that at no time had the inspector general been ordered by Weah not to deploy officers on the scene of the violence.

On Sunday, January 20, Old Road erupted into a scene of chaos that emanated from a party Kolubah had organized for children in his district. The commotion resulted in young men setting up several roadblocks and riot police being dispatched to the community to dismantle those roadblocks and quell the uprising through the use of shots of tear gas.

Kolubah, who is a fierce critic of Weah, had disclosed in a live video interview that just around the start of the party, a group of men he identified as members of the Coalition for Democratic Change intruded the party and wounded several individuals.

He said he called Sudue nine different times without any response, but saw armed police officer later on the scene. He said police only arrested his security aide, Abu Keita, who protected him throughout during the violence. By the time, he said several individuals had already sustained injuries and were at hospitals.

“We called the director of Police. I called him on nine different occasions in the presence of JKB and Hon. Thomas Goshua. They refused to come. Later, we saw them coming, only for the director of police to tell me that the president gave him instructions not to arrest anybody on the scene because those people that went there, they are all CDCians,” he said.

He also alleged that one of the instigators of the violence disclosed that Monrovia’s Mayor Jefferson Koijee was his boss, and had instructed him not to stand down from the violence. A video circulating on Facebook verifies this claim, but there is no proof yet that Koijee actually sent individuals to disrupt the event.

The lawmaker also claimed that his security was only arrested for doing his job to protect him, and there was no complainant for his arrest. But the police statement said preliminary investigations revealed that the violence began when Keita bit off the ear of Mohammed Bah, a resident of the district, causing him serious bodily injury, for broadcasting the children’s party in a live video.

“It was alleged that victim Bah had gone to the Ford Maiden Christian Academy on the Smythe Road, Old Road, where the party was being held to broadcast live a situation where kids were said to be fainting due to overcrowdiness of the hall,” the statement said.

“When victim Bah was spotted broadcasting the event live, it was during said time that Hon. Kolubah’s security aide, Abu Keita seized victim Bah’s phone and cut his ear in the process.”

In interviews with several individuals, while the rioting was taking place, individuals relayed similar information contained in the police statement.

A crowd gathered around the intersection of Gaye Town and Chugbor Roads, adjacent to where rioters erected a roadblock. Photo: Jefferson Krua

The police statement also said Bah’s injury was what caused some residents of the district to go on the rampage, in an attempt to avenge the acts of the lawmaker’s security. It said immediately after the violence ensued, officers from the Zone Three police depot, along with a host of officers of the Police Support Unit, intervened and brought the situation under control. On the contrary, The Bush Chicken observed that police took over two hours to bring the situation until control, with riot police occasionally dismantling roadblocks only to see them re-established.

“Some of the aggrieved residents of the district even branded the police as a Yekeh Kolubah police due to our officers’ efforts in rescuing Hon. Kolubah and his security aide,” the police said.

“Unfortunately, instead of Hon. Kolubah appreciating the efforts of the police [to] restore calm in his district, he chose to make unfounded statements denigrating the Liberia National Police and its inspector general, Hon. Patrick Sudue.”

The police said contrary to allegations from the lawmaker that the inspector general told him about being instructed by the president not to send police officers to the violent scene, officer visibility was felt in the district.

It further clarified that at no point in time did Weah order Sudue not to send officers to the district: “Moreover, the LNP also clarifies that at no point in time did Hon. Kolubah call IG Sudue and no response was made. From call records available to us, IG Sudue called Hon. Kolubah more than four times in order to check on him and ensure that the situation was brought under control.”

A roadblock set up by rioters. Photo: Jefferson Krua

Also, contrary to what was being alleged by the lawmaker that no resident except his security aide was arrested, the police said 11 other residents were also arrested and are being investigated in connection with Sunday’s violence.

“Those arrested include: Boima Jones, 29; Richard Dolo, 26; Alieu Jalloh, 25; Samuel Kollie, 17; Alvin Kennedy, 32; Clarence E. Josiah, 18; Lincoln Moses, 21. Others include:  Lorenzo L. Johnson, 21; Moses Ross, 17; John William, 27; Andrew Wonah, 17 and Prince T. Waiwor, 18 years respectively,” it said.

On reports of shooting at the home of the lawmaker early Monday morning, the police said it has launched a full-scale investigation into the matter and promised that the outcome would be made available as soon as possible.

Riot police clear a roadblock on Chugbor Road. Photo: Jefferson Krua

It, however, confirmed reports of injuries during the riot, although the police did not mention any deaths, as was initially rumored. It said three children were taken to the Catholic hospital on Sunday, but one of them has already been discharged.

“Parents who spoke to the LNP, Emmanuel Suah, father of victim Lucky Suah; and Krubo Jallah, mother of victim Hannah Togba at the Catholic hospital, confirmed that their kids were injured as a result of the rush in the compound after it was reported that kids were suffocating due to overcrowdiness of the hall,” the statement also noted.

Featured photo by Jefferson Krua

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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