10 June 2019

Liberia: Govt Sends Rep. Kolubah, 20 Others to Court

Photo: Government of Liberia
President Weah and cabinet (file photo).

Authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) charged and forwarded to court Montserrado District #10 Lawmaker Yekeh Kolubah, and 20 others for prosecution. This comes barely 24 hours after the peaceful protest on Capitol Hill, Monrovia, on Friday, June 7, which brought together thousands of Liberians who expressed their dissatisfaction with government's handling of the economy, corruption and governance.

It can be recalled that on Wednesday, June 5, Rep. Kolubah's supporters and a number of students from the University of Liberia (UL) protested when police invited the lawmaker based on allegations that he ordered the flogging of a man believed to be a resident of Gaye Town, Old Road where Kolubah also resides.

A press statement from the LNP headquarters signed by its chief of press and public affairs, H. Moses Carter, said the LNP charged Rep. Kolubah for "terroristic threat and criminal facilitation."

The June 8, 2019 press release said the LNP has arrested, investigated and charged suspects Abu Keita, 21, Oliver C. Konneh, 47, Mohammed A. Kabba, 34, Johnson Kpor, 21, Varmu Kolubah, 30 and Mohammed S. Kabba, 38, with aggravated assault and felonious restraint for allegedly inflicting bodily injuries on one Emmanuel Freeman in the Gaye Town, Old Road community.

"The six suspects were arrested on June 5, 2019, upon a distress call from Mr. Freeman, who Police respondents met him lying naked under a market table opposite suspect Kolubah's house, handcuffed with wounds on his head and bruises on his body. The victim, who was allegedly tortured and flogged by Kolubah's personal body guards, was met in a bleeding condition, but was immediately rushed to the John F. Kennedy Hospital for treatment as suspect Kolubah's private security guards were seen in an active aggression mode," the statement claimed.

Carter said police preliminary investigation established that a group of men riding aboard a white Nissan pick-up, owned by suspect Yekeh Kolubah, were seen distributing leaflets and T-Shirts relative to the planned June 7 "Save the State" protest.

He added, "It was further established that Mr. Freeman was threatened by the suspects for refusing to receive said T-Shirts, and leaflets on grounds that the financiers of the T-Shirts must be part of the protest along with their entire families, something which triggered them coming after him at a cane juice shop. The shop is reported owned by a lady only identified as Naomi."

Carter said with the investigative findings, coupled with pieces of evidence produced during police probe, the LNP has charged the suspects with the crimes of terroristic threat, criminal facilitation, aggravated assault and felonious restraint, and henceforth, have forwarded them to court for trial.

Terroristic threat and Criminal facilitation are in violation of Chapter 14 and 10, section 14.24 and section 10.2., While aggravated assault and felonious restraint are in violation of chapter 14 sub chapter 'B' section 14.20 and sub chapter 'C' section 14.51 of the revised penal code of the Liberia.

Additionally, the authorities at the LNP said they have also investigated, charged and sent to court suspects Lawrence Mulbah, 30, John McCritty, 44, Bola Kolubah, 40, Willie Nyuman Bombo, 30, for aggravated assault, rioting, failure to disperse from the main street on Capitol Hill, disorderly conduct and obstructing highway and Public passages.

Others charged and forwarded to court are Layto Yealue, 28, Bioma Bojah, 30, Jeremiah E. P. Davis, 30, Alphonso Chea, 24, Rebecca Zelee, 32, Saah Eric Tamba, 38, Adolphus Z. Johnson, 18, Levi Blackie, 38, Prince Sirleaf, 18, and Williamka Bamgai, 30.

"They were seen on the main street between the Police Headquarters and the UL Capitol Hill Campus singing battle cry slogans in solidarity of Rep. Kolubah, who the LNP had invited for questioning on charges of flogging Emmanuel Freeman, and threatening the peace by terroristic utterances," Carter said.

He said that the suspects, while on the street, prevented vehicles and pedestrians' free movement as provided for in Article 13 of the Constitution.

"The Police, while performing their statutory duty, came across the throwing of stones from the UL students and supporters of Kolubah, and the situation caused chaos, disturbed peaceful citizens' movement due to the road blocks the accused had erected," Carter said in the statement.

He said that four LNP officers assigned at the Police Support Unit (PSU), sustained serious bodily injuries and among them, one of the officers' tooth was broken and removed.

"Due to the severity of the officers' wounds, they were rushed to hospital for treatment," Carter explained further in his statement.

Meanwhile, he said during the preliminary investigation, the suspects denied all allegations levied against them and told investigators that they boarded two pick-up vehicles (white and black), which took them from Old Road to the Police Headquarters.

When contacted via mobile phone, Carter told the Daily Observer that the suspects will remain behind bars at the Monrovia Central Prison until the court can get ready to look into their case(s), while Rep. Kolubah, will appear in court to also exonerate himself of the charges levied against him.

It can be recalled also that the release of the 20 suspects was a demand the Council of Patriots (CoP) placed on the table as a last-minute pre-requisite to presenting their petition to the government.

Unfortunately, government did not release the suspects, who by then, were still in police custody at the LNP headquarters on grounds that they had to be judiciously processed, and forwarded to court based on the need established from pieces of evidence as concerned the charges levied against them.

CoP did not present their petition to government, because of the LNP's refusal to release the suspects, but promised to hold a press conference on Sunday, June 9, 2019, to tell the public their next plan of action.

GoL disappointed with CoP

In a related development, the government said it frowned on the unwillingness of the CoP to present its petition after requesting the government to appear and receive it.

"It can be recalled that this is the second time the CoP has refused to present the same petition to the government. On May 14 2019, Unification Day, the CoP declined to present its petition at a meeting brokered by international partners with President George Weah, and promised that it would have been done on June 7," a statement signed by Information Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe said.

"A high powered delegation comprising the Dean of the Cabinet, Gbehzohngar Findley, Justice Minister Musa Dean, the Minister of State Without Porfolio Trokon Kpui, the Security and Legal Advisor, Jefferson Karmoh, who were all designated by the President, went to meet the CoP at the Capitol Building venue of the assembly at 3:15 p.m., and remained there until 5:30 p.m. After more than two hours of delay, the CoP demanded the release of individuals, who were arrested for assaulting a police officer as a precondition for the presentation of their petition. The government regards this demand as an attempt to undermine the rule of law," Minister Nagbe said.

In a Facebook live post by Abraham Darius Dillon the CoP had decided that since the ministers were not elected officials, they would not present their petitions to them.

"You don't present petitions to appointed officials, most of who are some of the reasons why we are her today," Dillon said. "And so we decided that we would not present the petition to the Minister, but we would rather, since the Minister of Justice -- who is responsible for law and order -- was present, we decided that we make a request of him to release the students that they had jailed for over 48 hours, against the Constitution, as result of their political arrest of Rep. Yekeh Kolubah. And the Minister said that they were going to the police station to see what they would do. And they didn't return."

According to the statement from the Information Minister, the accused have been charged and awaiting appearance in court represented by their lawyer. "The government reiterates its commitment to the precepts and tenets of democracy, and will continue to ensure that all citizens are protected under the law. The government also commends the police and other members of the security apparatus for their professionalism during Friday's activities by the CoP. The government is also grateful to members of the international community, including ECOWAS, the UN and the AU for their efforts in promoting peace and security in Liberia," the statement concluded.

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