Aggrieved Liberians Seek US Govt Intervention -Over Helicopter’s Saga

Hundreds of aggrieved Liberians have requested the Government of the United States, through its embassy accredited near Monrovia, to intervene into the decision taken by the Government of Liberia (GOL), to prevent the landing of a private helicopter owned by the Political Leader of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP), Dr. Daniel E. Cassell, into the country.

The aggrieved petitioners under the banner, Liberians in Solidarity with Dr. Cassell (LSDC), gathered before the US Embassy on Benson Street in Monrovia on Monday, November 1.

They held placards with inscriptions: “We need justice in Liberia, The right to own properties in Liberia must be respected, Stop being hateful, The helicopter must land, Mr. LCAA, you are a failure to this nation, let the aircraft land, Stop witch hunting opposition politicians,” among others.

In the petition, the group claimed that the Kwenyan and Associates Group of Companies owned and operated by Dr. Cassell, a Liberian philanthropist purchased a Bell 430 helicopter with serial numbers 49075 from South Africa and pointed out that the helicopter was purchased by Dr. Cassell to primarily transport medical supplies and quickly respond to emergency issues confronting Liberians in areas with bad road conditions.

It added that Dr. Cassell’s company, through the International Flight Clearances TTY (LTD) applied to the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority and received the landing clearance number marked ELCCA/9B74C8A5/10/08/21/042/1/12192/ZTRJA.

The statement pointed out that the helicopter was about to depart Ivory Coast for Liberia, but the government, through President George Manneh Weah, allegedly instructed the LCAA to deny the aircraft entry after he (Weah) was informed that the aircraft was owned by Dr. Cassell, a Liberian philanthropist and politician.

The petitioners claimed that the alleged actions of the government to prevent the helicopter of Dr. Cassell, who is making impactful interventions in the lives of less fortunate and underprivileged Liberian citizens, is in clear violations of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights signed by stakeholders on December 10, 1948 and the 1986 Liberian constitution.

Article two of the declaration states that: “Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it is independent, trust and non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

Article 17 of the declaration notes that: “Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”.

The statement maintained that the constitutional rights of Dr. Cassell continue to be violated by the clueless Weah led-administration.

“The continuous action by this government to intimidate political opponents is undermining peace and democracy that America as a country has invested so much in bringing, nurturing, maintaining and supporting. The Liberians In Solidarity With Dr. Cassell kindly seeks the intervention of the United States government in this matter as she has always done in issues even bigger than the current aircraft issue”, the group said.

The petition was received by an official of the Embassy who promised to have it turned over to the United States Ambassador accredited to Liberia for onward presentation to the US government.

For some time now, the PLP and the government, through the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) have been in rigmarole, making claims and counterclaims over a Bell 430 helicopter belonging to Dr. Cassell.

The party claims that its Political Leader and Vision Bearer Dr. Daniel E. Cassell, through his company, Kwenyan and Associates, met all legal requirements and was given a permit by the LCAA for the helicopter to land in the country, but said permit was surreptitiously revoked for unknown reasons barely a day after it attempted landing in the country.

The party took the matter to the Supreme Court of Liberia claiming that the constitutional rights of its Political Leader are being violated.

The PLP made specific reference to Articles 11, 17 and 22 of the 1986 Liberian constitution.

Article 11(a) of the Liberian constitution states that: “all persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the right of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of pursuing and maintaining and security of the person and of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution”.

Article 17 (a) notes that “all persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good to instruct their representatives, to petition the government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations.”

Article 22 (a) states that: “Every person shall have the right to own property alone as well as in association with others; provided that only Liberian citizens shall have the right to own real property within the Republic”.

But the government has since denied the claims, citing that the issuance of a permit for an overflight and landing right of the helicopter is being reviewed.

“LCAA notes that at no time did Kwenyan & Associates Group of Company request for landing permit to the LCAA for which, they filed a writ of Prohibition. The Group application for an Air Service License is still being reviewed by the LCAA in keeping with the Liberia Civil Aviation and relevant international Regulations and is pending the fulfillment of all the requirements”, a release issued by the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) stated.

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