By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
A former Finance Minister of Liberia, Mr. Milton Nathaniel Barnes, has joined many others calling for citizens’ action against the continued mysterious deaths in the country and to put an end to the heinous and serious crimes going on in the country.
Mr. Barnes, in his write up on his official Facebook page yesterday November 8, 2021 noted that the first step is to publicly condemn these atrocious acts and then demand that the justice system fully and completely investigates each unexplained death, and added that the Culprits must be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.
In times of trouble, Mr. Barnes said when good people sit aside supinely and do nothing, they are no better than the perpetrators of evil. He noted that there is an adage that says, “We give acquiescence by our silence.”
Touching names of some victims of murders, the former NASSCORP Director General listed, Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert III (November 1, 2021), Maude Elliot (October 31, 2021), John H. Tubman (September 22, 2021), unidentified Woman on 17th Street Beach (September 14, 2021), Matthew J. Innis (August 2021), Mordecai Nyemah (May 2021), and Melvin Earley (February 19, 2021).
Other victims of murders, he said, include Florence Massaquoi (February 2021), Robert M. Blamo, Jr. (2021), Bobby S. Gbeanquoi (2021), Siafa G. Boimah (2021), Albert Peters (October 2020), Gifty Lama (October 2020), Elijah Polumah (2020), Abraham Tumay (2020), and George B. Fanbutu (2020) amongst others unknown.
“What’s going on, my people? In every instance above, innocent lives have been taken; and, we are not sure what is being done about it. Liberians are dying mysteriously or being brutally murdered. Murderers are getting away with impunity. The usual lip service is paid; the family grieves; and, we carry on our lives disillusioned and frightened”, he wondered.
Dr. Barnes, who also served as Liberia’s Ambassador & Permanent Representative to the United Nations, expounded that what is exasperating about the gruesome killings is that Liberians are fearing for their lives in the midst of dire poverty and economic straits.
“They barely eke out a living encountering the huge cost of feeding themselves, educating their children, paying their rent, transporting themselves, only to be faced with the threat of someone murdering them in cold blood”, he said.
“Why are Liberians continuing to face these nearly insurmountable challenges simply stated, this is due to the absence of Law and Order, which should, at the very least, be investigated and the public informed so as to reassure them that authorities are responding with urgency. In this particular environment, when criminals believe that they can get away with heinous acts including brutal murders, they take that as a “license to kill” in view of the fact that there appear to be no consequences”, he continued.
In his opinion, Mr. Barnes said the situation comes down to the matter of leadership, and explained that for quite a while now, Liberia has been led by politicians as opposed to authentic leaders.
Basically, he said that there is a distinct difference between a leader and a politician, adding that an authentic and effective leader will address numerous challenges, be they economic (fiscal-monetary management, unemployment, etc.) or social (justice, education, healthcare etc.), using a wide array of tools. “A leader knows how to corral the appropriate experts who can provide effective solutions to whatever challenges may arise within his or her sphere of influence,” he added
A politician, on the other hand, he stated, possesses a singular tool that is used to address any and every issue: politics. Continuing from the politician’s perspective, Barnes highlighted that every problem, regardless of its nature, requires the solution of political rhetoric, which he said politician says whatever he or she believes will assuage the people. He asserted that the goal of a politician is to persuade the people that things will be fine. Saying so, as we all know, does not make things so. Yet, the only tool of the politician is politics (i.e. the power of persuasion).
Further laying his thoughts, Barnes said, in the face of murders with impunity, leaders, at all levels of society, cannot afford to sit aside with indifference. “We must stand up against these outrageous acts.
We know that God is the ultimate judge; yet, every true religion teaches us that there are laws by which we must govern ourselves. In Liberia, our entire social fabric is at risk of disintegrating. No society, without a modicum of justice in the face of serious crime, can continue to function. It will inevitably tumble into utter chaos”, he added.
He continued “In view of what is unfolding, I am poised to ask the following questions: Can we, as a country and people, take decisive steps to address these concerns? Can we source international support to investigate these deaths, many of which seem mysterious; if, and only if, we lack the resources and technical ability to do so? Can the public be kept abreast as to the progress the Government is making in investigating these deaths? Can we also endeavor to investigate the drivers of these mysterious killings?”
“Lest we forget, regardless of the circumstances of these deaths, whether politically motivated and or based on hatred, they do have ripple effects that transcend the actual victims. We may have to deal with how family members are affected and what interpretation others connected to the victims may conceive. Remember, the fruit of peace and freedom is priceless, and living in the spirit of fear breeds distress”, he said.