Monrovia, which is both the political and economic capital of Liberia, has terribly descended into lawlessness and chaos, some say bloodbath, as hoodlums and mobsters continue to have a jamboree on the unarmed residents, hacking, maiming, and even killing. In the last two months alone, dozens of crimes that were committed, some to gruesome proportion, have been reported by law enforcement agencies, civil society and media entities monitoring the state of security. It seems no part of the city is immune to the raging insecurity prevailing. What is shocking and paralyzing is that the reigning government, is seemingly doing little or nothing to curb the situation. And there are lashes, powerful censures, from the public calling on the George Manneh Weah government to boggle up quickly and effectively in order to stop the waves of killing, stealing and horror stories in and around the nation’s capital. The Analyst reports.
Satta Z. Mulbah, 28, a small shop owner in Zubah Town, Monrovia, stands bewildered, painstakingly sorting out what is left for her on the shelves. One hand scrapped behind back, she uses the other plowing into a cartoon on the floor before her. She grubs about in the huge box filled with what appear to be crumbs of lacerated papers here and there, a box that was 24 hours ago full of a dozen parks of biscuits, candies and other merchandises. She turns to the shelves on her left, then she looks at the one on the right. Unable to utter what her moving lips intends to utter, she just looks about at the ceilings above her and tears roll down on her cheeks.
“How do I start all over again? How do I begin life again?” Satta managed so suppress the sorrow visible all over her to talk to reporters. “Oh God, how do I start? This shop was my husband, my father and my mother. Since the last nearly nine years, everything I possess, including support of two children, came from here.”
She is not the only victim of armed robbers who had visited this community and other communities in Monrovia and its environments in the last couple of months. Perhaps the only difference with Satta’s situation is that the robbers comprehensively swept her shop of nearly every item that was on display on the shelves. While one of the robbers was holding her and other occupants at gun point, and another outside the three-room-one-shop home scaring away potential interveners, two were taking their time collecting all and everything on sight. And when they left at 3:45am, her shop was in effect swept down to the core—leaving her practically bare.
Satta Z. Mulbah is not only cruel victim of robbers in the last two months or so. Dozens of others in every part of the city of Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado County and the rest of the country are currently nursing the wounds of varying magnitudes of criminality.
Fortunately, some, like Satta, are alive to tell their stories. Others couldn’t do so. Florence Massaquoi of the 72nd Community in Paynesville could not tell her own story. She was found first unconscious and later pronounced dead. Another citizen, resident of Zayzay Community, died a painful death when he was allegedly mobbed by unknown people.
In a graduation celebration frenzy, eight other Liberians were found dead, and there are reports they died from carbon monoxide from a generator.
Months earlier, serial killings of junior managers of public entities, mainly auditors took place, raising uproars and more fear amongst citizens. From all indications, the nation’s capital where bu
lk of its security operatives is concentrated, let alone the countryside, is submerged in fears of insecurity due to the rampancy of violent, deadly crimes everywhere.
In most communities, citizens have begun to observe self-imposed curfews, staying out of the streets as early as 8:00pm to avoid being attacked, robbed or even killed.
From one home to another, and from one community to another, victims of armed robberies in particular litter about with no help whatsoever in sight.
Organized robberies have targeted homes, business centers and community squares with guns and machetes, terrorizing peaceful citizens and rendering the country ungovernable and fearsome.
Security experts say the criminals are taking advantage of laxity on the part of state security operatives who have apparently withdrawn their support and recoiled to their safety homes at home or their barracks.
Reporting on the level of crimes in the country, an online security czar, NUMBEO.COM, says Liberia’s crime index is 82.27 while safety index is 17.73.
According to the group, crime in the past three years is 85.21(Very High); fears and worries that home will be broken into and things stolen, is 79.77 (High); worries being mobbed or robbed is 84.12 (Very High); worries car will be stolen is 77.72 (High); worries of being attacked is 76.51 and worries being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender or religion is 65.91 (High).
Various embassies and international organizations continue to raise red alerts for their citizens living in or about to visit Liberia. They have variously warned against petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, which they reported occur in high-density public areas, particularly in markets.
They also alert their citizens on more serious crimes, such as armed robberies, armed assaults and vehicle thefts, which they said often primarily target locals.
According to them, foreigners have been victims of violent crimes, including aggravated sexual assault and murder. Crime significantly increases during the night due to the lack of electricity in many parts of the capital.
Armed home break-ins are also common, particularly in the capital and surrounding cities, according to the diplomats.
Citizens Call for Action
“What we do have currently in this country is complete Sodom and Gomorrah at its worst,” said a Pipe Line Community member. “Citizens are not at peace at all. Why drug addicts roam communities and homes, jerking homes and hacking people and taking away valuable properties, law enforcement is at a bare minimum if not nonexistent. We are in hell in this country.”
Other citizens who spoke to The Analyst were unanimous in their view that Government has been doing little or nothing to curb growing instability, particularly wonton unexplained deaths of citizens.
Peter Giddings, Jr., a school teacher said: “The foremost fundamental responsibility of a government is to protect life and property. All other things are secondary to this responsibility, because it requires the safety and security of the citizenry without which the Constitution empowers the people to change or alter the sitting government. It is therefore totally incomprehensible that the current political administration continues to ignore the people’s cries for security and safety.”
For C. Nelson Kuayateh, a student reading Sociology at the University of Liberia, the George Weah government must be sufficiently pressured to step in and save the beleaguered people of Liberia from indiscriminate killings, mysterious deaths and rampant insecurity that have engulfed the nation.
Kuayateh stressed in an interview with The Analyst: “If there will be any protest or demonstration soon in this country it got to be a protest on insecurity and mayhem seething ferociously everywhere in Liberia. All other protests in the past have been purely political. The safety of Liberians is cardinal, apolitically relevant and morally demanding. This we cannot afford to compromise.”
He added: “Let it be made clearer: the necessity for security and safety in this country is not just about ordinary citizens. It is also about VIPs and officials of Government. In our cries for foreign capital investment, the current dastardly crime environment is an antithesis; it is a great enemy because no sound investors can brave the storm to invest in a physically insecure nation. More besides, the right to life and right to peaceful existence is critical. It should not be compromised.”
GoL to Step In
Amid the waves of criminal activities across the country, the Government has plans to increase security presence to every nook and corner.
According to a government source who does not want to be named in print, plan is in the making for the government to order the joint security of the country to reassign its security tactics and plan to quell ripples of insecurity and crimes.
“The president and this government are not sleeping on the demands of the citizens for increased security guidance and the protection of life and property,” the source told The Analyst. “In the first place, Government is the first beneficiary of national security and stability. More so, this government needs to realize that its accelerated development agenda cannot be successful when the country and the people are not secured; when the people are not happy because of insecurity.”
He said further: “There are challenges, but despite the challenges, we are working to surmount all odds and make Liberia stable and peaceful, and to make our citizens happy. Since 1980 when ECOMOG was employed and to 2017 when UNMIL departed, the George Weah administration is the first government in 37 years that has taken up the vast and critical responsibility of full national security. But, as I said again, we are not sleeping, and things will fall in line soon.”