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The Peace is Keeping Us In Liberia

by newsmanager

Nyekeh Y. Forkpa

It has been a couple of days since the tugs wearing CDC berets disrupted the church service at Senator Prince Johnson’s church on Sunday and this government is eerily silent on the matter. The disruption was still in progress when the police arrived and reportedly took a position distant from where the action was taking place as if to say, do your thing before we get involved. The president and his security apparatuses, especially the police are not keeping the peace – the peace is keeping us.

The folks who disrupted Prince Johnson’s church service were brazen and exercised no fear. Their photographs are everywhere, and some have been identified. However, besides the tepid denial from the wife of the former NPFL leader, Charles Taylor –a name she proudly still bears despite her reported divorce from the imprisoned Taylor, there has been no interest in apprehending these misfits. What message does the government send each time it appears to acquiesce to these breakdowns in law and order – that it is incapable, incompetent, disinterested, and supports lawlessness as long as it is done to its adversaries?

No public condemnation from the usually silent, seemingly comatose, and woolgathering president or any attempt to arrest these gangsters and everyone is going about their chores as if all is well. That is why the police are not now trusted and have been labeled as partisan police. What else would explain the police’s inability to effect an arrest when the rights of citizens were being violated in plain view – or even do so after when the perpetrators are known? What caused the police to stop short of intervening in the heat of the moment as it stood by while peaceful worshippers were terrorized? And you expect anyone to have any faith in their presence on any other occasion?

All is not well. Too many people have been hurt and are being hurt and they have nowhere to turn for redress – not even to the police. This government has failed to conclude investigations into several unanswered killings and other barbaric acts, sometimes rightly or wrongly attributed to city mayor Korjee and other government officials as “agents of mayhem.” This incident at Prince Johnson’s church is yet another in a long line of misbehavior by regime collaborators and agitators and yet, the President remains silent as usual, caring less about his citizens.

All is not well. The peace we enjoy is uneasy, principally because non-state actors have chosen to wait it out until the regime leaves power. That is not a good place for our country to be. A place where the citizens neither trust the government nor the security apparatuses. The option, in that case, is to retort to self-help — the exact thing law enforcement and the judiciary are meant to guide against. The president is even on record for urging everyone to buy CCTV to protect themselves – as if to give up on his cardinal responsibility – keeping the peace. So, in essence, the peace is keeping us, we are not keeping the peace. That means on any given day when an individual or segments of the population decide it has had enough of this state-sponsored carelessness, the peace that keeps us will be no more … and anarchy reign. I can only pray that when Prince Johnson gets prepared for any “feteyaa” on Sunday, as he has said he would be, those hoodlums will not dare step there so our peace is not disturbed. This is wrong, reprehensive, and irresponsible. A government should be better than this. We can’t all be our own police because that would militarize the state, though the president and his government seem to be compelling us to do so but we must continue to resist their temptation.

Many people are caring less because it happened to Prince Johnson. I am not caring less like many. Prince Johnson, unless otherwise established through an impartial tribunal, has all his rights including the right to freely associate and express his thoughts and feelings as he so chooses. Until he is indicted and tried, everything else is what it has been. Only the courts can determine who a criminal is and nobody else. So, I stand with Prince Johnson and the many worshipers simply because they are Liberians whose rights should be protected and respected.

Besides, those who sent the NPP/CDC tugs to Prince Johnson’s church could not have done so because they wanted a war crime court in Liberia. Prince Johnson has no power of any sort to stop this government or the ones before from establishing a war crime court to try his likes. This demonstration should have been at the doorstep of the President. So, the motive was clearly something else. Thank goodness Prince Johnson and his congregants handled the situation safely and maturely. Anything was possible if they had responded to the unwarranted provocation in equal measure.

People need to stop acting stupid, careless, and irresponsible with our peace and the rights of other Liberians who are not government actors and sympathizers. This is our home too and we deserve to live here in peace. Stop the madness. There is little or no trust in the state security apparatuses already because, amongst other things, previously demobilized killers have been reintegrated, armed, and given a license to return to their trade in blood. Many have complained about the danger of the government incorporating former killers into the security, but the government has cared less.
We should remember that governments come and go and state actors change. Those violating the laws and abusing other people’s rights often soon require the protection of the law when they find themselves on the other side and no longer wield the coercive power of the state or some part of it. Just how this reality is lost on those who misbehave because they hold temporary power escapes my understanding.

I called on President Weah and his government to wise up and begin to keep the peace, assuming they are even interested. If anything goes south here, the President will bear the lion’s share of the blame and may even face unexpected consequences. Mr. President must not wait until people have to say, as they often do, “We told him to do the right things, but he wouldn’t listen”. Mr. President this time is coming soon as you stare in the abyss. I am told It gets very lonely when you are out of power and no longer needed by your enablers. Take control and keep the peace so the peace can not continue to keep us.

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