Since December 1, 2023, the death of a supporter of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Joshua Gbah has become a major topic of discussion across various social media platforms.
These posts, which are seen here, here, and here, among other pages, accused Unity Party’s supporter Queen Johnson of beating Joshua during violent campaign clashes on Thursday, August 10, 2023, leaving four people severely wounded, according to The New Dawn newspaper.
The violent clashes began as now-president-elect Joseph Nyumah Boakai was en route to name a new batch of members at his campaign headquarters.
The former vice president had to cancel his activities as he left the scene.
“In the process, CDC supporters allegedly attacked several UP supporters who were heading to their ‘Rescue Mission” campaign headquarters in the Old Immigration building in Montserrado County Electoral District #9. The CDC supporters who staged the attack were said to have gathered at the Varmoma House on the main Tubman Boulevard to welcome President George Manneh Weah and his entourage in Montserrado Electoral District #9,” The New Dawn added.
Many of those posts seek justice for Joshua, a model trainer who represented Liberia in the Mr Africa 2021-2022 competition, because he died from internal bleeding caused by the August election violence; however, The Stage Media (TSM) has yet to independently verify such a claim because such a claim has not been supported by a medical report from the government.
According to the blog, the CDC Youth Wing sets January 22, 2024, as their peaceful assembly day in demand of justice for innocent CDCians who were killed in the just-ended elections.
As the sitting government, one expects the Ruling CDC to take action towards giving Joshua justice since he is a Liberian and deserves protection and justice from the state regardless of his political link.
In this light, TSM is documenting some of the mysterious deaths under the administration of George M. Weah-led government that were not concluded through the justice system.
In May 2019, the helpless body of Odell Sherman, a 21-year-old high school student of the Harriet Bailey United Methodist School, was discovered in an unfinished building owned by Rev. Emmanuel Giddings, a cousin of Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, in Duazon, Margibi County.
During the case, the ELWA hospital, where Odell was pronounced dead on arrival, provided conflicting reports that led to her death. This resulted in the United Methodist Church, where Giddings was serving as a senior elder, then the Human Rights arm requested that the health facility be investigated.
The first death certificate mentioned bleeding from the ear, which, according to the certificate, suggests that she died as a result of sexual abuse.
Throughout the investigation, there were no arrests, even though she was discovered in the home of Giddings, but the family was declared “persons of interest.”
The government brought in an international pathologist who arrived in the country unknown to the Sharman family, named Dr. Roger Mitchell, to conduct an autopsy. Mitchell concluded that the autopsy could only establish the cause of death; however, to verify whether Odell was sexually abused, there must be a DNA test conducted.
In the absence of DNA, the government, through the Liberia National Police (LNP), declared on October 15, 2019, that the case was closed and there was no “Foul Play.”
While Odell’s case was ongoing, Yatta Kamara, who had gone to visit her unidentified male partner at Palm Spring Resort, was discovered dead.
The deceased was found unconscious with foam and blood oozing from her mouth and nose at the resort and was later pronounced dead upon arrival at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital on June 5, 2019.
The government conducted an autopsy on the remains of Yatta; even though her family did not accept the outcome, the case was closed without conducting a DNA test or further investigation.
The three missing persons included Robert Blamo, 29, Siafa Boimah, 33, and the other only identified as Blama, who allegedly went missing after “completing a job” for the proprietor of the funeral parlor, Ahoussouhe on his gold mine in the Bong Mines.
There were a series of protests, like Odell Sherman’s case, seeking justice, but there was no arrest.
The families petitioned the 54th Legislature to probe the whereabouts of their missing relatives. The plenary of the Senate summoned the Ministry of Justice and the national security apparatus over three males who went missing.
Despite many protests and the senate intervention, the government through the Ministry of Justice failed to provide an update or release the outcome of an investigative report on circumstances that led to the mysterious disappearance of three young men, hereby making the family call the attention of the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia for help.
The auditor’s death
In October 2020, the mysterious deaths of four auditors instilled fear in citizens across the country, including President George M. Weah, who called on citizens to be their own security by installing CCTV in their various homes.
Weah during the signing of the book of condolence of Internal Audit Agency (IAA) Director-General, Emmanuel B. Nyeswa, told journalists that going forward, “Liberians should be their brothers’ keepers and keep their own security. You know, I was just sitting and told the protocol… why sitting I see everyone coming into the building on video camera, why not, every government official and citizen tries to have a video camera in their facility to see who comes in and out, I think that is good security.”
Those auditors who died included Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa, director general of the Liberia Internal Audit Agency; Albert Peters; Gifty Lama; and George F. Fanbutu, all employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority.
According to reports, all four of the auditors were concluding audit reports of the government’s accounts over the allegations of misappropriation of COVID-19 funds.
The pair were found dead in a vehicle on Snapper Hill Broad Street. Lama was the Acting Manager for Tax Services while Peters was the Assistant Commissioner for Audit.
The government conducted an “autopsy” that resulted in mixed reactions from Liberians.
Those autopsies were conducted and the findings concluded by Dr. Benedict B. Kolee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kpadeh, who are employees of the Ministry of Health and the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital respectively.
The autopsy report released by the government indicated that Nyeswa died of massive haemorrhage; multiple bony and soft tissue injuries and blunt injuries consistent with falls from height.
The pathologist recommended that Nyeswa’s death would require further police detective investigation to determine if his death was accidental, homicide, or suicide, while for Fahnbutu, the pathologist concluded that he sustained injuries to his head, chest, and abdomen. The cause of his death has been attributed to right frontal cerebral contusion and disruption of the brain, with haemorrhages; right frontal complex depressed comminuted fracture; the vehicle in a head collision and side impact with a house; and a road traffic accident.
Even though the pathologist requested a further police detective investigation to determine if his death was accidental, homicide, or suicide, the government closed the case because they claimed that those auditors died of “natural deaths.”
The table below lists some of the unsolved deaths in the country during Weah’s administration.
The Stage Media contacted Adama Dempster, Secretary General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform, to provide his view about the CDC’s decision to wait until January 2024 to protest the death of Joshua while they are still in authority.
Dempster said, “Justice that is politicized is not justice but an interest.”
He said the CDC’s government did not come to power as a political institution but as an advocate against bad governance, social justice, the establishment of war and economic crimes courts, inclusion, better health care, and better education, but when they got into power, they failed to live up to their promises, something he described as very unfortunate and bringing their sincerity into question.
“I will say to you, CDC lacks the moral administrative and leadership ability to fulfil those things they previously described as injustices and the lack of protection for the people, so going back to protest for it only shows that they have made no impact and do not have a success story,” Demsper told our reporter.
Dempster said it is under the CDC-led government the country saw the highest number of mysterious deaths of auditors, disappearance, and a whole lot of criminals’ importation of drugs.
“CDC does not stand for justice, they do not support justice, and they have not fulfilled justice.” If they did, where was justice when those auditors died mysteriously, and where was justice when people went to court and could not afford a lawyer?” he wondered.
He said access to justice, protection of human rights, empowerment, and livelihood support fall short under the CDC government.