Police Say No Information Linking Koijee to Saturday’s Electoral Violence

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Liberia National Police says it has received no information linking Monrovia’s Mayor Jefferson Koijee to electoral violence reported on Saturday in Montserrado’s 13th district.

On Saturday, Cornelia Kruah-Togba, who is running on the Unity Party ticket and supported by the Alternative National Congress and Liberty Party, reported in a live video that her campaign rally had been violently interrupted by members of the Coalition for Democratic Change, led by Koijee with several of her supporters being physically wounded.

Kruah-Togba said she was also alerted that one of her supporters had been stabbed to death but noted that she had not found out who the young lady was.

The Liberty Party political leader and Grand Bassa senator, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, was also at the rally and directly accused the mayor of being involved in the act.

There were also reports on social media that the mayor and his men were in possession of a gun and cutlasses. Eyewitnesses said the mayor was seen walking with some individuals who were dressed up in military-like outfits and holding cutlasses. Some also said they heard two gunshots during the violence on Saturday.

However, police spokesman Moses Carter told The Bush Chicken that the claims that Koijee was involved in the violence are a “mere allegations.” The police had also earlier denied reports that any death occurred as a result of Saturday’s violence. Carter challenged those making the accusations to produce information that proved that the mayor was involved.

Spokesman of the Liberia National Police, Moses Carter. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

He said four individuals were wounded, including a female supporter of the Unity Party’s candidate and three male supporters of the candidate contesting on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change, John Weah.

The police spokesman also said there has not been a determination of which weapons were used that caused the injuries to the four individuals. He said the police did not also establish who was responsible for the violence.

Kruah-Togba refuted Carter’s statements, adding that several of her supporters were wounded.  She said some of the victims were reportedly refused by local clinics due to lack of space, and her team was still searching for more victims to provide them with assistance.

“The police [are] biased. It’s their government, so, I don’t expect anything less,” she said, noting that a police pickup had helped to take several wounded people to medical facilities.

She told The Bush Chicken that she personally saw Koijee, along with men dressed in black with red berets, participate in the violence. She said her team has identified more than 20 victims at local clinics and paid for their medical bills. She also maintained her earlier statement that a female supporter was reportedly stabbed to death and that her team is working to identify the hospital she was taken to, while also trying to trace her identity and family.

According to Kruah-Togba, the driver of the pickup the victim rode on prior to the violence suggested that the victim is probably not a resident of the Barnesville community.

Meanwhile, she said one of her team members received a call about a man’s sister being stabbed. The team is working to locate the probable relative of the victim.

Kruah-Togba also said the violent incident led to damage of properties, including a church, her campaign billboard, the truck she was using for the political rally, as well as public address system and the windshield of a taxi that was also completely broken by the CDC partisans. Pictures of the damage to properties were posted on Facebook.

At the same time, she accused the police of firing tear gas at her supporters and damaging the windows of her home and firing tear gas that suffocated her home nurse and a little kid who was indoors.

The head of Unity Party’s Mobilization Committee in Montserrado’s 13th district, Alexander Harris, confirmed that police officers on board a pickup marked GSA-LNP 22 with license plate number RL-141 fired tear gas at their supporters and into the home of Kruah-Togba.

According to Harris, another police pickup marked RL-121 transported several injured supporters to unknown destinations. He said a man identified as ‘Widell’ or 192 was the commander on board the pickup that took away the wounded supporters.

He also disclosed that the Unity Party’s candidate and her team have paid a bill of L$10,200 (US$67) with a balance of L$2,295 (US$15) for six of her supporters who were injured in the violence. He said another guy stabbed in the neck is also admitted at Kamara’s Clinic in Iron Factory.

When asked, the police spokesman, Carter, said he could not confirm the claims of officers firing tear gas but noted that tear gas was not fired to harm anyone, but rather to dislodge people during violent incidents.

Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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