MONROVIA, Montserrado – Early Tuesday, protesters gathered before the offices of the GT Bank on 13th Street in Sinkor to demand justice for Edward Freeman, a staff of the bank who was allegedly assaulted by the bank’s managing director, Ayodeji Bejide, last August.
Bejide, a Nigerian, had allegedly thrown a calculator at Freeman’s face during a meeting, resulting in a serious injury on Freeman’s lip.
The situation led to the immediate suspension of Bejide by the board of the Central Bank of Liberia pending investigation.
He was charged by the Liberia National Police for aggravated assault and forwarded to the Monrovia City Court for prosecution. Two days after the incident, the court issued a writ on the request of government lawyers preventing Bejide from traveling out of the country.
The writ was reportedly revoked by the court one month later on grounds that the purpose for which it was issued no longer existed. The presiding magistrate, George Peabody, then granted the defendant the go-ahead to travel on sick leave. He has since not returned, and the case has also not resumed.
Peabody has confirmed that the defendant filed a valid criminal appearance bond of US$50,000 through the Insurance Company of Africa.
The spokesperson for the protesters, Ama Naiva, accused the bank of manipulating the trial while Freeman, the injured worker, lived in trauma. Naiva described the situation as an injustice.
“This situation is highly associated with trauma. When the man is passing in the community, people call him the calculator man. It brings trauma to the man and his family,” he said.
“We will not sit and allow GT Bank to perpetrate injustice against a Liberian and nothing seems to be happening.”
Naiva noted that the action of the bank official indicates that he is in the wrong. According to him, the injury sustained by the victim also justifies the allegation against the accused.
“The evidence is clear, but up to current, we don’t know if he has recovered, but he lost so [much] blood during the incident,” he said.
Naiva said GT Bank was not paying attention to the group’s protest; however, he said they continue their action until Freeman received justice.
Eunice Massaquoi, a 63-year-old woman who was seen among the protesters, called for the bank to provide financial restitution: “I want for GT bank to pay his benefit.”
She said although the matter was currently in court, the way it is proceeding does not assure her that there will be justice.
She said some customers of the bank were planning to close their accounts with the bank in solidarity with the assault victim.
“Lots of cases like this guy case are in court, but nothing has been done to ensure justice is served,” she added, calling the country’s justice system “rotten.”
Security at the GT Bank denied The Bush Chicken reporter access to authorities for comment.
Featured photo by Ida Reeves