After the elapse of his 48-hour request to reappear before the police with his lawyers and supporters in tow, the secretary general of the former ruling Unity Party – wanted by police for questioning on his troublesome Facebook post – says he returns to the police station in Monrovia Thursday morning, prepared to go to jail on trumped up charges.
“I AM READY FOR THE JAIL HOUSE. I will come prepared to spend the weekend in JAIL and even beyond,” Mo Ali, whose Unity Party is one of four opposition groupings, said in a brief Facebook post after uncovering what he called a plot to jail him.
He made his first appearance before the police Tuesday, accompanied by mainstream opposition leaders, and was questioned over the intent of his post that was published in the social media but which the police viewed as a matter of national security.
The post reads: “Dear National Elections Commission (NEC), we understand the ploy. But try it and you will see what’s gonna be the end result.”
In a subsequent post on March 4, 2021, the UP Secretary General stated that: “I don’t believe in the integrity of the Supreme Court. Most of the Justices have been corrupted. Justice Nagbe is a hardcore tribalist.”
Few days after the posts were published in the social media, two petrol bomb explosions partly shattered the home of Supreme Court judge Joseph Nagbe and the National Elections Commission. The election case of opposition senator elect Brownie Samukai, who faces legal hurdles in taking his seat after being overwhelmingly elected, continues to linger before the judge and NEC.
In another post sent to the media yesterday, Mr Ali said “The police met today along with some Justice Ministry officials. They have agreed that once we get to the station on Thursday, they will slam me with some trumped up charges and send me to court. At the court, Judge Jomah Jallah will reject whatever bond my lawyers will submit on instruction. The simple reason is to ensure that I am jailed for the weekend. That is part of the intimidation strategy. Now let me be very clear, I am not afraid of going to prison. I have committed no crime. Let the police and Sayma Syrennus Cephus (solicitor general) bring it on.”
Ali was initially invited to appear before the police on March 18 but could not show up on schedule, citing medical concerns. Police then swung into action and declared Ali a “wanted man,” fueling speculations that government was clamping down on opposition activists and free speech.
Opposition leaders then began to say that the declaration of Mo Ali as a wanted man by the police was not only designed to intimidate him but also intended to show that government was going after opposition figures for expressing their views on the Facebook.
Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), said he was concerned about the police action. “I am very concerned about the decision of the Liberia National Police to declare Mr. Mohammed (Mo) Ali, the Secretary General of the Unity Party, one of the constituent parties of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), a ‘wanted man’ for merely expressing a personal opinion on Facebook. The declaration of Mr. Ali as ‘wanted man’ barely a day after inviting him to the headquarters of the LNP – even after his legal representation explained why he would not immediately attend to the police invitation – is clearly an intimidation tactic of the government to use the LNP against opponents. This is alarming and unacceptable!.
“Instead of focusing on real crimes, the government of Liberia, using the police as its instrument, is repeatedly going after Liberian citizens for making Facebook posts. By doing so, the LNP is neglecting its constitutional duty. Instead of harassing law-abiding citizens, it should be focused on monitoring communities to keep Liberians safe, and going after the criminals who kill Liberian professionals.
“I expect the CDC government to STOP these actions and begin respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Liberian people, rather than wasting taxpayers’ money to harass and intimidate opponents. This behavior is definitely not conducive for a country struggling mightily to put behind its ugly past. We must all remember that war came to this country because some people in power thought they were above the law and started to suppress and harass others persistently. We are witnessing a return of those ugly days as Liberians are being harassed, and the police are being used as a weapon for intimidation.”
“I am deeply worried about the safety of not only Mo Ali, but those of his family members and all CPP leadership. I want to call on all Liberians to stand with Mr. Ali and ensure that his rights, and the rights of all Liberians, are respected. Liberia will not truly enjoy the fruits of democracy if citizens cannot freely express themselves and live happily doing so. Liberia Deserves Better.”
In his reactions, Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel McGill termed the re4cent bomb explosions as an act of “domestic terrorism,” calling for the arrest of those making threatening statements against national peace.
McGill said such persons should not go with impunity no matter their status in the society.
He also viewed a call by Lofa County District #1 Representative Francis Nyumali for the setting up of an interim government as a complete stupidity, saying such a call threatens the peace and stability of the country.
For former vice president Joseph Boakai, who also accompanied Mo Ali to the police station Monday, he said
“This country has degenerated into a situation that all of us are concerned about. This is why we are bringing these things to their attention to address them compellingly. If not, we will do what is right when we assume office. This is not the way we want this country to move. It is hard to advise people who hardly take advice.”
Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, the chairperson of the CPP, said, “We know he has done nothing wrong and so we are confident that the burden remains the government’s own to prove him wrong. This is a country of law and we will not sit and watch, not only our fellow partisans but any other citizen who bears undue consequences for expressing his or her view openly or on social media.”