By Olando Testimony Zeongar
Liberian president Dr. George Weah has slammed traditionalists for using the locally known traditional “devils” to carry out a sit-in action on the Bong/Lofa Highway.
Recently, the Grandmaster of Lofa County rallied traditional leaders including zoes, traditional devils, as well as leaders of the Poro and Sande societies, to stage a roadblock on the St. Paul Bridge linking Lofa and Bong Counties.
The Lofa traditional leaders were drawn from several areas in the county including Voinjama, Kolahun, Foya, Salayea, among others, converging at the Bridge, with a lead-traditional devil seated in the middle of the St. Paul Bridge, instilling fear in travellers along the route and impeding free flow of both human and vehicular traffic.
The protesting traditionalists disclosed that their action was intended to claim the Weah-led government’s attention, for former Minister of Defense; J. Brownie Samukai, a citizen of Lofa, who is the winner of the December 2020 senatorial election of the county to be certificated by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and be seated at the House of Senate, or that the seat be declared vacant, to make way for another election that will enable Lofa to be fully represented at the Legislature.
It can be recalled, during the electoral process of the 2020 Special Senatorial Election, which Samukai won in Lofa, he was found guilty, along with two former staff of the Ministry of National Defense, for misapplying money intended for the pension scheme of soldiers of the Armed forces of Liberia.
Although Samukai and the two others convicted of economic sabotage, misuse of entrusted property, and criminal conspiracy, argued that they were ordered by former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was then Commander-In-Chief of the AFL, to use the money, the Supreme Court upheld a guilty verdict from the lower court, ordering that Samukai and the others restitute the misapplied money.
Samukai has since paid his share of the total amount to be restituted, which is US$191,276.05 or 50 percent, as required by the court, but his convicted accomplices have so far been unable to raise their portion of the 50 percent of the amount to be restituted – thus, Samukai’s certification and subsequent seating as Senator has been frozen.
But President Weah thinks even at that, the Lofa traditional leaders and the traditional devils should have observed a tenet of democracy; freedom of movement, inferring that they should have not resorted to infringing on the rights of others by obstructing their freedom of movement because Liberia is a democratic nation –
Speaking at his church, the Forky Klon Jajleh Family Fellowship Church on Sunday, 5 December 2021, President Weah, a preacher man, said although he respects traditional practices, but frowned on the traditional devils’ decision to have staged a roadblock.
“I don’t care what you believe in, God is the ultimate, President Weah emphasized, adding, “How can the people put you [traditional devils] outside, then you say you doing devil then y’all go arrest people – what is that? And y’all say your Christian nation.”
Even though President Weah intoned that even though he expects to be misinterpreted for criticizing the traditionalists, their sit-in action using traditional devils, was a wrong thing to do.
“They wake up they blocked the road and they say you can’t pass because the devil say,” President Weah said, asking, “What‘s wrong with us?”
Howbeit, the Liberian leader stated that there is no devil that can defile his administration and God, because according to him, God made the devil.
“People have their traditional practices. My traditional practice is the Bible, is to look up to God,” he said, adding, “But I respect their traditional practice – because that the way you take, [and] I take my way.”
“So if you respect your traditional practice, respect everybody’s rights – because where your rights begin, people’s rights end, and where your rights end, other people’s rights begin, said President Weah, who pointed out that Liberia is a civilized and democratic society, where everybody has got human rights.