MONROVIA-With the just-ended stampede in New Kru Town as a result of an attack by people believed to be Zogos or disadvantaged youths,  Cllr. Taiwan Gongole, former President of the Liberian National  Bar Association (LNBA) has said that the government is sleeping on duty.

That government needs to do more in terms of providing security to its citizens Speaking to this paper by phone on Sunday, January 23, 2022, said, it was a sad incident for people to die. According to him, there is the police station in New Kru Town, where the open-air crusade took place.

“With such thing taking place the police should have been around on patrol. If they were on patrol, maybe such a thing would not happen. But again, I think the police are suffering from logistics. They may not be well equipped,” he said.

He said, one of the reasons people pay taxes is for government to provide protection for its citizens.

He also said that the organizers should have had marshal around to control the crowd and also help the people.

It can be recalled that last week a stampede took place in New kru Town.

This led to the death of 29 persons, including pregnant women, children, and others.  The Crusade was organized by   More Grace International Ministries, owned by Pastor Abraham Kromah, a Muslim who converted to Christianity and has been converting some Muslims into Christianity.

Eyewitnesses at the scene told this paper that when the Crusade was over, attendees decided to leave. But to their surprise, they saw a huge group of men with cutlasses, knives, sticks in their hands moving towards them to attack and take away their personal belongings.

“We were to the place last night. After the crusade, we just heard heavy noise from outside. Some people were running to come inside the fence because they said they saw Zogos with cutlasses and knives coming towards them. So, many of the people ran inside,” Samuel Wleh, a resident of the place said.

The stampede took place at the D-Tweh Memorial High School in New Kru Town, a densely populated area.

Zogos are people who abandoned their homes and live on the streets. They also engage in drugs and criminal activities as well.

Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Information Minister Jalawah Tonpo told state radio, LBS-Liberia Broadcasting System that the number of persons confirmed to have died was 29. The bodies were taken to The Redemption Hospital. Minister Tonpo did not give details at the time.

Another eyewitness, Exodus Morias, a resident who attended the crusade, told this paper the stampede began after a group of armed men rushed to the crowd in an attempt to stage a robbery.

“We saw a group of men with cutlasses and other weapons coming toward the crowd,” Morias said. “While running, some people dropped and others fell on the ground and walked over them.”

Bands of Liberian street gangs known as Zogos commonly commit robberies with machetes and other small weapons.

Some residents in the area have blamed the death of Zogos and also the inability of the security to provide protection.

“I will put this on the part of the Zogos. The government needs to take the responsibility for this death. It is the government’s right to protect its citizens. We are vulnerable in this country,” Teresa Marsh, a resident of   Benson Street said, and later expressed regret.

But the information Minister Ledgehood Rennie   debunked it;

‘To allow people get their freedom to congregate and assemble,    Just the other day we teargas people at the capital,  one major opposition leader says that it was people’s right to assemble. what is happening now is the same people’s right to assemble on that football field that caused the deaths.  You should blame the government for that?

So if you inform the government,   about people gathering in mass numbers, does not only refer to protestation at an assembly- but so that it can be managed and organized in a way that everyone’s personal security is secured.  When you do not do that,  people start having a mass gathering on the street of Monrovia, if we move on your first,  they will be saying the government is infringing on freedom of movement and freedom of assembly; and so let us be realistic with ourselves; we live in a society where people do not want to follow the rules.

“When something happens, they want to blame the government.  Look again,  I say to you, Zogos on the streets, they are disadvantaged youths,  are not the so responsibility of government to remove them from the streets, these people come from homes,  and some of them come from well-known parents, so while it is true that government is making efforts, the president is even constructing homes for the disadvantaged youth to go there and learn a trade.  It is our collective responsibility, you get your immediate relative on the street, wayward people, and those things are happening, it will interest you to apply effort.

“Everything people blame the government, people dump dirt in their backyard, they will say,  government support to go in their backyard and clean the dirt,  to blame the government for new Kru town tragedy,  is scapegoating.   That is my official response.  To blame the Government is scapegoating. The pastor has the responsibility to ensure the protection and the wellbeing of the people, so it is not everything that government will be able to do, so people should know their responsibility for their personal responsibility.

“We as a government have every regulation in place and the citizens, themselves are not wanting in respecting those city ordinance measures.

“The President has visited the place, we will first investigate to see what actually went   wrong; when we review the public safety  measure so  that every measure  is put into place  so that there cannot be any recurrent.”

“The actions of Zogos have been causing concerns in recent times. It can be recalled that last week following the final county meet between Nimba and Gbarpolu counties, several fans were attacked at gate four at the Samuel  Doe Sports Complex in demand of cash, phone, and valuable items. The police had to move on the scene to bring it under control.”

Cllr. Gongloe who is contemplating contesting for the presidency in the 2023 election said, it was unfortunate for the incident.

“The protection of people is not being carried out effectively that is why the Zogos or disadvantaged people are taking over and getting powerful,” he said.

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