The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

The 2 Most Memorable Events Of 2020

When the year is about to close, there is a tendency that people look back reflecting on things that occurred during the course of the year under review; most especially things that were unprecedented.
It is a tradition that each year, our editorial team recaps events that are most memorable judging from either its uniqueness or trending nature and this year, for our most memorable events, the paper brings to full glare two major events that are indeed haunting and somewhat unique to our Liberian culture.
As we all can recall, Archie Ponpon, an advocate, set himself ablaze sometime in October thereby introducing the word ‘immolation’ into the Liberian society, which made many persons to measure this act of his advocacy to a life-threatening level.
The paper also thought to review the work of the new Board of Commissioners who in spite of the challenges, embraced its maiden task of conducting three national events at a strike of one blow and was able to land the country that is still nursing its democracy safely back on its trajectory of peace.
As we stated earlier, the act of pouring gasoline on oneself aimed at melting away in the public glare in the name of advocacy is still something one could never have dreamt of in any form of whatever situation for which they would want to advocate.
And it was for this reason that the Inquirer Newspaper’s Managing Editor, Philip N. Wesseh, featured an article entitled ‘A Media Classroom On The Archie Ponpon’s immolation’ in which he stated that interestingly, there have been no case in all his nearly 40 years of practice in mainstream journalism, neither in the history of this county, had he witnessed or heard of a Liberian or any other person in this country engaged in a suicidal act by setting himself or herself ablaze, something that is known as “Immolation.”
The workers had been protesting for some 12-month salary arrears for months and were assembling daily on the grounds of the Temple of Justice but the result of the meeting left the aggrieved employees to believe that it was rhetorical and sheer charade.
He therefore vowed not to serve as liaison between his boss and his colleagues because he was being scapegoated and then joined the protesting employees taking up placards with different inscriptions, key among them was a prayer to God to help them as they continued their protest chanting, “We will not work.”
Archie then announced that with Chief Justice Korkpor’s action, the burden was now his as their bosses were being defiant in giving the employees their just benefits.
“Don’t blame me; blame yourself for creating the problem. The people are rising up their placards. Because people can’t ask for bread and you give them serpent; they will chop the head. The response from the Chief Justice is not what the people wanted to hear today and that was a sign of defiance as if he did not know the problem about the salary cut that has grieved the employees,” Ponpon told the media.
Prior to Archie’s action on the grounds of the Temple of Justice, he had posted on his Facebook page that he would have immolated himself on claims that the Chief Justice made persistent threats to harm him for his stance in the protest.
Archie, being the lead advocate along with other protesters were sent to the Ministry of Justice for full-scale investigation for allegedly accusing the Chief Justice of sending people to kill him at his home.
Following the series of protests which at one point coincided with the opening of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Korkpor issued a warning restricting all forms of protest on the grounds of the Temple of Justice, but Archie and the group of aggrieved workers reportedly defied said order.
Archie was then issued a writ of arrest seemingly for protesting after the Chief Justice’s mandate but immediately after the writ was served, he moved roughly about four steps away from sheriffs and immediately poured the gas he carried in a bottle in his coat all over himself and set himself ablaze.
He alleged that he took the action to kill himself to satisfy Chief Justice Korkpor who he alleged was the mastermind behind some unknown persons tailing him every night due to his stance at the Temple of Justice.
Ponpon who narrowly felt death after the horrifying fire incident sustained acute injuries on his body, ranging from his face down to his feet and was said to have been transferred from the JFK Referral Hospital in Sinkor to the Catholic Hospital where he is recovering gradually.
This is the same Archie Ponpon, the onetime advocate for ‘gays and lesbians’ rights in Liberia who also burnt the South African Government’s flag and attempted committing suicide by going on hunger strike in front of the United States Embassy, near Monrovia’s capital; but this time, his advocacy was on claims of being tired living in fear and agony.
Another memorable event was how the just ended elections across the country were graded as a success. Initially, the setting up of the Board of Commissioners following the expiration of some members’ tenure, was greeted with mixed feelings and uncertainties especially with the nomination of Cllr. Nbudusie Nwabudike to serve as chairperson of the National Elections Commission when he actually had a double nationality upon which many still frowns on why he should even be serving as head of a serious integrity institution like the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission; but again, the justification is that, that is a tenure position.
While that was being settled by the withdrawal of his nomination by President George Weah, the rest of the other nominated commissioners were confirmed and commissioned leaving the NEC without a Commission therefore the President had to announce a dress-right-dress shift for the then Deputy, Davidetta Brown Lansanah, to assume the Chairperson position though she had been confirmed for her previous nominated post.
Again, the issue about tenure came up because she was already confirmed therefore, she was occupying a tenure position and should not been nominated as the Chairperson and more to that, she had no legal background to serve as chair of the Commission but precedence cleared her on that because former Chairperson James Fromayan was neither a Counsellor nor an attorney-at-law.
The process began with pocketed hurdles beginning with delays in the timetable due to the lack of funding which began painting dark clouds over the entire process but Chairperson Lansanah did not give any of her early challenges credence to disqualify her for her daunting task; she remained focused and gradually things began falling into place.
Some of the NEC’s challenges were denying aspirant Mulbah S. Jackollie from participating in the process but the Supreme Court of Liberia ruled against the Commission’s decision to disallow him participate as a senatorial aspirant of Margibi County.
Aspirant Jackollie told the Commission that he was sick and therefore had to send a representative to complete his registration process but the commissioners rejected his registration on ground that he was not present in person to do his registration.
He then took an appeal to the Supreme Court that the NEC Board of Commissioners had denied him his right by not hearing his case and that the Justice in Chambers, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, should grant him a Writ of Mandamus.
The Justice in Chambers ruled that the NEC was in error to have declined to hear the complaint filed by the senatorial aspirant and therefore squashed the action of the NEC as being in total violation of due process which is enshrined in the Constitution of Liberia and he later withdrew from the process for reasons best known to him.
The NEC then observed that politicians were involved in pre-campaign activities and warned them to desist, terming such act as a flagrant violation of elections’ Law; making specific reference to one statement made by President Weah when he admonished Liberians at the Duala Market ground-breaking ceremony to go all out to elect the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidates across Liberia and to also mark ‘YES’ for the changes in the propositions at the National Referendum.
Yet, the process was guided and supervised properly until December 8 in spite of few places that still have contending issues which is obvious in any competitive process; the country remains peaceful and many Librarians including the internal partners as well as the regional allies can rest assured that the pending General and Presidential Elections come 2023 with the Lansanah team of Commissioners steering the process, there will be transparency and fair play.

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