‘Dark Moment’ of the West Point Quarantine
A Report by
The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR)
Submitted to: The Government and People of Liberia
October 28, 2014
TABLE OF CONTENT
1. 1. Background --------------------------------------------------------------- 4
2. 2.Introduction --------------------------------------------------------------- 6
3. 3.Methodology -------------------------------------------------------------- 8
4. 4.Findings -------------------------------------------------------------------- 8
5. 5.Conclusion ---------------------------------------------------------------- 12
6. 6.Recommendations ------------------------------------------------------- 13
Appendices ---------------------------------------------------------------- 17
Appendix A: Testimonies of Witnesses
Appendix B: Photos from the Scene of the Shooting
Appendix C: Photos Presented by the JFK Memorial Hospital
Appendix D: Communications
1. 1. BACKGROUND
In the month of March 2014, authorities at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare reported the first case of the Ebola disease in Lofa County, Northern Liberia. The disease later began to spread to other parts of the country amidst initial public denial. As Monrovia and its surroundings had fallen prey to the disease, President Sirleaf declared the disease a National Emergency in June 2014. That was followed by the establishment of a National Taskforce on Ebola, co-chaired by the President.
As the prevalence of the infection of the disease intensified, several lives were lost, including those of many health workers. This resulted in the closure of key health facilities in several parts of the country, including the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, ELWA Hospital and the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia. Consequently, the President, on August 6, 2014, declared a State of Emergency, equating the epidemic to “an unrest affecting the existence, security and well-being of the Republic amounting to a clear and present danger”. In the same vein, the President alluded to the possible institution by Government of “extraordinary measures, including, if need be, the suspensions of certain rights and privileges.”
Despite the aforesaid measures and attempts to deploy more health workers and to open new Ebola treatment centers with the help of the international community, the disease continues its spread to all political subdivisions of the country. Reuters quoted WHO on October 22 as saying as of October 19, 2014, “Liberia has been worst hit, with 4,665 recorded cases and 2,705 deaths, followed by Sierra Leone with 3,706 cases and 1,259 deaths. Guinea, where the outbreak originated, has had 1,540 cases and 904 deaths.”
The Township of West Point
The Township of West Point is a peninsula jutting from the fork of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mesurado River and separated from Central Monrovia by the UN Drive. The township has a population of about 75,000 people. The population cuts across the various ethnic groups of Liberia and nationals of other West African countries. Residents comprise mainly low income people and petty traders. Most young people in West Point are unemployed and subsist generally on the fishing trade led by Ghanaians and the Kru ethnic group. Basic social services are virtually nonexistent. There is only one public school housed in a structure originally intended for a market. No public clinic exists in the Township.
Although the history of the community dates as far back as the early 1940s, West Point remains a major slum divided into seven working zones. Zone one, which contains “Zimbabwe” and “White Flowers”, is occupied by the most stigmatized and marginalized residents of West Point. “Zimbabwe” and “White Flowers” are among the most notorious ghettos in the Country.
 Statement on the declaration of the State of Emergency by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, R.L, August 6, 2014
This report catalogues findings of the investigation and the hearing into the August 16 dismantling and looting of the West Point Ebola Transit Center and the August 20 West Point shooting incident.
The Government of Liberia (GOL) declared a State of Emergency on August 6, 2014 to counter the rapid spread of the Ebola virus disease. As the Government put measures in place to counter the spread of the disease, reports indicated the presence of the disease in the Township of West Point on the basis of which the Ministry of Health established an Ebola holding/transit center. On August 16, 2014, the Center was ransacked by some residents of the Township on grounds that dead bodies and sick patients from elsewhere were being brought to the center and that residents of the center were not fed regularly and sufficiently. Patients at the center left it and re-entered the Community. The police assigned to man the center and the depot abandoned the community leading to the looting of the center. Materials at the center, including blood stained mattresses, food, medical supplies and power generators, were looted. The Nation was alarmed.
Hence, during the early morning hours of August 20th, the Government of Liberia quarantined, with immediate effect, West Point and Dolo Town in Montserrado and Margibi counties, respectively. The Joint Security Forces, comprising the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), inter alias, were deployed in the two communities to enforce the quarantine and to provide backup for the Ministry of Health team.
Although the Commissioner of West Point had prior knowledge of the quarantine plan, the residents of the Township protested the quarantine as being abrupt because of the lack of notice, thus depraving them of the time needed to get the necessities to sustain their families for the duration of the quarantine. This protest, the general chaos attending the quarantine, and some official indiscretion detailed in this report culminated into the shootings that left one person dead, and another seriously wounded on August 20, 2014.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf set up a Committee headed by the Ministry of Defense, to investigate the shootings. The Committee reported to the President on September 10, 2014. After reviewing the report, the President asked the Independent National Commission on Human Rights to conduct an in-depth investigation of the incident, with emphasis on the views of the residents of the Township.
The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) was already investigating, pursuant to its mandate, To inquire or investigate, suo motu or on a complaint presented to it by a victim or any person on his/her behalf, into a complaint of violation of human rights or abetment thereof or negligence in the prevention of such violation by the State, any of its functionaries, or public servants, or any other related person. Article III Sec. (3)(a) of the INCHR Act, Powers of The Commission.
The Commission held hearings from September 29 through October 21, 2014 interviewing about 40 persons, including the lone surviving shooting victim Titus Nuah (shot in the stomach), Sylvester Kromah (wounded by barbed wire while running away from the shootings),West Point Commissioner, Madam Miatta Flowers, several residents of the Township, the Chief Medical Officer and the General Administrator of the JFK Memorial Medical Center, Dean of the A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, the supervisor and the driver of Hon. Saah Joseph’s Ambulance (Responder 2), and former AFL officer, Lt. Col. Augustine J. Nagbe (aka Gen. Power), and Journalist Watson Johnson, a Senior TV Reporter of the Power TV and others.
The Commission wrote to the Minister of Defense, and to the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police, requesting access to their commanders and to any other relevant personnel of their entities present in West Point at the time of the shooting incident in order for the Commission to get their version of the story.
The Ministry of Defense responded to the letter by sending its lawyer with a verbal message seeking a clarification to our request. The lawyer was told that the Commission preferred a written response to its written request. Thereafter, the Minister wrote to the INCHR Chairperson nominating two lawyers to liaise with the Commission on the West Point shootings. The Commission considered the Minister’s letter as an intentional non-response and a clear indication of the MOD’s unwillingness to cooperate with the investigation without an excuse.
When the Police Director or his representative did not appear on the date of his invitation, an INCHR Commissioner made a follow up visit at which time the Chief of Staff/Senior Policy Advisor, Col. Edwin V. Hoff, informed the Commissioner that the communication, signed for by an office staff, Inspector Kemokai (Cell No. 0770800287) on September 28, 2014, could not be located. Col. Hoff acknowledged receipt of the letter but promised that his office would liaise with Deputy Director for Operations to designate somebody to appear for the investigation. However, the LNP did not attend the hearing and no excuse was offered.
1. 3. METHODOLOGY
1. INCHR investigators made on-the-spot visits and collected information.
2. INCHR extended invitations to eyewitnesses and media experts and their testimonies were recorded.
3. Authorities and stakeholders of the Township of West Point were invited and their statements were recorded.
4. INCHR conducted hearings by interviewing the witnesses.
5. Other materials relied on included still photos, video and newspaper clips, medical reports and opinion.
Hearing dates and venue were announced on several media outlets. The hearings ran from September 29 to October 21, 2014. The Board of Commissioners interviewed each witness individually.
1. 4. FINDINGS BY INCHR BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
The Board of Commissioners of the INCHR, having reviewed all the evidence/information provided by the nearly 40 persons interviewed, hereby finds as follows:
4.1 On The Looting of the Ebola Holding Center
4.1.1Witnesses’ testimonies have confirmed that the holding center was established in West Point without prior community awareness.
1 4.1.2 Based on the testimonies of witnesses, the Ebola Response Team of the Health Ministry was transporting dead bodies and suspected Ebola contacts from different communities to the West Point holding center; this action on the part of the Response Team prompted the public protest that degenerated into the dismantling of the Center and subsequent desertion of the Center by the police.
1. 4.1.3 he desertion of post by officers of the Liberia National Police who had been assigned at the Center, left the holding center vulnerable to looting by some residents.
1 4.1.4 The looting of the West Point Center exposed the community to potential health hazard.
4.1.5 Mr. Alfred Nagbe (aka Muller) was arrested, paraded with generator on his head and kept for several hours in handcuffs at the back of a pickup before being taken to the Zone 8 police cell. He denied looting or stealing the generator but rather had retrieved it from looters for safekeeping.
4.2 On The Shooting Incident – August 20, 2014
1 4.2.1 On the early morning hours of August 20, 2014, the Township of West Point was quarantined by the Government of Liberia, with the Joint Security forces stationed there to enforce the quarantine.
1. 4.2.2 The Commissioner of West Point was informed by the Government of Liberia of the quarantine three days before the quarantine.
1 4.2.3Residents of West Point had no prior knowledge that the Township would be quarantined .
4.2.4 The Commissioner was not in West Point at the time of the quarantine.
1.1 4.2.5 On the first day of the quarantine, the Commissioner of West Point attempted to evacuate her family from West Point despite the quarantine imposed on the community.
1. 4.2.6 From the testimonies of witnesses and the review of video and newspaper clips, some of the West Point residents were angry and determined to prevent the Township Commissioner and her family from leaving the quarantined community.
1 4.2.7 The protesters surrounded the premises of the Commissioner to prevent her from taking her family out of the Township.
1. 4.2.8 By her testimonies, which are confirmed by other witnesses, the Township Commissioner called for the intervention of the security forces to evacuate her and her family from the Township, away from the protesting residents.
1 4.2.9 The security succeeded in evacuating the Commissioner and her family at which time, the angry protesters began throwing stones at the security forces. Some police officers also threw stones at the protesters.
4.2.10 Additional soldiers came as backup and began firing warning shots in the air.
1. 4.2.11 Based on the testimonies of witnesses, shots were also fired in the crowd.
4.2.12 The 15-year-old Shaki Kamara was shot in the legs which shattered his right leg (tibia and fibula), resulting in profuse bleeding (newspapers and video clips attached).
1 4.2.13 According to video recording, first aid was administered to Shaki’s seriously wounded leg by MSF staff and an AFL soldier, as he laid on the ground at the scene of the shooting, crying and explaining that he had gone only to buy bread.
4.2.14 Another young man, 22-year-old Titus Nuah, who was shot in the stomach, laid bleeding.
Sylvester Kromah sustained serious bodily lacerations from barb wires while attempting to escape the scene of the shooting and the angry mob from West Point. He was also bleeding.
1 4.2.15. According to video recording, Col. D. F. Forleh, Chief of Operations of the Joint Security mission in West Point, “two warning shots were fired in the air. Nobody shot anybody. He got strangulated between wheelbarrows.”
4.2.16. According to the video, Deputy Police Director for Operations, Col. Abraham Kromah, said it was unnecessary for the crowd to throw stones at the police. He said “Be that as it may, the kid has to be taken to hospital.” He also said he had called an ambulance.
4. 2.17. Both the police and the army were carrying guns and some of them were flogging civilians with expandable batons even in their houses and in the market, according to the video.
4.2.18. Miatta Lamina (aka Baby Ma) was flogged over and over and kicked by a police officer assisted by a military personnel while trying to run away from them. She was accused by the same police of being a prostitute because of her hairstyle.
4.2.19. Col. Samuel Nimely (106), Chief of Intelligence of the Liberia National Police, was seen on the video carrying a long gun (which appears to be a Winchester) and a side arm parading the scene of the shooting (see video clip).
1 4.2.20. Hon. Saah Joseph’s Ambulance (Responder 2) was called by the Joint Security and it transported the three wounded persons to the JFK Memorial Hospital under security escort after a long argument. The ambulance left the shooting site at about 1:00pm.
1. 4.2.21. The three wounded persons were deposited in the hallway of the JFK Administration building after vigorous protest from the Administration indicating that the Hospital was closed except for the maternity center.
1. 4.2.22. The AFL soldiers and the journalist who had escorted the ambulance left the Hospital compound while the ambulance was being cleansed of blood by the supervisor and the driver of said ambulance.
4.2.23. The JFK Administration offered two of the wounded water and soda and administered drips to Shaki.
4.2.24. The JFK Administration called Dr. Bernice Dahn of the Ministry of Health requesting for ambulance because the one ambulance that the JFK Hospital had was inoperable. The JFK Administrator said that the wounded remained on JFK premises for only 45 minutes.
4.2.25. The three wounded young men were transported to the Redemption Hospital by the Ministry of Health ambulance, arriving there, according to Doctor Mohammed Sankor, at 8:10pm which timeframe was at variance with the time of departure from the J.F.K. Hospital compound, 45 minutes stay.
4.2.26 Upon arrival at the Redemption Hospital, the few employees on duty said that the Hospital was closed and had no supplies and therefore they were not accepting patients; but after some delay and protracted arguments between them and the ambulance crew, they admitted the patients.
4.2.27. According to Dr. Sankor, Shaki Kamara, upon arrival “Shaki was conscious but confused. He could not talk and was not alert. He had multiple injuries (Traumatic injuries) of the legs.”
1. 4.2.28. According to Dr. Mohammed Sankor, he treated Shaki Kamara by applying “pressure dressing to wounds of the legs including intravenous fluids of potassium chloride, tetanus antitoxin against tetanus and Analgesic (Diclofanac) intramuscularly.”
1 4.2.29. Also according to Dr. Sankor, Shaki Kamara died on August 20, 2014 at 9:30pm, stating the cause of death as “traumatic injuries of the legs secondary to violence.”
4.2.30. The other shooting victim, Titus Nuah, who was in the same room at the Redemption Hospital with Shaki Kamara, said the following: “Shaki was administered drips, he constantly requested water to drink but received none, he called out to the nurses but no one came, he rolled down from the bed to the floor and crawled to my bed telling me Timaya, I will die; I want to drink. He called plenty times crying and nobody came; he stopped talking and sleep carried me. When I woke up round about 5:00am, Shaki was dead.”
4.2.31. According to Dr. V. Kanda Golakai (MD, ChM, FLCS, FWACS, ScD), Dean, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, Professor & Consultant/Department of Surgery, JFK Medical Center, “Based on still photographs and video images of the injuries sustained by the patient in those presentations, I can say with certainty that the victim of those injuries could have been successfully treated by a competent person or team in Liberia and should not have died as a result of such injuries.”
4.2.32. Unidentified witnesses informed the INCHR that Shaki Kamara was aimed at and shot in the leg by a police officer.
Unidentified witnesses informed the INCHR that Titus Nuah was shot at by a military personnel.
4.2.33. These witnesses are ready to prove their allegations but only if their safety will be guaranteed.
1. 5. CONCLUSION
From the facts we have gathered from testimonies, videos, field visits, medical records, medical opinions, and the totality of the circumstances, we conclude as follows:
5.1. As to the ransacking and looting of the West Point Ebola Holding Center on August 16, 2014, INCHR has determined that the lack of information about the establishment of the Holding Center, and failure to sensitize the residents about the need for the Center contributed to the protest.
5.2 The abandonment of the Center and the West Point police depot by the police left the Center vulnerable to the subsequent looting of the Center.
5.3. The arrest and humiliation of Mr. Alfred Nagbe, head of the Community Watch Team of West Point, further exacerbated the tension in West Point.
5.4. As to the shooting incident of August 20, 2014, in West Point, INCHR says that the indiscretion/misjudgment or perhaps intentional violation of the quarantine order by the Township Commissioner Madam Miatta Haja Flowers, to evacuate her family assisted by the very security forces deployed to enforce the quarantine order, was a glaring display of special treatment for the Commissioner and her family and discrimination against the residents of West Point who were quarantined under the President’s emergency power. These actions and circumstances led to the protest. The security forces were to enforce the quarantine order, not to allow entry into or exit from West Point. They disobeyed the order of the President by allowing the Commissioner to enter West Point and not only that, they allowed and assisted her quarantined family and herself to exit from West Point.
5.5. The violent reaction of the residents in trying to prevent the Commissioner and her family from leaving the community culminated in the throwing of stones and insults at the security forces.
6.6 In response, the Joint Security Forces called for a military backup. The military backup started shooting warning shots in the air from the Ecobank Waterside branch, as they moved towards the checkpoint at the LEC gate while the Commissioner and her family were loaded in a vehicle. INCHR says that the militant manner in which the backup team entered the scene of the confusion heightened the pandemonium and further agitated the protesting crowd.
5.7 Shots were fired in the air according to video recordings. INCHR however says that the bullets that shattered the leg of the late Shaki Kamara leading to his death, and the bullet(s) that Titus Nuah received in his stomach could not have been fired in the air. Instead, they were live bullets fired into the crowd, or directly at the victims.
5.8 According to the video recording and still photos, the shooting victims lost a lot of blood and did not receive prompt and adequate medical attention.
1. 6. RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 West Point is home to about 75,000 residents, most of them young people, who, due to their circumstances, have been deprived of formal education and proper upbringing. Some of them are traumatized street children and therefore, have turned to drugs and alcohol, and to support their habits, they engage in criminal activities, including robbery. As a result of these conditions, these citizens of Liberia have become stigmatized and marginalized. INCHR recommends that the Government finds ways and means to improve the living conditions of its citizens in West Point and eventually the other urban slum communities such as New Kru Town, Clara Town, Soniwhein, Slipway, Buzzy Quarters and others. GOL must put in place a comprehensive development plan to raise these citizens from their present sub-standard living conditions by providing housing, health facilities, schools, adult literacy programs, vocational training centers, and public toilets.
6.2 The criminal elements in West Point and their “territories”, especially “Zimbabwe” and “White Flowers,” must be dismantled and not allowed by Government‘s non-action to terrorize the entire West Point community and beyond. Citizens as well as residents of West Point also are entitled to Government’s protection from harm.
6.3 INCHR recommends that the President, through the Minister of Internal Affairs, reassign Madam Flowers if the Government still finds confidence in her. But for her own safety and the welfare of the Township, she should be replaced.
6.4 The Township Commissioner knew that her township would be quarantined on August 20, 2014. Yet, she chose to sleep in Central Monrovia on August 19, 2014. Her return to the quarantined Township not to stay but to evacuate her family led to the resistance and subsequent flare of violence. INCHR recommends that the Commissioner issue a sincere public apology to the residents of West Point and the Liberian public for her misjudgment, and beg for forgiveness from the families of Shaki Kamara, who lost his life, Titus Nuah, who is still in hospital and Sylvester Kromah, who also sustained serious injuries by running into barb wires in his desperate efforts to get away from the scene – gun sounds and stone-throwing mob.
6.5 Because of the circumstances of the Township of West Point as mentioned in Recommendation #1, INCHR further recommends that counseling sessions be organized by Government and NGOs, human rights and Civil Society Organizations to help the youth of urban Liberia beginning in West Point to cope with their anger, brought on by frustration, poverty, ignorance and stigmatization, and while at it, offer them hope. INCHR says in this connection, the youth be made to understand that the way forward is not through violence because Liberians experimented with that process before and the lessons learned are not worth repeating. The road to positive change is through the rule of law.
6.6 While INCHR understands the circumstances that provoked the anger demonstrated by some of the residents, INCHR condemns the throwing of stones by civilians at the state security forces. INCHR equally condemns the deployment of military and the contingent’s response to the civilian action. While the civilians were throwing stones, the military came on the scene with guns and assumed combat posture, which inflamed the volatile situation. For instance, the military backup came on the scene with lethal weapons.
6.7 INCHR condemns the deployment of soldiers and armed police to quell a civilian uprising such as happened in West Point. The use of non-lethal weapon – teargas – would have been sufficient to disband the stone throwing residents. In fact it did. The protestors stopped their stone throwing aggression when the police fired teargas, according to video recording. That was how the joint forces were able to advance into inner West Point. The INCHR recommends that military personnel be kept out of civilian disorderly conduct problems; that the military be deployed to encounter military insurgencies; that the Police, who ought to be peace officers and presumed to be trained to deal with such matters, be allowed to use their skills in order to save lives and not to shoot, kill or wound civilians.
6.8 According to video recording of press statement by Col. D. F. Forleh, AFL, “two shots were fired in the air and nobody got shot.” INCHR however says that the bullets that shattered Shaki Kamara’s legs were not fired in the air. This fact is undebatable for obvious reasons. Except it was a magic bullet (which it was not, right?). A bullet shot in the air cannot fall from above and shatter somebody’s legs, especially a person standing up as was Shaki Kamara’s position when he fell to the ground after the impact.
Similarly in the case of Titus who was shot in the stomach, INCHR says that the shots that the military admitted to firing in the air were not the shots that hit Titus in his stomach, for the same obvious reason. In both cases INCHR says that those shots were fired directly into the crowd or directly at the victims in complete disregard for human life. This complete disregard for human life resulted into the death of Shaki Kamara – a violation of his right to life, and the victimization of his family, and the other shot that posed a serious threat to the life and wellbeing of Titus Nuah who is, as we speak, confined to a hospital bed. The INCHR recommends as follows:
6.9 As to the late Shaki Kamara, INCHR recommends that the President of Liberia, on behalf of the Government, extends a public apology to the family. The INCHR also strongly recommends monetary compensation to the family, amount to be determined by the Government in collaboration with the Interreligious Council.
6.10 INCHR recommends further that the Government of Liberia erects a health center in West Point in memory of the late Shaki Kamara to be called The Shaki Kamara Memorial Health Center.
6.11 As to Titus Nuah, INCHR recommends that he be flown to a renowned hospital in Accra, Ghana for further evaluation/treatment, accompanied by a family member and the physician who operated on him at the S.D.A. Cooper Hospital in Monrovia and that the Government of Liberia, through the President’s office, underwrites the cost. The INCHR further recommends that the Government of Liberia provides financial compensation for Titus to restart his life if he makes a full recovery, if not, that the Government provides his support for the rest of his life.
6.12 As to Sylvester Kromah who also sustained serious lacerations while attempting to get away from the life-threatening atmosphere that obtained at that moment (the shooting and the angry mob) ran into barbwires, Government should compensate him for the pain and suffering, amount to be determined by the President of Liberia.
6.13 As to Mr. Alfred Nagbe (aka Muller) who was falsely accused of stealing a generator, publically humiliated and punished without due process of law, INCHR recommends that LNP authority issue a public apology to Mr. Nagbe for a violation of his human right to be treated with dignity as a human being. INCHR further recommends that the President determines a certain amount of money to be paid to the victim for the violation of his human rights – right to be accorded due process before judgment is rendered against him and the right to be treated with dignity as stipulated by both national and international law.
6.14 INCHR recommends that all compensations made to the victims herein listed should be made public for the information of the people of Liberia and beyond.
6.15 As to the request for the protection and safety of the eyewitnesses, the INCHR lacks the required resources such as funds, expertise, and other logistical support to address these concerns. The INCHR therefore recommends that the Government of Liberia makes the appropriate intervention in the interest of justice.
6.16 When the shooters shall have been identified, the INCHR recommends that they be stripped of their immunities, if any, and tried or prosecuted in a court of law for their reckless disregard for Shaki Kamara’s right to life and Titus Nuah’s right to a safe environment and protection of his person by the Government.
6.17 The Liberian police and army have received trainings since Liberia’s return to civilian rule. But for that fact, the West Point incident would have been more horrendous. Notwithstanding their training, two persons were shot at; police and soldiers were flogging peaceful people, people in the market place, doing business. These are indicators that there is still a need for more training. INCHR recommends that government does not relent in educating and training the police and army personnel, especially those whose behavior as portrayed in videos on August 20, 2014 leaves much to be desired. END
Testimonies of Witnesses
a) Looting of the Ebola Holding Center
Testimony of the Township Commissioner
The Commissioner of the Township of West Point, Madam Miatta H. Flowers, a principal witness, told the INCHR Board of Commissioners that she was in the community on Saturday, August 16, 2014 when the Ebola Holding Center set up in the township by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MHSW) was vandalized and looted by some protesting residents. She said that the residents were angry about the establishment of the Center out of denial of the presence of the Ebola disease in the community. The Commissioner averred that the residents were also angry with her on allegations that she had masterminded the setting up of the Center in exchange for financial gains. Ms. Flowers intimated that the police had once rescued her from a group of people who had gone to her office and jeered at her.
Asked if she had prior knowledge of the establishment of the Center and whether she had informed the residents, she said that the Center was established by the Government of Liberia and that there was no ample time for her to have informed the community. According to her, the MHSW had established the Center through the recommendation of one Dr. Mosoka Fallah who works with the Action Contre La Faime, based on the information she (the Commissioner) had provided. “I personally saw some people crawling due to sickness. Dr. Fallah came in as a result of the information I gave, because people were getting sick, especially a Kissi family”, the Commissioner explained.
Testimonies of other Witnesses
Witness WPW: The witness is a resident of West Point, age 38.
The witness said that the Ebola Holding Center was stormed by an angry crowd on Saturday, August 16, 2014. According to him, some of the perpetrators claimed that their relatives held at the Center were not being accorded proper care, while others contended that it was not appropriate to have the Center in a populated community such as West Point as it would expose the residents to health risk. The witness stated that officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) assigned at Center had left their post before the facility was vandalized and looted. He explained that there was no food and medication at the Center. The witness said that when he approached the Commissioner about the incident she said that the situation was beyond her control.
Witness WPD: The witness, age 27, lives in West Point
Witness WPD explicated that the Commissioner of the Township of West Point, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, and Augustine J. Nagbe (aka General Power) had gone to an “Attaye” center and said that they wanted to have a meeting with them regarding the protest that was unfolding in front of the N.V. Massaquoi public school which hosted the Ebola Holding Center. He said that the Commissioner and “General Power” had informed the audience at the “Attaye” center about roadblocks being mounted by some residents who were protesting the establishment of the Holding Center in the township. However, according to the witness, the Commissioner and “General Powell” contradicted each other during the meeting when the former said that the N. V. Massaquoi School building was not a Holding Center, while the latter said the opposite. He explained that when the residents at the meeting decried the bringing of dead bodies from outside of West Point to the Center, the Commissioner negated the information, while “General Power” again disagreed with her. These contradictory statements by the Township Commissioner and “General Power”, the witness averred, sparked confusion among the audience and resulted in the abortion of the discussion. At the same time, the witness alleged that the Ebola Response Unit of the MHSW was bringing dead bodies and suspected Ebola contacts from different areas to the holding Center, to the dislike of some residents of the township.
Witness WPM: The witness, age 25, resides in West Point.
The witness informed the Board of Commissioners that he was at the “Bob Marley Video Club” at the time of the public protest that degenerated into the looting of the Holding Center. He said that the root cause of the incident was that the residents of West Point were opposed to the presence of the Center because sick people were being brought there from different places, some of whom were dying, which created the notion that the Ebola disease was spreading in the community. He said that much more annoying was the failure of health authorities to mention the communities of the people who were dying at the Center.
The witness disclosed that during the incident two boys had stolen a generator from the Center but were intercepted by one “Muller” (Alfred B. Nagbe), who retrieved the generator. The witness quoted “Muller” as having said that he had informed the Commissioner of the township, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, about the retrieval of the generator. He said that prior to the looting a group of women approached the Commissioner about the existence of the Center but were not given any redress.
The witness added that Representative Solomon George of Montserrado County later took to the airwaves and accused “Muller” of stealing the generator from the Center. He claimed to have also heard that the Minister of Justice, Christiana Tah, had requested information about anyone who might have participated in the looting of the facility. Witness WPM indicated that afterward some state security forces went to West Point and did not only arrest but also forced “Muller” to carry on his head the very generator he had retrieved from the looters. “Muller was cuffed and tied to the generator,” he narrated.
Witness WPN: The witness is 52-year-old and lives in West Point.
The witness told the Board of Commissioners that Ebola patients and dead bodies were being transported from elsewhere to the West Point Ebola Holding Center, which sparked resistance from West Pointers. He alleged that in the first instance, West Pointers were not informed about the establishment of the Center. Second, West Point, with a population of approximately 85,000 people, was not an ideal place for such a center. He asserted that when he personally approached the Commissioner of the Township, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, about the situation, she denied having any knowledge of the establishment of the center. The witness explained that in the wake of these developments, the Commissioner had left the township, especially at a time when residents desperately needed explanations from her as well as the need to provide the necessary leadership in the face of the national emergency.
In relation to the looting of the center, witness WPN said that the police officers assigned at the Center had left the facility on Saturday, August 16, which rendered it vulnerable and resulted to its looting.
Relative to the much-publicized news about a stolen generator during the looting incident, the witness recounted as follows:
“I retrieved a generator from some looters on Aug 16 and informed the Commissioner that I had retrieved a stolen generator. She told me to hold on to it. On Monday Aug 18, Representative Solomon George took the airwaves and accused me of inciting violence in West Point. The interplaying of these events culminated into my arrest around 11:00am by the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police (LNP) led by one Peewee and Tamba, accusing me of stealing a generator. I was handcuffed and forced to take the generator on my head and paraded through the streets of West Point. I was also taken to various communities on display that I was a generator rogue. They kept me until 2:00am. I was tortured and made to sleep in a tiny room with water on the floor. Since I couldn’t sleep on such a floor, I stood up the whole night. I was later taken to Camp Shuffling and kept there for hours. I was out of West Point when the shooting took place on August 20.”
Witness WPM2: The witness is a resident of West Point.
The witness said that on August 16, he met a group of people at the office of the Township Commissioner, Miatta H. Flowers, seeking explanations about the Ebola Holding Center. The Commissioner, he recounted, had denied having any knowledge of the Center. Describing himself as an opinion leader, the witness said that the West Pointers had accused him of the receipt U$3,000 from the government to facilitate the establishment of the Center. He recalled that a police officer (106) had joined him to appeal to the residents for calm at the time. The witness accentuated that Dr. Mosoka Fallah had later asked that he meet with him at the gate of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) in the Power Plant vicinity of the Township so as to collect three tarpaulins to seal the windows of the Holding Center. But the witness narrated that the Center had already been vandalized before he got on the scene with the tarpaulins.
He revealed that during the looting he had seen one Bloh and others with a stolen generator. The witness told the Board of Commissioners that the Chairman of the Community Watch Team, Mr. Alfred Nagbe, alias “Muller”, had retrieved one of the stolen generators from some of the looters and informed him (the witness) about it. He quoted “Muller” as having informed the Township Commissioner about the retrieval of the generator.
The witness continued that on August 17, which was the day after the looting incident, a team of community stakeholders, since the Commissioner was not in the township, had issued a press statement condemning the vandalizing of the Holding Center. He pointed out that he later got a call from the Director-General of the General Services Agency (GSA), Madam Mary T. Broh, to proceed to the Agency for a meeting on the looting incident. The witness disclosed that during another meeting held at the GSA on August 18, the township, through the General Secretary of its Elders Council, Mr. Sieh Kofa Mah, had apologized to the President and people of Liberia for the unfortunate incident via the mobile phone of Information Minister Lewis Brown. The witness stated that subsequently on August 19, the government had informed the nation that West Point had been quarantined.
Witness WPH: He is 54-year-old and has lived in West Point for many years. He is the spokesperson for one of the communities in the Township.
The witness explained that the Ebola Holding Center was vandalized because the West Pointers had contended that it was not established with their consent and that people whom were being brought to the Center were not from West Point.
Witness WPD2: The witness is 36 years and has lived in West Point since 2001.
Witness WPD2 said that the protesters who looted the Ebola Holding Center comprised mainly women. He said that the protesters had argued that besides being uninformed about the establishment of the Center, the community was congested to host an Ebola Center. The protesters were also disenchanted about bringing non-West Pointers to the Center. He said that the police officers responsible to man the center were constrained to leave because of the protest.
Witness WPJJ: The witness is a photo journalist employed with one of the local television stations. The witness is not a resident of West Point but has become of interest because of his significant coverage of the West Point situation.
This witness recounted that on August 16, some of the residents of West Point had begun a protest against the presence of an Ebola Holding Center in the township on grounds that it was established without the knowledge of the inhabitants and that sick people were being transported from different communities to the Center. He stated that in a bid to soothe the tension, a police officer named Samuel Nimely (106) and other police officers had spoken to the residents, assuring them that the situation would not recur. The witness asserted that having addressing the residents, the police had left the scene thereby rendering the Center vulnerable. He recalled that a rift subsequently ensued between the residents and the Commissioner of the township whom had been accused of masterminding the establishment of the Center. The protesters, according to him, had eventually taken advantage of the departure of the police to loot the Center.
Witness WPM3: The witness has lived in West Point for over ten years and is a businesswoman.
The witness explained that on August 16, she had seen people on the streets running towards the office of the Township Commissioner, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, protesting that they didn’t want the Ebola Holding Center in the township. She alleged that the protesters had surrounded the office and wanted to get the Commissioner out. The witness claimed that the Commissioner had consequently requested the health authorities to remove the Center, which they promised do by August 17. She explained that before long she saw a crowd dominated by women run towards the Center and return with materials, including blood-stained mattresses.
Augustine J. Nagbe (aka General Power): The witness, 42, lives in Central Monrovia but had previously lived in West Point for many years. He currently represents the Ministry of Justice on the National Task Force on Ebola.
Appearing before the Board of Commissioners of the INCHR on Monday, October 6, 2014, Mr. Augustine J. Nagbe narrated that he and one Chunk Davies had gone to West Point on Saturday, August 16, 2014 for the purpose of holding a meeting with the residents on the issue of the Ebola epidemic. The witness intimated that the meeting, which was being held at the office of the Commissioner of West Point, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, had ended in confusion as some of the attendees had had disagreements with the Commissioner and therefore disapproved the holding of the meeting at her officer. He said after the failed meeting an ambulance had gone to West Point and in the wake of its arrival he got information that some people were on the rampage looting the Ebola Holding Center. The witness disclosed that his daughter had participated in the looting of the Center and was under an indefinite quarantine by him.
“General Power” explained that following the looting incident he and some state security forces had gone to West Point and arrested Mr. Alfred B. Nagbe, alias “Muller”, for his alleged complicity in the looting of a generator from the Holding Center. He quoted “Muller” as having said that he had retrieved the generator from some of the looters of the Center. He stated that “Muller” was cuffed, put in a car and driven off to the Borough of New Kru Town on the Bushrod Island, where the arresting security forces had gone to collect dead bodies. Mr. Augustine J. Nagbe, who claimed to have been in charge of the operation in West Point, told the hearing that Alfred Nagbe was later taken to the Zone- 8 Police Station in the ELWA area under the command of 1st Lt. Aloysius Quaye of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
“I was the senior officer. I was in charge during the arrest,” the witness emphasized. Questioned if he was a military personnel to have been put in charge of a joint security operation comprising the military and the police, the witness pointed out that in the case of a state of emergency the military is in control of security operations and, as such, 1st Lt. Quaye of the Armed Forces of Liberia was in command of the officers who had arrested Alfred Nagbe. The latter statement runs counter to his earlier claim of overseeing the enforcement of the arrest order as a “senior officer” among the others. According to him, Alfred Nagbe was released from detention on the following day and taken to the General Services Agency (GSA) before being turned over to the community. Regarding whether the arrestee was at any point forced to carry the generator on his head, the witness said he could not remember.
b) Testimonies on the August 20, 2014, Shooting Incident
The Township Commissioner of West Point, Madam Miatta Flowers, testified that she had been forewarned of the quarantine three days before its imposition on August 20, 2014. The Commissioner, however, said that she was in central Monrovia when the community was quarantined and barricaded, but had to return on the same day because of phone calls from the Ministers of Information and Internal Affairs, Messrs. Lewis Brown and Morris M. Dukuly, to go along with thirty persons from the community for a scheduled meeting at the General Services Agency (GSA). The witness said that the state security forces assigned in the area for the enforcement of the quarantine had facilitated her entry into the community because they had had prior knowledge about the thirty persons she was going to contact for the meeting. The Commissioner asserted that while on her way, a group of residents had attacked her and some security personnel at the junction of the roads leading to the Old General Market and the Power Plant area, forcing her to run to her shop where her mother sells. “I ran in my shop and called the security informing them that I was under attack. My mother was in the shop but my sisters were not there. Then I called the police and the security, there was no response. So I sent my personal bodyguard, Jimmy Kojo, to call the security. So the security, ‘General Power’ and others came to the shop and rescued us. The security put us in the car,” the Commissioner explained. When asked as to how she came in contact with her sisters, the Commissioner said that she met her sisters at the gate of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) close to the Waterside area and had asked two security personnel of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) as well as her private guard, Jimmy Kojo, to escort them. The attackers, she alleged, had accused her of responsibility for the quarantine and the establishment of the then vandalized Ebola Holding Center. Ms. Flowers disclosed that she was constrained to call for the help of the security forces at the checkpoint for protection. She however refused to or could not tell the name of the particular officer she claimed to have called on the phone.
Asked if she had taken the officers whom she said were attacked along with her from the checkpoint, the Commissioner indicated that she came in contact with them “inside West Point”, though she had earlier stated that she stopped at her business stall at the market. She averred that her private escort (Jimmy Kojo) was present during the pandemonium. Ms. Miatta Flowers said she had first encountered Jimmy in the Waterside vicinity, outside of the quarantined zone, while en route to West Point. But she further mentioned that Jimmy Kojo resides in the “Power Plant” area of West Point, which was obviously covered by the quarantine. The Commissioner said that though she had managed to get some of the thirty persons requested by Ministers Lewis Brown and Morris M. Dukuly, she could not attend the meeting at the GSA. “They called me, but I said I could not attend because I was under attack,” she declared.
Commissioner Flowers indicated that it had taken long before she heard of the shootout and the shooting of Shaki Kamara and Titus Nuah. “I was under tension. I don’t know anything about shooting. But I heard about the shooting later. I saw it on the television when A.B. Kromah was talking about it; and some people called and told me of the shooting when I was in the car,” she pointed out, again saying that she could not remember the name (s) of any of the people who had called her. Her only response to questions seeking the mention of any specific names was, “The community called me.” Ms. Flowers said she knew the late Shaki Kamara, one of the victims of the shooting incident.
In her general comments, the witness explained that the Commissioner of the Township of West Point is usually falsely accused of being responsible for most of the problems of the community. Ms. Flowers asserted that she was informed of the Ebola Holding Center on the night before its establishment in the township. She disclosed that one Doctor Fallah of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare had suggested the need for the Center in the wake of suspected Ebola cases she had reported from the community.
Questioned about her permanent residence, the Commissioner responded: “My fiancé lives in town (Central Monrovia). I have a family house in West Point where I live together with my mother and sisters. So I live between West Point and town. Sometimes I stay a week in town, but I come to work every day.”
Witness WPK, 23 years: The witness recalled that the Commissioner of the Township of West Point, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, had gone to the township in the morning hours of Wednesday, August 20, 2014, surrounded by a group of gangsters armed with knives and other objects. The witness explained that the gangsters escorted Commissioner Flowers to her shop in the Old General Market to help get her family members out of the quarantined community. He intimated that some of the residents became angry over the Commissioner’s action and began to protest, which degenerated into confusion between the residents and the gangsters.
“The Commissioner came into the community with gangsters. She wanted to get her family from the community. And people and the gangsters went into confusion. The AFL (Armed Forces of Liberia) came in because of the tension between the Commissioner’s group and the residents,” the witness said. He said that he did not see guns with the officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) who were with the soldiers.
The witness, who had deep wounds on his two feet, said he got wounded while jumping over barbed wires when the soldiers had started shooting. He disclosed that Shaki Kamara, Titus Nuah and he were taken to the John F. Kennedy Hospital, where they were not accorded any medical attention. He said the three of them were later put in an ambulance and driven to the Redemption Hospital on the Bushrod Island, where doctors also refused to treat them. “The doctors refused to treat us because of fear of Ebola since we came from West Point. They put us among the Ebola people,” the witness asserted. He said the refusal of doctors at the JFK and the Redemption Hospitals to treat them had resulted in the death of Shaki Kamara in the night of the same day. The witness explained that he was taken from the Redemption Hospital by his uncle and carried to West Point where he was treated. He concluded his testimony with the restatement of his conviction that the shooting incident would not have happened if the Commissioner of the township, Miatta H. Flowers, had not gone to evacuate her family members from the quarantined community.
Witness WPW: The witness is 38-year-old and a businessman.
The witness initially observed that the leadership of West Point has had problem with information dissemination. He intimated that while he and others were at the checkpoint around the compound of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), the Commissioner of the Township, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, arrived there and asked them to provide her security so that she could talk to some of the residents who were at the checkpoint about the quarantine. The witness said that upon being given the opportunity to say her mind, the Commissioner had informed the audience that the imposition of the quarantine was for the common good of the community because it would help prevent the spread of the Ebola disease, particularly in the wake of the looting of the Ebola Holding Center by some residents of the township. The witness elucidated that the Commissioner concluded her message by cautioning the residents to remain calm, irrespective of the obvious side-effects of the quarantine, which included the hiking of prices of commodities and the shortage of food and water.
The witness narrated that when the Commissioner later expressed her desire to travel further down the community to speak to other residents, he personally volunteered to escort her. He asserted that after Ms. Flowers had succeeded in speaking with some of the eminent persons in the community, she subsequently proceeded to her business center with a plan to get her family members out of the quarantined community.
“The Commissioner spoke to some eminent persons and later went to her business place to relocate her family. I opposed to that. I told her that it was dangerous for her to take her mother, sister’s children and sisters from the community during the quarantine. The crowd objected to the relocation of her family. She called AFL and police officers. About fifteen officers armed with guns and teargas came. The police commander had a pistol. They beat people and collected the Commissioner and her family. Coming to the checkpoint, they started shooting,” the witness recounted. The witness disclosed that Commissioner Flowers had specifically called an AFL Commander named Lt. Quaye to assist her and her family, although the Commissioner had failed during her testimony to name the soldier whom she had called on the phone for help. He further named “General Power” (Augustine Nagbe) as one of the persons who protected and took Ms. Flowers away. “General Power” is alleged to have pointed a pistol at residents in the process.
On whether he could remember or say anything about the victims after the shooting had subsided, the witness said that the victims (Titus Nuah, Sylvester Kromah and the late Shaki Kamara were put in Montserrado County Representative Saa Joseph’s Ambulance and taken to the hospital. He alleged that security officers severely flogged one Archie Ponpon while trying to help one of the victims.
Witness WPJ: The witness is a 28-year-old resident of West Point.
The witness explained that he was at a place called “White Flower” in West Point when Jimmy Kojo, the personal bodyguard to the Commissioner of West Point, came and asked for one “Long John” to help take the Commissioner’s family out of the township. He said that “Long John” later arrived at the “White Flower” and stated that the Commissioner had promised to compensate anybody who could volunteer to assist in the process of getting her family out of the quarantined community. But the witness claimed to have advised “Long John” about the potential danger of the deal. He explained that minutes after “Long John” had left him, he saw “General Power” (Augustine J. Nagbe) along with Commissioner Miatta H. Flowers and her family members headed up the West Point New Road from the direction of the Old General Market.
“One AFL personnel pushed me and General Power told him to leave me along. Power took the Commissioner from the ‘gronna’ boys (gangsters) who were guarding her. AFL vehicle came and we heard firing of guns. Aloysius Quaye was on the AFL vehicle. I recognized him because we were all in the Clara Town area,” the witness said. He alleged that Commissioner Flowers had recruited the “grona boys” (gangsters) from a quarter of the community called “Zimbabwe” along the beach. Quizzed if he knew the late Shaki Kamara, the witness responded in the positive, saying that he and Kamara were both members of the same youth group in the community. When asked about what in his view was the cause of the incident, the witness said the problem erupted because the Commissioner had asked the “Zimbabwe boys” to help her evacuate her family from West Point. “The main cause of the problem is because the Commissioner tried to remove her family from the township, which was a violation of the quarantine order and disrespect to the President of Liberia,” the witness emphasized.
Witness WPD: The witness, age 27, resides in West Point.
The witness explained that while en route to the market on August 20, 2014, he saw the Township Commissioner, Ms. Miatta Flowers, in the company of a group of “gangsters” who wanted to help get her family out of the township. He said the Commissioner was opposed by an angry crowd. The first shooting, according to him, took place in the West Point estate around the residence of Mr. Frank Jericho Nagbe, the former coach of Liberia’s national football team, the Lone Star. The witness alleged that even after the August 20 shooting incident, the Commissioner still moved with the gangsters and threatened people she perceived as opposition to her.
Witness WPM: Twenty-five years of age, the witness lives in West Point.
“I was at the Attaye shop at the estate (West Point estate) and I saw the Commissioner (the Commissioner of West Point) surrounded by “gronna boys” (gangsters), including “Long John”, with sticks. Those same people had earlier extorted money from businesspeople. She (the Commissioner) looked frightened. She said she wanted to talk to some community people. But they turned around to go to her business place. I saw some officers led by “General Power”. She said she wanted protection for her people. The AFL and LNP were protecting them and even entered the Attaye shop and started beating people. The first shot was fired in the estate (West Point Estate).
When Titus came (Titus Nuah who sustained bullet wound in the stomach), I stopped him not to join the crowd. But he said they would not allow the Commissioner to get her family out of West Point. Archie Ponpon was beaten while helping Sylvester Kromah (another victim). Shaki died because he was not treated on time.”
Witness WPM2: The witness is a resident of West Point.
The witness told the Board of Commissioners that he had received a call from Minister Lewis Brown of the Ministry of Information to mobilize people for a meeting to address issues emanating from the quarantining of West Point. He said that in the process of mobilizing the people, he met the Commissioner of West Point flanked by people holding sticks trying to protect her. The witness quoted the Commissioner as saying that she would contact a police officer, Robert Saah (107), to accompany her to the meeting. He explained that while en route to the meeting, he met Earnest Tweh, Dr. Mosoka Fallah and others at the gate of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) preparing for the same meeting. He said as they awaited the arrival of additional persons for the meeting, he saw the personal bodyguard of the Commissioner running towards them, indicating that he was going to inform the security forces because the Commissioner had been attacked. The witness recounted that before long he saw the Commissioner and her family being escorted by “Gen. Powell” and some security personnel, on the instruction of Lt. Aloysius Quaye (the Joint Taskforce Commander). The witness averred that the police, headed by A.B. Kromah, had begun firing tear gas, while the AFL soldiers began shooting as the Commissioner and her family members were being escorted to a jeep owned by “General Power”, which was parked at the intersection of the UN Drive and the road leading to West point. He recalled that one Roger Kofa had held the hand of the Commissioner’s mother and escorted her to the car that immediately took away. On the issue of the Commissioner’s residency, the witness said that the Commissioner lived on Center Street, opposite the Exclusive Supermarket, and only went to work in West Point.
Witness WPJ: The witness is a resident of West Point.
The witness testified that on August 20, the Commissioner of West Point had requested him to attend a meeting either at the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Ministry of Information. He stated that as a tradition, he had called the Secretary and the Dean of the elders to accompany him. The witness indicated that not too long after they had gathered at the Commissioner’s market stall where her mother lived, people began to stone them. He alleged that some of the residents were accusing the Commissioner of trying to take her family away from West Point. He stated that while the broil was going on, a security vehicle arrived and parked at the “Stanley Drug Store” near a coal warehouse to collect the Commissioner. Quizzed whether or not he saw the vehicle that came to get the Commissioner, the witness said: “I was only told that a vehicle was waiting to collect the Commissioner but I myself did not see it.” He said that he was not at the scene of the shooting but heard the sounds of guns. Asked if he had any knowledge of the Commissioner’s whereabouts when West Point was quarantined, the witness responded in the negative, but said that the Commissioner had told him that she was in West Point during the quarantine.
Witness WPK2: The witness, age 87, has lived in West Point for many years.
The witness explained that on August 20, the Commissioner of West Point, Ms. Miatta Flowers, had sent for opinion leaders to attend a meeting at the General Services Agency (GSA). He stated that the Commissioner was attacked by some residents of the township while they were at her office and had to escape with the assistance of security forces. He claimed that the Commissioner did not immediately go to the meeting because of the attack but had later joined him and other opinion leaders at the meeting.
Witness WPB: The witness, age 45, resides in West Point.
The witness explained that the Commissioner of West Point had invited him and others to a meeting on August 20. He said while en route to the Commissioner’s house, he saw an angry crowd carrying sticks and cutlasses in an attempt to attack the Commissioner. “The Commissioner was in the house with her mother; her family was crying for help due to the attacking crowd,” the man alleged. He said that he later saw the police coming, forcing him to flee the area due to fear.
However, the witness said he did not witness the shooting episode, but was surprised when the Commissioner went back to West Point the next day demonstrating “true leadership”. He claimed that it had taken two days before he got news that someone had died from the shooting incident. Asked about the Commissioner’s residence status, the witness said that the Commissioner lived in West Point, but would leave the community on weekends.
Witness WPF: The witness is 58 years and resides in West Point.
The witness informed the INCHR Board of Commissioners that on August 20, the Commissioner of the Township had been asked to carry some community stakeholders to a meeting at the General Services Agency (GSA). He asserted that while they were at the Commissioner’s house, people began to shoot and the security forces came and collected the Commissioner and her mother. He said some of the security forces who had rescued the Commissioner were police officers and soldiers. The witness claimed that the Commissioner sometimes spent time in Central Monrovia where her fiancé lived.
Witness WPD2: Age 36, the witness has been in West Point since 2001.
The witness said he was a member of the team that was negotiating with state actors on the situations of the looting of the Ebola Holding Center on August 16 and the quarantine imposed on West Point on August 20.
“We were at the waterside preparing for a planned meeting. During that time, the Township Commissioner was still in West Point. Then the Aide-de-camp to the Commissioner, Jimmy Kojo, came and announced that the Commissioner had been attacked. We were at the waterside when the people began stoning. We were with the Elders Council when the shooting started. Later, security forces brought the Commissioner and put her in a vehicle near the Eco bank. I saw the Commissioner alone with no family members. At the time the Commissioner was brought to the Eco bank, there was no shooting,” the witness narrated. He said that the Commissioner had later joined them at the meeting at the General Services Agency (GSA).
Witness WPF: The witness is a resident of West Point and Businessman.
The witness narrated that on August 20 he saw Joint Security forces commanding everyone to remain in their houses. He disclosed that the road leading to West Point was closed by 4:00am with soldiers parading the streets and announcing the imposition of a curfew.
The witness pointed out that he had seen the Commissioner of West Point with some security officers going into the township. He recalled that after about an hour, he saw the Commissioner headed towards the Old General Market and before long people began chanting, saying that they would prevent the Commissioner from taking her family out of the township. He said some people in the crowd were throwing stones. The witness said that he then entered the house and started to watch the situation through ventilated blocks. He narrated that afterward he heard someone giving command for soldiers to shoot. “I did not recognize any security because I was indoors but I saw some security officers (102, 106, & 107) pass through the township,” the witness recounted.
Witness WPJJ: The witness is not a resident of West Point but has become of interest because of his significant coverage of the West Point situation.
The witness said that during the morning hours of August 20, he had requested permission from Col. A.B. Kromah of the Liberia National Police to go into West Point to cover the activity of the health team from the Health Ministry that was already on its way there. He said that Col. Kromah had granted him permission, but not without cautioning him of the potential danger of undertaking such a task. The witness explained that though he had accomplished his mission without event, he encountered a precarious situation characterized by sporadic shootings involving some protesters and state security forces upon his arrival at the gate of the Liberia Electricity Corporation while returning from central West Point. He said that he came across Shaki Kamara, already shot. The witness disclosed that Shaki had informed him that his mother had sent him to buy her some tea. He narrated that when he inquired from “102” of the Liberia National Police about the shooting incident, he (102) indicated that none of his men had been ordered to shoot. The witness stated that afterwards he had followed the security to go back into West Point, but found Shaki still lying on the ground upon return.
The witness averred that when he approached the head of the West Point Operations, Col. Davidson Forleh, on the shootout, he said that he was in West Point to help West Pointers and that his men had fired only two shots in the air, citing rule of engagement as the reason for the shooting. He disclosed that contrary to Col. Forleh’s statement, other AFL soldiers informed him (the witness) that they had fired once. The witness claimed to have seen police officers carrying sophisticated weapons but did not recall seeing any of them shoot. He indicated that Shaki, along with two other victims, was later taken to the JFK Hospital after lying on the ground for hours. The witness climaxed his testimony with the display of footage of the incident.
Witness WPK2: The witness, age 42, resides in West Point and is a Businesswoman. She has been in the township since 1980.
The witness explained that at about 5:00 am on Wednesday, August 20, she had come out of the house to light her coal pot to prepare her business food. But she said she was then told by some soldiers to go back into the house. The witness disclosed that people had attempted crossing the barricaded point but were prevented by the security forces. She intimated that there were concerns as to why the community was not informed in advance to enable the residents prepare for the quarantine and the curfew.
The lady revealed that at the time of the shooting she had seen Shaki Kamara moving up and down. She asserted that Shaki was shot twice and that the security forces had prevented people who wanted to help him. The witness accentuated that the soldiers had later dragged Shaki towards the barbed wire to appear as though he had been wounded from the barbed wire. The lady, who claimed to have observed the action through the holes in the walls of her house, disclosed that the soldiers had attempted putting her out of the house when she began shouting that Shaki was not wounded by the barbed wire. She revealed that as the soldiers shot, they picked up the empty shells. The witness explained that though she did not know the person who had fired Shaki, yet, she could recognize him if brought before her. She stated that she knew the soldier who was the Joint Security Commander during the shooting.
Regarding the root cause of the shooting, the witness explained that the attempt by the Commissioner of West Point, Madam Miatta Flowers, to evacuate her family members from the quarantined community had triggered the public protest that resulted in the shooting. She alleged that the soldiers had started the shooting before the police came into the picture. The lady explained that the late Shaki had been predeceased by his parents and was therefore living with his grandmother.
Augustine J. Nagbe (aka General Power)’s Accounts of the Shooting Incident:
Augustine J. Nagbe informed the hearing that the Commissioner of West Point, Ms. Miatta H. Flowers, was requested on the day of the imposition of the quarantine (August 20, 2014) to carry along with her sixteen persons from the township to attend a scheduled meeting at the GSA with the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Lewis Brown, and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Morris M. Dukuly. The witness asserted that while preparation was underway to facilitate the departure of the fifteen persons who were available for the meeting, they received information that some residents wanted to harm the Township Commissioner. Mr. Nagbe said that he therefore went to the rescue of the Commissioner who had by then been surrounded by about 500 people stopping her from leaving the community. He explained that because of the respect he commands in the township, the crowd immediately broke up at his appearance, enabling him to free the Commissioner from the attack. But Mr. Nagbe explicated that the residents still continued their protest while he led the Commissioner to the checkpoint. This, according to him, prompted the police to intervene by pushing back the protesters, who then resorted to the throwing of stones at the police.
“When the police started pushing them back, then the people started stoning. I saw over 2,000 people at the LEC gate. The police started using teargas but could not contain the crowd. The military came in and first started shooting in the air but one officer shot in the crowd. I called him and talked to him. He was drunk. The military did what they did, but they should not have shot in the crowd,” Augustine Nagbe explained. The witness said he did not recognize the soldier who shot in the crowd, though he claimed to have spoken to him and picked up the empty shells from his gun. “General Power” added that the soldiers did not receive any orders to shoot because there was no “rule of engagement”. Although he pledged to help in identifying the shooter in question, the witness however did not think that the gun used by the soldier could have inflicted the wounds sustained by the late Shaki Kamara. “AK-47 round cannot burst a human foot,” Mr. Nagbe said, implying that the soldier he saw fire Shaki had used an AK-47 riffle. He named the Winchester, G-3 and L-A-R as guns that could cause such wounds. The witness revealed that even though some of the police officers were armed with Winchesters and other guns, they did not shoot. He observed that Shaki Kamara died from profuse bleeding because he had not been given any first aid medical treatment.
When quizzed if he was ever a General in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the witness answered in the negative, but claimed to be working in the security apparatus. He said that he had previously worked in the employ of the Ministry of National Security (MNS) as a “Chief of Special Operations”. The number of the identity card that he claimed to have been issued to him by the MNS read “0559”. Mr. Nagbe asserted that he currently works with the Ministry of Justice as its representative on the National Task Force on Ebola. “I worked with the Ministry of National Security; but it closed down its operations and so they recommended me to the Ministry of Justice,” the witness intimated.
The witness pointed out that as a result of the riot staged by the West Pointers and the subsequent shooting incident, neither the Commissioner of the Township, Madam Miatta H. Flowers, nor Ministers Lewis Brown and Morris M. Dukuly had attended the planned meeting at the GSA. The witness accused the community stakeholders whom were selected for the GSA meeting of having incited the residents against the Commissioner. But contrary to Mr. Nagbe’s claim that the meeting was not held, some of the community stakeholders told the INCHR that they had participated in the meeting. The stakeholders also said Ministers Lewis Brown and Morris M. Dukuly had attended the meeting from start to end, while the Commissioner later joined them in the middle of the discussion. The Commissioner also allegedly spoke to a crew of journalists at the close of the meeting pertinent to the violent incident.
Asked if he knew where Commissioner Flowers lived, the witness said the Commissioner lived in the market area in West Point. He however alleged that the Commissioner had asked him to drive her to another place in central Monrovia after she was rescued from the scene of the August 20, 2014 pandemonium. Mr. Nagbe said he did not have any weapon with him during the West Point crisis, but specifically accused Mr. Washington Blay (former player of the Liberia national football team) of being one of the persons bent on tarnishing his reputation.
a) The Version of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Hospital
A three-man delegation from the John F. Kennedy Hospital headed by the Chief Medical Officer, appeared before the Board of Commissioner of the INCHR to give their account of the situation of the three wounded victims of the August 20 West Point shooting incident. Accordingly, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) recounted that on August 20, three patients were taken to the Administration Building of the JFK Hospital at about 2:00 pm. by a military informer and a journalist. The CMO intimated that when the military personnel had requested an audience and informed him of the presence of three wounded patients for treatment, he told him (the soldier) that the hospital closed and therefore could not accept any patients.
“I told him that the hospital was closed. I explained that the Trauma Section, Internal Medicine, the Surgical Department, and the Emergency Rooms were closed; there were no medical practitioners and no medications. These facilities had been closed by July. We indicated to them that only the Pediatric Ward, which could not handle the current emergency, was functional at the time,” the CMO said.
The witness narrated that on that note the two men had left, but not too long the journalist returned with another military officer (a Captain) and insisted that the hospital receive and treat the patients. The CMO testified that as they insisted on the impossibility of responding to the situation under the then prevailing circumstances, the soldier and the journalist forcefully deposited the patients in the corridors of the Administration Building of the hospital. He also accused the journalist of being “ruthless” and of having injured him on the leg. The witness said that he and his colleagues began to wonder why the two men had to carry the patients to the Administration Building, when they had earlier taken patients to the appropriate sections of the hospital. He pointed out that they had asked the men as to why the three patients were not taken to either the S.D.A. Cooper Clinic or the Redemption Hospital.
The witness continued that after the soldier and the journalist had left, he and other Administrators had instructed everybody on duty to put on their Personal Protective Equipment to respond to the emergency. “We put them in wheel chairs and the JFK emergency staff came and helped. We administered some sugar and soda taken from the General Administrator’s fridge. We also established an IV line and administered drips. Since there were no doctors, it was difficult to assess what types of wounds they had,” the CMO told the hearing.
The witness further explained that the having been contacted and informed of the situation, the Health Minister, Dr. Gwenigale, ordered the Chief Medical Doctor, Dr. Bernice Dahn, to handle the case. He said Health Ministry had provided an ambulance that took the three wounded patients to the Redemption Hospital.
Asked why the JFK Hospital could not provide an ambulance, the Chief Medical Officer disclosed that the hospital’s lone ambulance had been down, and was still inoperative as of October 3, the date of the testimony. According to the witness, the three patients were alert and talking up to the time of their transfer to the Redemption Hospital. He recalled that it had taken an interval of 45 minutes between the time of their arrival at the JFK and their transfer to the Redemption Hospital.
Testimony of an Ambulance Driver
Mr. Gordon Kamara is the driver of Rep Saa Joseph’s Ambulance code-named “Responder 2” and Deputy Supervisor of the Ambulance Team.
In his testimony, Mr. Gordon Kamara explained that he and another workmate had received a call to pick up some patients in West Point. The witness said that on reaching to the Waterside area while en route to West Point, they observed that the place had been abandoned, except for the soldiers who had been deployed near the sub-branch of the ECO-Bank located at the junction of the road leading to West Point and the UN Drive. Mr. Kamara narrated that when the soldiers told him and his workmate that the patients in question were wounded persons, he had refused to put them on the ambulance because it was their line of duty to collect only sick people. The witness said that the soldiers then insisted that the ambulance would not be allowed to leave unless the wounded persons, who then lied on the ground bleeding, were put on board and taken to a hospital for treatment. He stated that as a result of the adamant stance of the soldiers, they subsequently put the victims in the ambulance but insisted that the soldiers provided an escort for them. Mr. Kamara disclosed that after about 45 minutes of argument occasioned by the soldiers’ refusal to escort them, the victims were finally driven off and taken to the JFK Hospital under the escort of a white Nissan Patrol jeep occupied by some soldiers and a journalist. He recalled that a Military Police Commander named Col. Saa was on the scene and that Shaki Kamara was one of the wounded.
The witness however recounted that upon arrival at the JFK Hospital, the security guards at the entrance of the hospital had refused to allow them in, prompting the soldiers who were on the escort jeep to open the gate. He said more frustratingly, the nurses had informed them that the hospital was not admitting patients. He indicated that when it became obvious that even negotiation with some administrators could not reverse the decision not to admit the patients, they could not but put them down in the corridors of the Administration Building of the hospital. The witness averred that at that junction the soldiers had left while he washed the ambulance of blood.
“The soldiers left me there. It was raining. Then the people at the JFK said that we should take the patients back or else we would not leave. I said the soldiers were responsible for the patients because they had just asked us to carry them to the hospital. So we also left later on,” the witness stated. He alleged that the nurses and the soldiers had earlier argued for about thirty minutes when they arrived at the hospital.
Mr. Gordon Kamara further told the Board of Commissioners that some of the hospitals in Monrovia had already begun rejecting patients before the West Point shooting incident. He mentioned the ELWA, Benson and Catholic Hospitals as being among the health institutions that had since begun the rejection of patients. “The Catholic Hospital rejected patients from me three times,” he concluded. The witness was accompanied by the driver of Representative Saah Joseph’s Ambulance code-named “First Responder-1”.
Photos from the Scene of the Shooting
Photos Presented by the
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
‘Dark Moment’ of the West Point Quarantine
A Report by
The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR)
Submitted to: The Government and People of Liberia
October 28, 2014