The Executive Officer of the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in Bong County, Captain Francis Gbodi, has apologized to citizens of Wainsue for the brutality AFL soldiers meted out on them. There was a standoff on Saturday between citizens of Wainsue and members of the AFL Engineering Company assigned at the Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Gbarnga.
Wainsue is few miles away from Gbarnga along the road leading to Lofa County. According to eyewitnesses, the commotion started on Friday when a female AFL officer in civilian clothes visited the town and had a misunderstanding with Lincoln Namakpeah, a citizen of the town. Following a tussle between the AFL personnel and Namakpeah, she reportedly made a phone call to the barracks and some AFL soldiers immediately went to the town in the military vehicle assigned to the barracks and beat up some of the citizens. On Saturday morning, the AFL soldiers again went to Wainsue, this time in military attire, according to the citizens. The citizens told a fact-finding team, comprising AFL officials and Bong County officials Sunday, that the soldiers beat them and took them to the police station in Gbarnga for “beating an AFL officer.” The victims of the soldiers’ actions said they lost several valuables, including goods, cash, and mobile phones during the melee with the soldiers. During a fact finding meeting on Sunday in Wainsue, Captain Francis Gbodi said it was wrong for the military personnel to have gone to the town and beat up peaceful citizens, even if one of them was offended. “We came here and brutalized your people; we are wrong for what we did, and that was the reason we came here today to find out what happened,” Captain Gbodi said to the citizens. Captain Gbodi said he was doing an official report to the Ministry of Defense to inform the Minister and other officials of the Army of the situation in Wainsue for speedy investigation. Also in attendance at the meeting was Bong County Electoral District Number Three Representative George Mulbah, who is Chairperson of the House Committee on National Defense. Wainsue is in Electoral District Three, which George Mulbah represents in the Legislature. Representative Mulbah said it was “unthinkable” that the soldiers on whom huge amounts of money have been used for their training will be brutal to such extent. Mulbah observed that Liberia is gearing up for a crucial electoral process and that citizens depend on the military and other security institutions to sustain the peace in the country. He said the AFL soldier who had the misunderstanding with the citizens of Wainsue should have taken her case to the police, instead of calling other soldiers to “terrorize” peaceful citizens. Meanwhile, the Superintendent of Bong County, Selena Polson Mappy, has described the actions of the soldiers as “unacceptable.” “We should be building bridges, we should be mending the broken pieces, we should not be scattering them, especially in this period we find ourselves as a country where our governance system is to soon experience a transition,” Mappy told the gathering. She said the citizens depend on the security for the transition and peace of the country. She apologized to the citizens, especially the victims, and called on them to be truthful about materials and funds they claimed were missing during the standoff. Some citizens of Wainsue, predominantly young people, set roadblocks on Saturday, burning tires on the main road. They said their action was meant to “call government’s attention to their plight” and launch a speedy investigation into the actions of the AFL soldiers. The leadership of the AFL at the Camp Tubman Military Barracks, the Bong County Police Detachment and Assistant Superintendent for Development of Bong, Anthony Sheriff, later intervened to quiet the rampaging youth.