The Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL), Emmanuel Gonquoi and others have been adjudged guilty for inflicting wounds on security guards and instigating other unwholesome acts during a protest at Capitol Building. But, Gopnquoi immediately announced an Appeal to the Circuit Court.
Judge Jomah Jallah handed down the guilty verdict on Monday, October 25, 2021 when he made the final ruling into the case, and requested the Clerk to communicate with the department of Probation at the Ministry of Justice, to conduct a pre-sentencing investigation within ten days.
According to Judge Jallah, during a pretrial conference, the defendants admitted to the crimes and pleaded for mercy.
For his part, EFFL CIC Gonquoi says he expected nothing less than what the Judge did, as the George Weah led administration frowns at freedom of expression.
Gonquoi and others were arrested in August this year, for staging a protest at the Capitol Building, in demand for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court.
The government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice alleged that during the EFFL protest, they rained insults publicly and intentionally broke the lock before installing their own chains with locks with the intent to terrorize the public, staff, and employees which led the government to file in a complaint against the group to the Stipendiary Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court.
The court then ordered the arrest of the Commander-in-Chief of the EFFL and others who participated in the protest on grounds of the Capitol Building.
According to court documents, the action of the EFFL leader and others is unlawful, wicked, illegal, violent, and intentional. The writ also said, the EFFL member’s action violates sections 11.16 of the amended act, section 14.21 and 17.3 of the new penal law of Liberia there and then the crime herein.
The court writ stayed: “You are hereby commanded to arrest the living bodies of Emmanuel Gonquoi and others to be identified, and forthwith bring them before the Monrovia City Court, Temple of Justice to answer to the charge of terroristic threats, simple assault, felonious restraint, and disorderly conduct”.
The writ stated further that during the period of July 21, 2021, at about 5:30 AM, in the area of the Capitol Hill/Capitol Bypass, city of Monrovia, Montserrado County, Republic of Liberia, Gonquoi, and others being a group dressed in red T-shirts said to have come from the economic Freedom fighters headed by Gonquoi went on the premises of the Capitol Building and purposely with violence attacked the gate of the Capitol Building opposite the Executive Mansion. Accordingly, they beat and inflicted wounds and injuries on the security guards assigned there.
The writ also said the alleged act of the Gonquoi and others being unlawful, wicked, illegal, violent, and international is in violation of sections 11.16 of the amended act, section 14.21 and 17.3 of the new penal law of Liberia there and then the crime herein did and commit.
Gonquoi and his men were then charged with Terroristic threats, Simple assault, Felonious restraint, and Disorderly conduct.
It can be recalled that the EFFL leader and his group members placed the Capitol Building gate under siege on July 22, 2021, thereby locking the two entrances to the building, something, which was seen as a terroristic act.
Gonquoi had gone to lock the gate of the Capitol and when a call was placed for backup, they fled the scene.
They stormed the Legislature at dawn, calling on Legislators to return US$30,000 they received for Legislative engagements.
The EFFL members then locked the main entrance of the Legislature for a short while and later escaped as a result of intervention by the Liberia National Police.
The incident led to a scuffle between the securities assigned at the capitol and the members of the EFFL as a result some of the securities sustaining injuries.
The Sergeant-At-Arms of the House of Representatives then ordered the arrest of Gonquoi for alleged act of terrorism.
Addressing the media, the Sergeant-At-Arms, Martin Johnson said Gonquoi needed to explain why he besieged the Capitol Building and prevented Legislators’ entry to their offices.
Meanwhile in response, Gonquoi described his arrest ordered by the Legislature as a show off or political grandstanding.
According to Gonquoi, his protest action was intended to restore transparency at the Liberian legislature.
The EFFL leader described the Legislators as terrorists due to what he calls their several acts of corruption over the years.
He said his institution had no regret over its protest action and was prepared to repeat similar action if lawmakers fail to return the money.