Since President George M. Weah declared a national state of emergency to be observed throughout the country for 21 days and a stay-home order for 14 days—to be observed in Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru counties—there have been many interpretations as to what the presidential order is, and how state securities are expected to carry out the implementation.
Saturday, April 11, 2020 was the first day the order was implemented, and it seems like some people were caught by surprise. During the early morning hours, cars, tricycles and motorbikes were seen plying the streets and transporting passengers, but this was short-lived as officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) demarcated the city. Cars from central Monrovia were told not to go beyond Vamuma junction and cars from Bushrod Island were told not to cross the two bridges.
The instruction from the LNP suppressed economic activities and compelled many individuals who own businesses beyond these territories to sit home.
At 3 o’clock, the streets of Monrovia became scenes of actions and interactions between state securities, journalists and private citizens. One major scene of attraction observed by the Hot Pepper was between state securities and Montserrado County’s Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon, at a local bar. Officers of the LNP met the lawmaker at the bar, which was said to be closed half-way, as the time was closer to 3pm. However, the officers demanded that the lawmaker get out in order for them to close the shop. A heated argument ensued between the officers and Senator Dillon, with the lawmaker accusing the officers of disrespecting him and having an “opposition” mentality. At the end, the Senator left the scene and the officers closed the shop.
Another scene was when the Director of the Monrovia City Police, Col. Thomas G. Garwo, entered into an argument with the Spokesman of the Joint Security, Moses Carter, about the City Police being part of the joint security. According to Col. Garwo, the City Police is part of the Joint Security, as their names were mentioned by President Weah himself. On the contrary, Spokesman Carter refuted the statement, claiming that the City Police are not part of the Joint Security and so they were not to be enforcing the state of emergency measures.
The Hot Pepper also witnessed a scene where an individual was caught roaming the streets after 3pm and was stopped by the state securities for questioning. The individual said he was on his way to the market to get food for his family, but he was sent back by the securities on grounds that he was not supposed to be outside by that time.
The action of the securities brought panic to Monrovians, which caused the city to completely shut down, as no one wanted to become a victim of security manhandling.
Only a day into the 21 days, Monrovia appears panicked and all hope lost: only a few business centers are open to the public amidst tension from customers and criminals.