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LIBERIA: COURT CHARGED LNP OFFICER KOWO WITH MURDER

By Socrates S. Saywon – The Deputy Police Commander of the Ganta detachment of the Liberia National Police in Nimba County Sgt. Sensee Kowo, who allegedly flogged an 18-year-old motorcyclist Samuel Selleh to death has been indicted by the Grand Jury of Nimba County for the crime of murder, while his Co-defendant Rancy Dolo was charged with Criminal Facilitation, but the court in its ruling said Co-defendant Dolo might be acquitted if he has spent more time in jail than the crime charged.

Howbeit, the case was transferred from the 8th Judicial Circuit in Nimba County to the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County on a change of venue motion prayed for by the defendant, that he wouldn’t get a fair trial due to sentiment.

Judge Joe S. Barkon, however, instructed the court the probation office of Grand Bassa County to investigate the characters of the convicts prior to their sentence hearing, which is slated for Monday, October 19, 2021, after which their sentencing will be subsequently done.

Defendant Kowo is being represented in court by Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson, while the deceased is being represented by the state. The Second Judicial Circuit Court heard the final argument into the matter on Friday, October 8, 2021; the case lasted for about a month. Both the state and defense lawyers were told to send their legal memorandum on or before Wednesday, October 6, 2021, for a final argument into the matter.

When the case was called, the defendant pleaded not guilty to his alleged murder charged, thereby joining the issue with the state.

The trial, which was a bench trial, commenced on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, at the Buchanan Court, with state prosecutors producing two witnesses on the same day after he pleaded not guilty thereby joining the issue with the state.

Furthermore, the state also produced its final two witnesses on Thursday, September 23, 2021and rested with material and documentary evidence with reservation.

After the state rested with evidence on the date mentioned above, the defendant Sense Kowo took the witness stand and testified in his alleged murder case on his behalf, and other witnesses are expected to testify on his behalf.

The Court is expected  to request for extension of the Court’s trial period from the Chief Justice for the conclusion of the case

The casa background

It can be recalled, LNP Commander of the Nimba County detachment, Commissioner Augustine Leo Warri, the 18-year old Motorcyclist identified as Samuel Selleh, a resident of the Peace Community in Ganta, died after a tussle with Commander Kowo.

According to Warri, who then stated that the preliminary investigation, Sgt. Kowo stated that he entered into a fracas with some young men around the Jackie Guest House in Ganta during the late evening hours of Sunday, March 8 after he was called by private security guards assigned there to help them get rid of the young people who were in the constant habit of consuming illegal drugs in the vicinity of the guest house.

He said the 18-year-old man did not die as a result of the tussle, but rather from the stones that were thrown by his colleagues who apparently came in his defense, stating that he did not use excessive force in his attempt to apprehend the deceased.

Commissioner Warri said then, the LNP takes the situation “very seriously” and will ensure an impartial investigation as the situation has the propensity to soil the hard-earned reputation of the Liberia National Police if not handled properly.

Warri noted that to ensure a speedy investigation into the alleged murder case, a team of LNP investigators from the headquarters in Monrovia is due in the county to join ranks with their colleagues on the ground to conduct the probe.

Also speaking to the media, the head of the Nimba Chapter of the Federation of Motor and Tricycle Union of Liberia (FMTUL), Mr. Tony S. Gbeanquoi, called on motorcyclists in the county to exercise restraint as the police look into the issue.

He also urged the motorcyclists to “compose themselves in a way that will send a positive signal about them to the outside world this time around.”

On his part, the father of the deceased, who spoke to journalists in a rather angry mood, said he was shocked upon hearing that his son had been killed by a police officer for being among people taking drugs, as he has never known the boy to be engaged in such practice.

According to Mr. Saye Selleh, his son, a 9th-grade student of the Ganta YMCA High School, became a commercial motorcyclist less than two months ago and has never been involved in any kind of civil disturbance, least to think about going into a confrontation with a police officer.

He said the entire family is struggling to cope with, the loss of his son, and that he will explore all legal avenues to ensure that justice is served in the matter.

The body of Selleh was then deposited at the Gompa Funeral Home in Ganta by authorities of the LNP to be preserved as an investigation into the matter continues.

According to her, little did she know that the two security guards, who were on assignment at the guest house, had already called the Deputy Police commander, Sensee Kowo, who owns and runs the private security firm, Sky Security Guard Service, for which the guards work.

It was believed that somewhere along the guesthouse’s fence, some young men gathered there every evening to smoke and disturb Jackie’s guests. Jackie’s Guest House, on the outskirts of Ganta, is one of the leading guesthouses in the bustling city that never sleeps.

The eyewitness further narrated that they were at the area where the incident occurred near Jackie’s Guest House when the former Police commander (defendant) Sensee Kowo was called by his two private security guards. They told him that some grown-up boys were near the guesthouse and doing something that wasn’t right. The boys can meet to the place to dance and do other things,” she further said.

According to her when Kowo arrived, it was just at that time that the 18-year-old victim and her son were making their way to the other boys.

She further said the Deputy Police Commander wasted no time and without asking he just grabbed Selleh by his neck while his private security friends began to “flog” him.

“When they later left him, he dropped and was then rushed to the E & J Hospital, but was pronounced Dead on arrival eyewitness” Madam Yei explained.

Main photo: Sgt. Sensee Kowo

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