Monrovia- Three major events are happening almost simultaneously in Liberia. In March of this year, the deadly Ebola virus had hit Liberia. By August, the outbreak was almost uncontrollable bringing the entire nation to a standstill. With international goodwill, heroic efforts of healthcare workers and a change in attitude towards the virus by Liberians, the trend is slowing. While Liberians are trying to shake off the dust from their feet and look ahead, there is a challenge of elections.Traditionally, Elections have been a source of enormous crowd pulling and tension, with supporters of political parties and Independent candidates negating the issues at bay and thriving on trivialities. Due to the outbreak of Ebola, the initial date for elections was postponed to December 16. A writ of prohibition by some citizens further pushed the date to December 20, just five days short of the Christmas Celebration. The Christmas festivities are marred by huge influx of people from across the country, descending on the capitol to shop for the holidays. Elections and Christmas combined would mean a double effect of citizens’ amalgamation hustling and bustling for competing needs.There are genuine fears that the mass movement of people as an effect of elections and shopping for the Christmas holidays might reignite the outbreak that took tears, sweat, blood and lives to reverse.As the effect of the Ebola outbreak showed, it has the proclivity to bring an entire nation to its knees and shatter every single gain made. Ebola has proved to be a serial killer that has successfully preyed on its victims. It brought to near collapse an already frailed healthcare system, nearly wrecked an economy, shut down schools, cut off a nation from most parts of the world and exposed a people to great stigmatization. These are scary signals that need not relapse. The downward trigger effect of another outbreak is synonymous to the effects of a civil war. We simply cannot afford it. Policy makers and politicians must realize that the common interest of the nation rests in its political stability, resuscitated economy and the health of its citizenry. Everything else is secondary. As Ebola has shown, great gains can be reversed in days and months when caution is left to uncertainty. Another outbreak is suicidal and we cannot afford the shock. There are reports of supporters of political parties marching in streets, hanging on jammed parked vehicles and huge gathering of people in a show of numerical strength. Rival groups have engaged in street fighting thus exposing each other to unnecessary touching and sharing of bodily fluids. This is foolhardy for a nation that has shut down schools across the country, instructing every home to keep a bucket of clean water for regular washing of hands and asking the world to help us out.Politicians are obliged to caution their supporters to see the effect of Ebola not only as a health epidemic, but also a national security concern. It could possibly undermine the purpose for which they are striving to get elected. Significant gains seem to be made in the fight against Ebola in Liberia, thus making us a model and a success story in the region. Liberian health care workers and care givers were amongst the 2014 personalities of TIME magazine, with Dr. Jerry Brown of the ELWA hospital named personality of the year .In her reason why the Ebola fighters are TIME’s choice for the person of the year, Editor Nancy Gibbs is quoted as saying, ‘They risked and persisted, sacrificed and saved.’ She quotes a proverb that ‘Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, says the proverb, but rather the hero’s heart’. She goes on ‘But 2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one’.We have to sustain the fight. The war is still on. The effect of Ebola has left several kids orphaned, families completely broken, rise in unemployment, cultural adjournment, and emotional scars.When the dust settles on December 20, elections would be over, politicians would go on holidays and we will wake up to a nation that had rendered itself vulnerable to a virus that takes no prisoners. Ebola, Elections and Christmas seem a lethal combination when mixed in the same pot. Each has its own challenge and needs to be dished separately. Ebola is the toxic to the mix. Let’s get it out completely. When Ebola flees, we can all laugh aloud and tell a story. Until then, everyone stay put.About the Author:Lekpele Nyamalon is a Liberian and lives in Monrovia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgReferencehttp://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-ebola-fighters-choice/Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Foiled bank robbery… 2 Policemen, others remanded Two Republic Bank employees along with two Policemen and three others who attempted to carry out a daring robbery on the facility were on Friday slapped with several charges including attempted robbery and illegal possession of a firearm with matching ammunition.Those charged are former Republic Bank employees, Jamal Haynes and Shawn Grimond; along with Keron Saunders; Police Constables Anfami Blackman and Gladstone George who all stood before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.Shawn GrimondHaynes, who was also shot during the robbery, had six charges brought against him to which he admitted to four.He admitted to being in possession of a 9mm pistol along with matching ammunition for which he was sentenced to four years and fined $90,000 for each.His sentence for these offences will run concurrently.Haynes further admitted to holding Tendulkar Singh hostage on July 4 at Republic Bank, Water Street, Georgetown and was fined $100,000 or a default of six months imprisonment.The accused also admitted to attempting to rob the said bank, for which he was jointly charged along with Saunders, Blackman, George and Grimond. For this offence he was jailed for two years. However this sentence will run consecutively to the other sentences, and as such, he will spend a total of six years in prison.Jamal HaynesHaynes denied the final two charges brought against him, that of discharging a loaded firearm and of robbery which includes the hijacking of a motorcar.That robbery charge alleged that he on July 3, at Sparendaam, East Cost Demerara, while being in the company of others robbed Ryan Anthony Mayers of a car valued at $2.9 million, a cellphone and $19,000. He was remanded to prison on that offence and is to return to the Sparendaam Magistrates’ Courts on August 10 for that matter.During the attempted robbery, Elton Wray, an agronomist, was shot dead by Police.On Friday his cousin, Keron Saunders, had two additional charges read to him – the first charge detailed that on July 4 at Water Street, he had in his possession ten 9MM rounds of ammunition without being a holder of an ammunition licence and also on the same day at the same location, he was found to be in possession of one Taurus pistol without being the holder of a firearm licence.Keron SaundersMeanwhile, when given a chance to speak, Haynes, the bank employee explained that he was not the mastermind and was unaware that Wray, who was killed during the shootout, was planning to rob the bank.He revealed that he was told that they were going to rob someone who was going to be making a large deposit but it was only until they arrived at the financial institution that he realised that they were going to rob the bank.He explained that on the morning of the incident, the guns were given to them by Police Constable Blackman, who was wearing a disguise and who subsequently transported them to the scene.Haynes further stated that after the robbery did not go as planned, he surrendered and yelled to the Police “I am a staff, do not shoot” but took his colleague hostage as Police Officers and security continued to shoot at him.He added that he was able to evade Police for a short while and made his way to the Arcade, Water Street, Georgetown but was however apprehended.Haynes told the court that the gun that was in his possession was given to him by Wray but had no bullets and as such he did not use it.However, contrary to Haynes claims, it was reported by Police that Haynes and Grimond, knew that businesses would have deposited substantial amounts of cash into the chutes during night deposits.Anfami BlackmanAs such, the plan was hatched for the robbers to grab that money which would have been emptied into a canister by a female employee.However, things went awry when the trio broke into the bank on the morning in question, without knowing that they had received a text message from Grimond who was already at work informing them to hold off since the employee who was supposed to open the canister was not at work.At around 07:30h on July 4, Police received a report of a robbery on RBL and responded promptly. The bandits engaged the officers in a shootout which resulted in the death of 23-year-old Wray.Haynes was also shot as he attempted to evade the lawmen. Saunders subsequently surrendered and was taken into Police custody.The others were all implicated in the robbery by Haynes and were later arrested by members of the Major Crime Unit.