As the year 2016 closes its door, there were lots of sorrowful moments which brought tears to many including the brutal murder of the former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), Harry Greaves, Jr.
Mr. Harry A. Greaves Jr., according to sources was dropped off by his driver at the RLJ Hotel off the Robertsfield highway sometime Friday. The former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company reportedly instructed his driver to wait for him, that he would be right back.
As the night lingered, investigators say, Mr. Greaves did not return from the hotel. The driver, investigators say reportedly slept in the car until the next morning.
Investigators told reporters that Sunday that the next day, some of Mr. Greaves belongings were found on the beach behind the hotel as search commenced for his whereabouts.
The Police investigation together with the final report of the autopsy conducted on the body of Mr. Greaves, on February 8, 2016, established that the cause of death is as a result of asphyxiation by salt water drowning.
The conclusion of Police investigations and the autopsy report are also consistent with findings of the Special Investigating Team from the United States of America, which concludes that Mr. Harry Greaves died by drowning.
Ms. Victoria Zayzay Mysterious Death
Another mysterious death that drew public concern is Ms. Victoria Zayzay, who investigators said died of hanging.
Victoria Zayzay was briefly detained in the female holding cell at the Zone 6, Police Depot 1 Substation pending court action, where she was later discovered hanging unconsciously on the cell gate, tied with a wrapper (lappa) around her neck.
The final report of the autopsy conducted on the body of the Late Victoria Zayzay on February 8, 2016, also concludes that Victoria died as a result of asphyxiation by hanging and that there is no physical or forensic evidence that Victoria Zayzay was physically assaulted around the time of her death.
UL Students Protest Overwhelmed Capitol Building
During the year under review, over 400 students of the University of Liberia (UL) forcibly entered the premises of the Capitol Building to protest against what they see as the “dormancy of the Legislature to probe and take action” against a tuition increase from approximately US$2 to US$4.
The students were also protesting against the increment of UL’s allotment, despite their April 19 proposal not to increase the allotment unless the tuition hike was cancelled.
The students entered the rotunda of the Legislature, singing: “Mamie water will carry them,” for about 10 minutes as they paraded around the building.
One of the students, who claimed to be the spokesperson, but begged reporters not to be named, said their protest will continue in order to compel Legislators to probe into the UL tuition dispute, adding that there should be no increase of the UL allotment in the 2016/2017 National Budget, because the money would be used “inappropriately.”
“There is no need to increase the UL’s allotment if the tuition is increased; but the allotment can be increased if their tuition remains at L$175, which is approximately US$2,” the ‘spokesperson’ said.
The protest was climaxed with throwing of stones when the students were dispersed by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
It may be recalled that on April 19, hundreds of UL students petitioned the Legislature to prevail on the UL administration not to increase their tuition.
The UL administration recently announced through its Board of Trustees the increment of credit hour fees for undergraduate programs from L$175 to US$4; and from US$55 to US$75 for the graduate program.
The students say the increments are too high and are accusing the UL administration of attempting to disallow underprivileged students their basic constitutional right to an education.
The petition, presented by the president of the UL Student Union (ULSU), Mr. Daniel Woart, said: “ULSU sees this astronomical increment in tuition highly inconceivable to accept given the current devastating state of the national economy over the past four fiscal periods. This imposition, in our opinion, is a concoction aimed at depriving thousands of underprivileged students the chance to continue their academic sojourn at the University of Liberia.”
The aggrieved students called on the National Legislature to consider their constitutional responsibilities and other obligations related to public education stated in Article 6 of the Liberian Constitution, Article 26 of the Declaration of Human Rights and Article 1, Sections A, B, C and D of the Charter of the University of Liberia. They also berated the legislators for increasing the budget of the university to US$29m during the fiscal budgetary allotment period.
The UL administration, on announcing the increments, cited the major financial constraint it faces as a factor for the poor quality of services and in some cases, the unavailability of some services at the university.
If the tuition increments take effect, a sum of US$1.3 million will be raised and this will take the university’s budget up to US$16.3 million, but still leave a deficit of US$12.7m to reach US$29 million needed to run the country’s premier government runs institution of higher learning.
Presently, the university runs on a US$15.1 million budget which, if raised to at least US$29 million, will help to alleviate the many shortcomings listed by the students in their petition, UL officials said.
The students, in their three page petition read by their interim leadership (ULSIL), cited the lack of internet service, poor infrastructure, inadequately equipped laboratories and unaffordable transportation to and from the campuses, among the deficiencies at the university, which do not warrant the tuition hike.
Another complaint put forward by the students is the lack of internship opportunities for graduating students.
Receiving the petition from the students, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler assured the students that he would present the petition to plenary for their timely consideration.
Death struck Liberian media
17 Liberian journalists during the year, 2016 lost their lives to death including Liberia’s talk show host, Mamadee Diakate, Lawrence Randall, Prof. James Wolo, Moses Sonkarlay, Paul Allen Wie, Itricia Ceimon, and many others who lost their lives to death.
The Removal Of Speaker Tyler
Also during the year, 2016, the Capitol Building was the hottest spot as the removal of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Alex Tyler following his alleged link to the Stable Mining bribery scandal.
During this in-house battle between the ‘Pro Tyler’ and the Anti Tyler, at the end his removal was overwhelmed this which subsequently led the election of a new speaker, Emmanuel J. Nuquay.