Former Information Minister, Emmanuel Z. Bowier
‘Pres. Tolbert Did Not Issue Shoot To Kill Order’ - Bowier
By Prince Nagbe
MONROVIA, April 17 (LINA) – Former Information Minister Emmanuel Z. Bowier has clarified that former President William R. Tolbert did not pass any “shoot and kill” order during the infamous April 14, 1979 rice riots, as claimed in some quarters.
Bowier made the statement at a panel discussion on the topic “What led to the rice riot and how Liberians can avoid the recurrence of such” held at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing in Monrovia on Thursday.
He was reacting to claims by Samuel P. Jackson, a staunch supporter of the erstwhile Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL). Jackson was among opposition figures jailed by the Tolbert government.
According to Bowier, President Tolbert in the month of April gave the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) L$6,000 to hold its conference on Cuttington College campus in Suakoko, Bong County.
Bowier told journalists at the forum that on the day of the riot, the President Tolbert shed tears when he learned that two students were shot and killed.
“I did not tell you to shoot the people’s children. Why did you have to kill them,” Tolbert said, according to Bowier.
Bowier said, on the eve of the riot, he and Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, former Assistant Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, wrote a letter calling on those who were behind the demonstration to call it off.
He called on the panelists and all of those who were part of what he termed “all the trouble around here to sit and talk so that when they die they will not be remembered for something wrong.”
Bowier thanked the Ministry of Information for organizing such a unique discussion that reflects Liberia’s past and how the things that have gone wrong can be corrected through such discussions.