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In the early morning hours of 12 April 2019, Oliver Papee Dillon was accosted by three strangers while walking home in the crime-infested Gardnersville Supermarket area of Liberia. While two of the men approached Oliver in a threatening manner, the other brandished a pair of scissors with which he attempted to attack him. Oliver pulled out a knife to warm his assailants, but they remained undeterred. A scuffle ensued and the man with scissors was stabbed twice.

Oliver’s attackers fled the scene, but in their wake they encouraged an angry mob to kill him. He ran to a nearby motel for safety, called the police and turned himself in. Since the morning of the attempted armed robbery, Oliver has languished in Monrovia Central Prison. The man who was stabbed eventually died and was buried, but his two co-conspirators are missing in action. It remains unclear what they were doing in the vicinity of the attack on 12 April. Oliver was granted bail on 7 May 2019, but the ruling was strangely overturned by a Supreme Court Justice.

Before 12 April, Oliver had no criminal record or prior arrests. In fact, he was a law-abiding coordinator for decentralization at the ministry of transport. Because of his no-nonsense, by-the-book service delivery, the Government of Liberia was able to raise millions of Liberian dollars in revenue from the registration of private and commercial vehicles.

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the recent spate of violence in Liberia against innocent civilians. In early May 2019, a man was stabbed to death with scissors two blocks from where Oliver was accosted on 12 April. The victim’s assailants made away with his phone and they are still at large.

We believe that citizens have a right to defend themselves and that they should be entitled to legal recourse. Given the particular circumstances of Oliver’s case, we believe very strongly that the Government of Liberia must #FreeOliverDillon until he can be granted a fair trial.