Mr. Leroy Archie Ponpon, who is also a rights advocate during the late morning hours of Monday, November 2, 2020, set himself at blaze on the ground of the Temple of Justice after he was served with a writ of arrest by the Republic of Liberia by and thru the Ministry of Justice following allegation he(Archie)made that Chief Justice, Francis S. Kpokpor wants to have him executed. The Temple of Justice, which is situated on Capitol Hill Monrovia, houses the Supreme Court of Liberia, auxiliary courtrooms, and legal offices.
Based on the ALLEGATION, the Chief Justice wrote the Ministry of Justice to investigate the matter and Ponpon was suspended and ordered to stay away from the court yard until investigation into the allegation is concluded. It all started when the aggrieved judicial workers demanded their 12-month Liberian Dollars salary. This prompted the Minister of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning(MFDP) , Samuel Tweah, Jr. to pay them three months.
During series of protests, Archie accused Chief Justice Kpokpor of sending unknown persons to kill him. On October 27, 2020, Archie wrote a communication to the court administrator and the deputy personal director, informing them about a protestation to set himself at blaze.
"I am prepared to set myself ablaze.No amount of pressure will change my protest action for November 8, 2020 if you think and see no reason to drop your actions toward the Union of Aggrieved Judicial Workers Membership who all form part of the many protest actions and my suspension. And we remain defiant and owe you no apology," he wrote. "Before those of my supporters get dismissed and lose the fruit of their labor, I will commit suicide or set myself on fire with gas,” he said. “Remember that the future of our children rest in God's hands and that he saves you and your generation as they eat the fruit of our hands labor in peace.See me more after November 8, 2020, after 10: 00am when history will remind both of us. Letting the world know that you were informed early, which speaks of your lack of every sense of decency," Archie asserted.
According to him, the action wouldn’t had been an individual cause, but about the entire leadership and those 19 judiciary workers who were also suspended after the recent protest. Accordingly, in fulfillment of his action, he did not wait until November 8, but went to the court yard as early as November 2, 2020, where he was served the judicial notice before subsequently setting himself ablaze with gasoline and matches. The gruesome incident drew the attention of scores of judicial workers and others who had gone to court for legal proceedings as well as passersby. However, Archie was rescued as several persons rushed on him with buckets of water and wasted it on him.
Archie, who sustained major wounds, was later rushed to the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Hospital. He is reportedly facing serious medical complication. Archie is on record for leading several advocacies, including the gay/lesbian rights, staging a three-day hunger strike at the United States Embassy near Monrovia in demand of President George Manneh Weah to declare his assets in keeping with the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and lying under the vehicle tyre of Chief Justice Kpokpor to demand justice for judicial workers. Meanwhile, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), has described the incident as unprecedented.
He said Archie tried to pay a hard price for what he believed in and for what he stood for. The renowned Liberian lawyer stated that there are few people who are like that in society pay any cost especially to give their life for what they strong believe in; however, he said that is an unusual happening for Liberia. "I hope [Ponpon] survives but this is a terrible thing he tried to practice. No historian will write and forget about what happened," he pointed out. He said Archie and some of the aggrieved judicial workers, who were suspended, met with him on Friday, October 30, 2020 to express concern over the manner and form in which they were suspended.
Cllr. Gongloe said he informed them (judicial workers) to do a written communication about their grievances to the Liberia National Bar Association leadership, but surprisingly he got the shocking news. Cllr. Gongloe, a former Minister during the first term regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said there is another need for critical examination of the Liberian society through the issue of the rule of law. “How we respond to leadership; how we hold laws and regulations, how we administer them and the different offices that are given to us by the Constitution and by status all need to be critically looked at,” the Liberian lawyer said. “This call should claim the attention of the whole of the Liberian society; those in government and outside government. This is something that will stimulate to critically examine what is happening in Liberia. In this country people are still traumatized as there was no process of the de-traumatization after the war so it's important for people who are in authority to have some degree of tolerance,” Cllr. Gongloe added.