On January 26, 2020, bodyguards of Liberian President George Weah assaulted Zenu Koboi Miller, a local broadcast journalist, as he was leaving the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sport Stadium in Monrovia, the capital, where he had covered the final of a national soccer tournament, according to a Facebook post by the journalist, local journalists who spoke to CPJ, and a statement by the Press Union of Liberia, an independent organization for media professionals in the country.
On February 15, Miller died in a hospital in Monrovia, according tolocal news reports.
In the January 26 attack, officers of Weah’s Executive Protection Service shoved and hit Miller, the host of the current affairs show “OK Afternoon Conversation” on independent radio station OK FM 99.5, and one of them hit him on his side with the butt of a gun, according to local freelance journalist Moses Garzeawu, who spoke to Miller after the attack and recounted the conversation to CPJ in a phone interview.
Miller also described the attack to another local journalist, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. That journalist said the bodyguards attacked Miller after he attempted to speak to Trokon Roberts, the head of the Executive Protection Service. After the guards blocked Miller from approaching Roberts, Miller tried to get to his own car, but they stopped him again, the journalist said. Miller protested and the guards “started hitting him, pushing him from one side to the other, and he was even hit with a gun,” the journalist said.
Miller wrote in a January 27 Facebook post that he had seen a doctor and was suffering from pains in his legs and chest after the “brutal attack.”
In a Facebook post, Miller said Roberts witnessed his “flogging.” CPJ could not find contact information for Roberts. In a phone interview with CPJ, Roberts’ special assistant, Ossel Williams, denied that Executive Protection Service officers assaulted Miller. In a January 27 Facebook post, OK FM news director Trokon Freeman wrote that Roberts told him he had not seen his officers manhandling anybody.
Miller also filed a complaint with the Press Union of Liberia, which held a meeting with police leadership on January 30 and called for a transparent investigation into the Executive Protection Service officers’ actions, according to a statement by the union.
Miller died on February 15 after complaining of numbness in his left arm and legs, his father Fokpa Miller told CPJ by phone on February 19.