Magistrates In Blame Game -Over Sheriff Hills’ Death By: Yassah J Wright

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Magistrates assigned at the Clay Ashland Magisterial Court in Electoral District # 17, Clay Ashland, Montserrado County,  have now begun engaging in blame game regarding the authorized detention and subsequent death of the late Andrew Hills, Sheriff of the Clay Ashland Magisterial Court. Family said that Hills was on his way to make an arrest when he was involved in an accident that left him injured. Despite his injuries, he was taken into custody and placed behind bars at the Zone Six Police Depot in Brewerville under the mandate of Augustine Togba, Stipendiary Magistrate at the court. They further indicated that Magistrate Togba instructed his Associate Magistrate Benetta Y. Gedeo to place the sheriff in prison on grounds that the deceased was given Eight hundred Liberian Dollars (800 LD) as transportation fees to go and execute an arrest, but never executed court’s functions until two weeks when family members went at the court to ask for an excuse. When all efforts by family members to remedy the situation became worthless, the late Andrew Hills spent three days behind bars (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and later died in prison on Sunday morning due to his critical condition.   What has caused even more outrage is the handling of Hills’ body after his death. Magistrate Togbah has been accused of taking the body to the John F. Kennedy Memorial (JFK) Hospital without the consent of deceased’s family. When the family was asked to retrieve the body, they refused and demanded justice for the deceased. Speaking in a telephone conversation with the In-profile Daily Reporter, Wednesday, June 5, 2024, Magistrate Togba, Stipendiary Magistrate of Clay Ashland Magisterial Court who was accused of instructing the detention of Sheriff Hills after being informed that he was ill, he denied the allegations and said that he did not at any point in time instruct anyone to put Mr. Hills in prison.

Magistrate Togba recommended that we contact Associate Magistrate Benetta Y.Gedeo who he said can better explain and speak to the subject matter. while debunking that he did not mandated Associate Magistrate Gedeo to retain Sheriff Hills when they have concurrent jurisdiction. ‘’ I did not order or instruct Andrew Hills to be placed behind bars. It is Magistrate Gedeo, not me. You can call the family to give you her number to call but, it is not me and she will speak to that. How do I give mandate or instruction to another magistrate when we all have concurrent jurisdiction, which means we all have the same power. So, the information that they are giving that I gave mandate to her is not true and so, let them give you her number.’’ Magistrate Togbah clarified. When contacted through telephone conversation, minutes after hanging the calls, Associate Magistrate Benetta Y.Gedeo said  she cannot speak to anything that has to do with the death of Sheriff Hill therefore , there is no comment, on grounds that the Chief Justice is investigating the matter because it is before her and she has taken jurisdiction of it. ‘’Excuse me, did I heard you saying you are judicial reporter? So then, I guess you understand the procedure and the protocol right. You want to get information on something from the court so procedurally, it is the Chief Justice’s Office that you should be asking because she has taken control of the matter. Please go to her office for any information. They told us not to make any comment’’ she angrily off the phone in our reporter ear. Speaking in a telephone conversation with In-profile Daily Reporter, the deceased older son, Abenego Hills said his father was sick and he along with his dad after his first treatment at the Clinic went the court to informed his boss about his sickness when Magistrate Togba instructed that he be placed behind bar. He asserted that based upon that, Associate Magistrate Gedeo ordered a bike and his father was taken to the Zone Six Deport, where he spent three days and later died in the Police cell when his younger brother visited. ‘’ My Younger brother went to visit our father on Sunday to give him food, the police officer on duty demanded four hundred Liberia Liberia Dollars (LD$400) because it was late However, he gave her three hundred Liberian Dollars (LD$300). When he got at the cell, he shouted our father name and he did not answer. Later one of the inmate told us that he is dead. The inmate said that he was trembling and fume was coming out his mouth they call the police people but, they didn’t help until he did’’ she stated. ‘’ we are calling for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding our father death and for those responsible to be held accountable. We are also seeking justice for the mistreatment of his body and the lack of transparency at which the case is currently proceeding. The matter is before the Liberia National Police and the Supreme Court’’ he stated.   Unfortunately, he said that they received called from Magistrate Tigbah calling them for a meeting at JFK, when they go there, he told them to take their body for burial but, they refused on grounds that they need investigation and so they reported the matter to the police. ‘’ So, on Tuesday, we went at the Court they collected statement from us and got the medical report where our father was taking his medication and it was established that he was sick. Also, the police left them written note. Now, after all that they said they will get back to us. But, we heard that the magistrate is undergoing investigation’’ he concluded.

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