Liberia: Police in Nimba Accused of Using Excessive Force to Enforce Lockdown; Motorcyclist Left Injured
Tappita, Nimba County – Reports from Tappita, Nimba County say officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and the Police Support Unit (PSU) of the Liberian National police assigned in the area to enforce Government’s lockdown mandate have injured a motorcyclist.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
According to the report, Austin Gbor, age 39, suffered a broken arm after he was badly beaten by the security officers in a neighborhood in Tappita for violating the 3 p.m. deadline to get off the streets.
A local official of the area said, the police beat him, broke his arm and abandoned him as he cried for help.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity said, the victim was rescued by community members who rushed him to the Jackson F. Doe Referral Hospital for treatment.
But Police Spokesperson, Moses Carter, quoting the Nimba County Police Commander, said the motorcyclist got injured while running from the police, and the police did not intentionally injured him.
Carter said the injured motorcyclist is now in stable condition and the police is cooperating with the family to ensure he gets the proper treatment.
Meanwhile, the incident is said to be causing anger among residents of Tappita who have complained about the use of excessive force by the police in enforcing the Government’s lockdown mandate.
Earlier this month, the Government of Liberia deployed a joint anti-riot Police force in Tappita, a region in Nimba County that has reported six cases of COVID-19 to safeguard the Jackson F. Doe Hospital, patients and staff as well as to enforce the Government’s lockdown orders instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The police include officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and the Police Support Unit (PSU), two of the elite units within the Liberia National Police (LNP) trained to handle riots and other forms of violent civil disobedience.
The decision came as a result of some residents’ action on Friday, May 1, when they broke into the county’s quarantine center located in Tappita to celebrate with those in quarantine under the belief that the noble coronavirus disease was a hoax.
“They will make people pump tire hours and then take money from them for violating. I think this unlawful acts being perpetrated against our people”– Odysseus Dehkpah, A Concerned Resident
The residents, mostly women, upon hearing the news that Jeremiah Gayflor, the journalist who had earlier tested positive for the coronavirus has been released from the 14 Military Hospital, gathered in huge numbers to celebrate.
However, since their deployment in the area, there have been reports of the use of excessive force against the residents.
Some accused the police of extorting money from them and torturing them when they are caught travelling from the farm to their towns and villages after the 3pm deadline.
A popular forms of punishment meted against residents, mostly the motorcyclists was pumping tire, a form of punishment in Liberia where people are made to insert their fingers in both ears and perform squats, causing severe pain in the joints and other parts of the body.
Odysseus Depkah, a resident of Tappita, speaking to FrontPage Africa complained that the police were in the habit of unlawfully arresting commuters and extorting money from them as punishment for violating.
“They will make people to pump tire hours and then take money from them for violating. I think this unlawful acts being perpetrated against our people” Dekpah alleged.
Another resident, Anthony Wailah complained that since the Police’s deployment, every night, a group of gunmen would stormed his resident located near a busy street and ordered him and his family to stay indoors and not come outside.
His daughter told FrontPage that her father complained of the police’s constant threats against him and his sons, who usually go to fetch food on the farm and bring home in the evening hours.