Monrovia – Business owners and residents around the James Spriggs Payne Airfield in Sinkor have accused the Commander of the Salem Police Depot, Howelley Parker, of extorting money from them in lieu of providing “protection” for their businesses.
Report by Edwin G. Genoway – [email protected]
Rampant Police corruption is said to be impeding Liberia’s development, a decade after its 14-year civil war ended and abuses should be reined in as the United Nations scales back its presence in the West African country, a 2016 Human Rights Watch Report stated.
Underpaid and inadequately supplied, Liberian Police officers demand bribes at every stage of an investigation, the human rights group said recently in the report titled, “No Money, No Justice”.
“They extort of money from taxi drivers and motorcyclists and steal from street vendors, while criminal suspects routinely pay bribes to get released, the report said.
The incensed residents told FrontPage Africa that the commander usually collect money from business owners around the airfield under the guise of protecting them.
Some business owners who preferred not to be named on grounds that they could be haunted told FPA that Commander Parker collected money depending on the size of the business.
“For example when he goes to Old Folks because that business is big, he’ll collect LD$10,000 and for me because my business is small, he took LD$4,500 from me last month, we are hoping that he don’t come back here again,” an. Anonymous businessman told FrontPage Africa.
He said Parker’s usual flimsy excuse was to provide them protection at night.
Some residents informed FrontPage Africa that Commander Parker normally took money from a man in the community identified as Bon Jallah to implement his (Bon Jallah’s) plans.
Bon Jallah is said to be the brother of former Minister of Justice, Cllr. Peter Bono Jallah. He lives adjacent the Salem Depot.
A commotion broke out between some residents of the Sharks community and the commander of Salem for seizing their goods because they sell along the feeder road which leads to Salem.
The commander, according to community dwellers, was acting on the orders of Bon Jallah. When FrontPage Africa tried to contact Jallah, he could not be reached and it’s the understanding of this paper he has traveled from the country.
Many described Commander Parker as being a subordinate to Bon Jallah who allegedly gave him money to implement his demands.
One of the community dwellers who felt victim to the commander’s action on Monday expressed frustration over the incident. Isaac Jabbah said he did nothing wrong to the Police commander for his umbrella to have been seized.
Jabbah, whose parents own properties around the Salem Depot, is exchanging money at the front of his family property along the Sharks community road.
“I am disappointed in that man who say he’s the commander of this depot, I am doing my business at our front view and not even on the main road, is the commander telling me that he is now doing City Hall job, or is it because Bon Jallah told him to remove us from along the road so he’s taking instruction from Bon,” Isaac asked frustratingly.
Motorcyclists are amongst the many residents who also accused the commander of harassment and extorting money from them.
The motorcyclists complained that their bikes are arrested by the commander and they (motorcyclists) normally pay LD$1,500 to release their bikes.
Junior Freeman, a commercial bike rider said he and his colleagues have been victimized by the commander’s action.
“Big brother to be frank with you, we sometimes violate by going on the main road, but if that commander arrests your bike, you will have to give him LD$1,500 before he free your bike to you, sometimes he can use our bikes and be riding around with it,” he noted.
But Commander Howelley Parker told FrontPage Africa to “go to hell” when he was contacted.
Heated exchanges followed on the part of Parker when he was quizzed on the monumental allegations levied against him by community dwellers.
Hell broke loose when FPA was spotted taking the photograph the Police commander.
One of the officers who was on the scene identified as Victor threatened that FPA will feel the weight if the story is published, threatening the reporter.
He said the reporter will be dealt with outside the ambit of his Police operations.
Police spokesman Sam Collins said the Police authority will launch an investigation into the matter.
He told FPA that the LNP would not condone any act which will tarnish the reputation of the Coleman led force.
“It is still an allegation but the Police will investigate the matter because we want to see well-disciplined Police force,” he noted.
Sam Collins called on the public to report any illegal act of the Police.