Liberia: EPS Boss Accused of Physical Assault

 EPS Director Trokon Roberts.

When the Liberian civil war ended nearly two decades ago, the focus was placed on reforming the security sector — not just to make it professional, but a safe place even for women who intend to join. 

But after millions of US dollars spent, women are still being physically abused by their male counterparts, with little Justice in return. The latest state security personnel to suffer abuse is Augusta Seonegbae Tarwin, a middle-ranking officer of the Liberia National Police, who has accused the head of the Executive Protection Agency (EPS) of physical assault and abuse.

Augusta, in a written complaint to her boss, the Inspector General of police — narrated that while investigating the seizure of seven bags of condemned rice at her assigned depot, the director of the elite presidential guard, Trokon Roberts, walked in and demand that the rice be turned over to Miatta Nyema without any investigation and later ordered his bodyguards to drag Augusta out of the station and place her at the back of a vehicle.

The assaulted police officer is the commander of the Crime Services Division of the Depot-5, police station in Schiefflin Town, Margibi County, and also worked at the Robert International Airport. 

“While the investigation into the matter was ongoing, to my dismay, the Director of the Executive Protection Service, Hon. Trokon Roberts, went to my assigned headquarters with six well-armed men and a lady and ordered me to turn over the condemned rice that was arrested,” Augusta wrote in a complaint to police IG, Patrick Sudue. 

“I attempted explaining to him (Roberts) what was unfolding, [but] he ordered his bodyguards in an aggressive mood to forcibly put me in the back of a vehicle,” she said. “During the process, they man-handled me and tore my clothes in the presence of my co-workers and bystanders on the premises of the police station. During a preliminary investigation conducted with suspects Miatta Nyemah and Mary Johnson,  they voluntarily admitted that the rice in question was unwholesome but got it from a lady at the Freeport of Monrovia.”

Augusta Seonegbae Tarwin, a middle-ranking officer of the Liberia National Police displayed how the physical assaults tore her close.  

Meanwhile, the EPS boss is yet to respond to the allegation by Augusta, despite phone calls and a text message from the Daily Observer, inquiring about the matter.  The incident comes a few months after the Montserrado regional commander Joshua During was accused of sexual assault and rape by a female patrol officer.

During, who has been disrobed from the police, allegedly abused his junior officer at the headquarters of the LNP in Monrovia. And while he has denied all allegations linking him to the crime, authorities of the police are yet to provide information on the status of the investigation which started in November of 2021. 

It can be recalled that During was the same officer who reportedly assaulted journalist Evans Zaza Ballah while covering the protest by family members of three missing Liberians at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor in Gardnersville. But while the police promised to investigate the matter, they are also yet to release any information about the investigation.

Before then, Sergeant Rebecca Nimley was mercilessly assaulted by the now disrobed Maryland County Police Commander Jacob Comehn.  She then sustained several bruises on her face, after she tried to inquire from her boss why her landlord was placed behind bars.  The incident, which took place in April of 2021, is yet to be forwarded to Court; neither has the result of the investigation been made public. 

All in all — the accused are simply disrobed and allowed to move around freely without any penalty. It is yet to be seen whether the case with Augusta will be any different. Augusta, while detailing her experience further, claimed that the EPS boss verbally humiliated her, in an unacceptable manner. 

“I was sitting in my office and heard, ‘where is the commander?’ So I immediately walked to the traffic officer to ask what was going on, and I was told that the EPS boss came for the rice. While talking, he interrupted and ordered for the immediate release of the rice, at the same time, ordering me to take my hands from my pocket,” Augusta told the Daily Observer via phone. “So I took my hands from my pocket and introduced myself as the C.I.D Commander, but he was careless to listen but instead blasted at me for not releasing the rice immediately as ordered.”

Augusta however noted that during the discussion, she was requested to identify herself — which she eventually did, but the EPS boss was not satisfied, claiming disrespect and ordering her dragged.

“Drag her to the car right there,” August said, quoting Roberts. “The bodyguard dragged me, two people held my hands and pulled me by my trousers, the other two people pounded me from the back and patted me in the front until they put me in the car,” she said.

Augusta was eventually released from the car, due to interventions from bystanders who pleaded with Roberts on her behalf. However, Roberts and his men succeeded in taking the condemned bags of rice. 

According to Augusta, since the incident on February 16, there have been no calls from authorities of the police, including the Inspector General, to inquire about the matter. 

“Only today (February 23) I was called at the Professional Services Division for questioning and they asked me to provide evidence, which I did,” Augusta alleged.