Liberia: EPS Boss ‘Sorry’ for Abuse Meted Against Female Officer

Trokon Roberts, the Director of the Executive Protection Service. 

.....Says the chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights 

The Director of the Executive Protection Service has apologized to a middle-ranking police officer who claimed that she was manhandled and verbally abused by men from the elite presidential guard on the order of their boss. 

The revelation, which was made by  the chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) comes after the EPS boss, Trokon Roberts, had earlier denied ever instructing his men to physical assault and verbally abuse officer Augusta Tarwin — claiming that his accuser is a liar with a concocted story — and that “God in heaven knows that I did not authorize any flogging and that nobody flogged her.”

But after much public denial, Trokon, who is a former UN-trained security expert, decided to apologize to officer Tarwin after appearing before the INCHR, based on a complaint filed against him. 

“It will interest you to know that the executive director of the EPS confessed judgment and apologized to the officer,” disclosed Cllr. Dempster Brown, the INCHR chair. This proved to us that Trokon is a man that believes in the rule of law.” 

“Whatever happened there, those that did this thing to the woman are my subordinates and for that reason, I shoulder the responsibility. I am responsible because they are working with me,” Cllr. Brown quoted Trokon at a press conference in Monrovia yesterday. 

The Human Rights Commission boss noted that Trokon said he was extremely sorry and felt that he had let officer Tarwin down by the actions of his subordinates. 

According to Cllr. Brown, officer Tarwin has accepted Trokon's apology and refused any form of compensation from the EPS boss.

“She said that because the director of the EPS confessed judgment, she forgave him and did not want any compensation,” said Cllr Brown. “She said ‘no, I don’t want one cent from him. As long as he apologized to me, I will forgive him because Jesus Christ says we should forgive each other seventy times seventy; so I forgive the director of EPS.’”

Trokon Roberts’ apology announced by Cllr. Brown is the second since the incident occurred in February 2022. 

Trokon’s action, according to officer Tarwin, left her traumatized and heartbroken for weeks — have accused him of failing to take steps to protect the state security officer and of ignoring the conduct of one of the officers and his own. 

Officer Tarwin, who is the commander of the Crime Services Division (CID) of the Liberia National Police Zone Depot-5, in Schiefflin Town, Margibi County, had accused the EPS director of ordering his men to physically and verbally assault her in the presence of her colleagues and bystanders while investigating a consignment of unwholesome rice, which belongs to a friend of the EPS boss. 

In a written complaint to the Inspector General of Police, Patrick Sudue, Officer Tarwin narrated that while investigating the seizure of seven bags of condemned rice at her assigned depot, Trokon walked in and demanded that the rice be turned over to Miatta Nyema without any investigation and later ordered his bodyguards to drag Officer Tarwin out of the station and place her at the back of a vehicle, at the same time verbally abusing her. 

“While the investigation into the matter was ongoing, to my dismay, the Director of the Executive Protection Service, 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,” said officer Tarwin in a February complaint letter to the police.

“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 manhandled me and tore my clothes in the presence of my co-workers and bystanders on the premises of the police station and abused me. 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.”

But after Officer Tarwin went public about the incident a few days after it occurred, the EPS boss issued a strong-worded statement, claiming that was the victim of Tarwin’s diatribe, wondering how could a security officer not only render such callous disrespect to her superior but rain verbal insults at him. 

“She had torn her trousers only to make the public believe that she was assaulted.  If her workmates on the scene chose to support her lies, the Almighty God in heaven will judge all of us someday,” Roberts said in a release denying the allegation. 

However, a few weeks later, in the presence of Representative Solomon George of Montserrado County District #7, Roberts issued an apology to Officer Tarwin and pleaded with her to let go of everything and make peace.

Rep. Solomon George, a friend of Officer Tarwin and Trokon, was involved in an earlier mediation attempt settlement after the incident happened in February. 

It was at that meeting he first apologized for the actions of his subordinates but still claimed he did not instruct them to manhandle and verbally abuse anyone.

“He [Trokon] said to Augusta, ‘I am not here to judge you. I am here to apologize to you for whatsoever that took place,’” Rep. George told the Daily Observer, quoting Trokon. “‘I am very sorry but I didn’t instruct my boys to manhandle you. Please forgive us.’ He said it in my presence,” Rep. George narrated.

After Rep. George’s revelations, Trokon had not come up to deny the lawmaker’s claims. 

However, his apology at the INCHR — which he also has not denied — makes it the second apology Trokon had issued behind closed doors, but not publicly.

“I am happy that I am being vindicated,” Officer Tarwin says. “I was ignored in public with this complaint by my boss at the police — maybe they never even wanted to believe it. But the apology from Hon. Trokon Roberts at the human rights commission shows that I was right and not lying as he made people believe.” 

Despite Trokon's apology, Officer Tarwin has called on him to man up and go a step further, issuing a public apology for the way he damaged her reputation in the public by calling her a liar. 

Officer Tarwin noted that she accepted Trokon's apology on grounds that he would publicly apologize to her, not to the Human Rights commissioner calling a press conference to make the disclosure.

The officer however disclosed that she will soon determine her next course of action if Trokon does not issue the public apology as “agreed upon at the INCHR hearing.”

Meanwhile, Officer Tarwin’s complaint to the police was never looked into on grounds that the police lacked the authority to investigate the EPS boss because he is a presidential appointee. 

Police spokesperson Moses Carter claimed that it is the Ministry of Justice, which has the authority to probe officer Tarwin's allegation. 

“The head of the Executive Protection Service [the elite presidential guard] is a presidential appointment and cannot be investigated by the professional standard division of the police since the case is outside of its jurisdiction. Only the Ministry of Justice handles such cases.,’’ said LNP spokesman Carter. “The Minister of Justice, Cllr. Musa Dean, can investigate and make recommendations to either the police, if need be, or to the President.”