The Liberia National Police is investigating one of its officers who has been accused by a Fulani businessman of assault.
The officer, according to the LNP, is being investigated by the police Professional Standards Division for allegedly assaulting an elder Fulani trader in the former commercial district of Red Light. Commenting on the probe, police spokesman Moses Carter explained that the findings in the investigation against officer Matthew Tokpa will be made available in 30 days and will be accompanied by the appropriate action.
However, Carter said the officer has denied assaulting the businessman, but the complainant, Mohammed Sall, has maintained his claim that he was assaulted by the officer.
“The case is before the Professional Standards Division and they are still investigating it. The officer plus the complainant are before the Professional Standards Division,” Carter said.
“They will be investigated for 30 days. The officer denied ever assaulting the Fula businessman, but the man insists that he was slapped by the office," he said. "So we are investigating each side of the story to come up with a clear picture for public understanding.”
The victim, Sall, narrated that on September 20 while his son, Alpha Sall, was loading his customer’s goods from the warehouse, a police officer asked him to stop bringing any goods outside to put on the truck. After an argument between the officer and Alpha, his father [Mohanmed Sall] came from the shop to intervene and, within the process, the officer allegedly assaulted him.
Since Monday many Fulanis have closed their shops and stores as a means of pressuring the government to promptly give the victim justice. Although few businesses owned by Indians, Chinese and Lebanese are still open, the Fulanis have threatened to close their businesses until they can get redress.
The Paynesville Business Association also backed the action on grounds that since the relocation of street sellers they have received a series of harassment from police officers assigned to Red Light to ensure that petty traders finally leave the area.
The association, comprising mainly Fulanis, were yesterday going from one business center to the other, ordering store owners to lock their stores in solidarity to draw the attention of the government to the offense allegedly committed by the police officer. The group has also threatened to close down businesses until the government can properly intervene in the situation at Red Light.
Sheikh Jollo, the group’s president, narrated that since the relocation of street sellers from Red Light, there has been a series of harassment from police officers assigned in the area. He added that the police are even entering into their shops and stores, asking them to leave the area to move to the Omega Market, without considering that the Omega Market needs better preparation.