By Edward Stemn and David S. Menjor
For the past five years, Sergeant Rebecca Nimley has been stationed at the Liberia National Police outpost in Maryland County, working to protect women and children against domestic and other forms of violence. As Deputy Head of the Women Children & Social Protection Division for the LNP in Maryland County, she comes with considerable authority to pursue and investigate perpetrators of violence against women.
Little did she know, however, that one day the violence from which she worked to rescue so many other women, she would now experience; and not in a domestic capacity, but at the hands of her own superior, a man by the name of Col. Jacob Cummeh.
Now, having reported the matter to the Central Police Headquarters in Monrovia through the LNP Professional Standards Division, Sgt. Nimley fears that her alleged perpetrator might return with a vengeance.
The incident took place during the week of April 4, 2021, just as the county was recovering from a riot a week earlier following the gruesome murder of a motorcyclist. Sgt. Nimley said she was brutally assaulted on the premises of the police headquarters in the County, in the presence of other bystanders and passersby.
Col. Cummeh, whose action is being investigated by the police in Monrovia, physically assaulted his junior officer after she inquired about an ongoing interrogation of her landlord, leaving her severely bruised on the face beyond recognition, as well as other parts of the body.
According Sgt. Nimley, her safety is not guaranteed once she remains under the supervision of Col. Cummeh and, as such, she wants to be re-assigned to elsewhere, “where my rights will be respected and my human dignity recognized and valued.”
“I want Cummeh to bear the full weight of the law for assaulting and injuring me,” Sgt. Rebecca said. “I am afraid the police might throw this case under the carpet and he will come back to haunt me, because he is not remorseful of his action.”
According to Sgt. Nimley, her fear comes as a result of what Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue told her, that she should seek redress in court if the outcome of the police investigation does not meet her satisfaction.
Col. Sudue’s statement, Sgt. Nimley believes, is a clear indication of lack of interest from the police and might end up like other cases that have previously been swept under the carpet.
“Whenever there is a case between a junior officer and one higher than him or her, our bosses do not allow us to meet face to face in an investigation room, and in most cases, they only tell us sorry,” Sgt. Nimley said in an interview with KMTV on April 9, 2021.
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Liberia National Police, H. Moses Carter, has disclosed that the matter between Col. Cummeh and Sgt. Nimley is being investigated thoroughly and that “the investigation findings will be released soon” though he declined to give a specific date.
“The matter is being investigated internally. We want to establish the claims and counterclaims, and currently, he is still in the police but not working actively. The report is expected out very soon,” said Carter.
How did the assault happen?
The assault, according to Sgt. Nimley, occurred after she had returned from patrol with some officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and met her landlord seated at the police depot with no clothes and foot-wear on. She immediately went to inquire about his arrest.
“But in no time my boss came and started insulting and calling me all types of names.
“I inquired to know what exactly happened that led to [my landlord’s] arrest and subsequent placement on the ground like a criminal. But being that he is exceptionally unmannered in his utterances to women, he did not listen to me, rather started verbally abusing me before going physically.
“Being a commander does not mean you know everything. We work together as a team. Female officers here have complained several times to the Professional Standards Division here but he is not showing remorse, neither [is he] willing to change from his unruly behavior,” Sgt. Nimley added.
She further said that her inquiry was intended to be in the know of the charges against her landlord so as to inform his family about the situation, but her boss, Col. Cummeh took it personally and decided to show strength.
“He blasted at me and when I tried cooling him down, he got angry, and that’s how he started hitting me,” She said. A PSU officer was around and held him, but his force overpowered the officer. He reached to me with a punch and pushed me to the ground and started to beat me like his baby. He physically assaulted me and I sustained injuries to my nose and feeling severe pain at the back of my head.”
Sgt. Nimley added that “I am receiving treatment at the J.J. Dossen Hospital but it seems that I need further and better check-up. I may have to go to Tappita Hospital.
Despite still recovering, Sgt. Nimley disclosed that since the flogging, she has been stigmatized and regularly mocked by citizens of the county. The stigmatization, and safety issue, according to her, are the reasons behind her push for reassignment, despite the possibility of a cover-up that may lead to Col. Cummeh’s return to active duty in the county.
“People now identify me by that brutal incident rather than by my name and I am not Cummeh’s fiancée or child to be treated as he wishes. I would rather resign and do my business than stay here and continue working with a man who has no good manners. He is hot-tempered and quick to raise his hand for a fight or, if possible, hit on whomever he is angry with at a given time,” Sgt. Nimely explained.
Sgt. Nimely furthered that what is more annoying is that Cummeh did not regret his action against her as he continued to demonstrate it.
“My uncle took my phone and he took photos of my bleeding. Cummeh again went out and demanded that my uncle give him my phone, something which my uncle refused but was nearly hit hard like me.
“My uncle ended up giving Cummeh the phone on the appeal of the County Superintendent, Mr. Pratt, and Cummeh deleted all the pictures. He seized my uncle’s motorbike and it slept with him too,” she narrated.
Sgt. Nimely noted that in the process, she lost some items including money on the day she was brutalized by Col. Cummeh but, up to date, she is yet to get the repayment of any of what she lost.
“My mother has filed a complaint with the Gender Ministry and she is looking forward to investigation too. We are not taking this for granted because women are abused every day and nothing much comes out of the many cases around us,” she lamented.