EPS Tussle With Protesters at Capitol Annexes’ Dedication

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EPS used force to remove protesting students from Capitol grounds

Violent clashes erupted on the grounds of the Capitol Building yesterday when President George Weah’s elite guards, the Executive Protective Service (EPS), forcefully removed a group of students who had gone to present a petition to members of the legislature.

As invitees went to grace the dedicatory ceremony of the new Capitol annex awaited the arrival of the President, a group of students and youths under the banner, “Movement Against the Senatorial Election of Sitting Lawmakers (MASESL) in both Montserrado and Bong Counties,” quickly moved in to, according to them, present their petition to the Legislature but were prevented from doing so by riot police and EPS officers deployed on the grounds of the Capitol.

The students had called on sitting lawmakers to refrain from contesting the July 31 Bong and Montserrado counties’ senatorial by-elections so as to help the pro-poor agenda of the CDC-led government succeed.

Representative Saah H. Joseph of Montserrado district #13,  J. Marvin Cole of Bong electoral district #3 and Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado district #10 are the lawmakers who have announced their intentions to contest for the county senatorial seat.

The tussle between the Police and protesters erupted when EPS Director Trokon Roberts and Deputy Director Henry Wolo told a Police Support Unit (PSU) officer to have the protesters evacuate the grounds of the Capitol because he felt that their protest action would have created security risks for the President who was due to arrive in a short while.

EPS deputy Director

When the PSU officer tried to calmly usher the protesters away from the President’s expected arrival area, Wolo and Roberts ordered EPS personnel to use force to remove the protesters from the grounds of the Capitol. While pushing the protesters out, a full fledged tussle ensued as both Director Roberts and Deputy Director Wolo destroyed the placards as the students began to resist the police.

The students fought back, reminding the EPS about President Weah’s days in opposition when his supporters were always parading the streets with coffins and were hardly ever beaten up by state security officers including the police.

“It is our right to assemble and petition our lawmakers. Article 1 and 17 give us the right to seek redress from our lawmakers; security cannot make us afraid and no number of armed men can take us from here. When you were in opposition, you paraded the streets with caskets; Madam Sirleaf did not stop you or used EPS to put you out, so allow us to excise our constitutional rights,” the protesters declared.

MASESL Secretary General Kaiballeh Conteh’s petition called on the chairman of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) legislative caucus to immediately withdraw two of its sitting lawmakers from the senatorial by-elections because, during the President’s state of the nation address, he openly acknowledged to the World that his administration inherited a broken economy, adding that the broken economy stands little chance of being fixed when there are repeated by-elections in the country.

Conteh said the money that will be used to conduct recurring by-elections can be invested in  education, health, electricity and more roads that will benefit the common people.

Charles Brown, former Representative Candidate of the just ended 2017 general and presidential elections, expressed disappointment in the CDC-led government for the violent action by the police on grounds that CDC loyalists went beyond the students’ actions when they were in opposition.

Brown said it is not the function of EPS to beat on students simply because they choose to exercise their constitutional right in a democratic nation.

He furthered that when CDC was in opposition they protested and took coffins around Monrovia but, the past government allowed them to exercise their rights. “Why is it now they are hassling students because they presented a petition to their direct representation?  It is their right, the reconstruction of Liberia calls for that! I will write the President officially to complain of the action of the EPS,” he said.

22 COMMENTS

  1. This is just the beginning of police brutality against innocent and peaceful students who have assembled to petition their law makers. The CDC lead- led government will crush any opposition that will come their way. they were once allowed to parade the streets of Monrovia under Unity Party Government. But now that they are in control, they will not tolerate any such thing. Liberians, do not be surprised. More and more abuse of citizens’ rights will continue. They have deplored all their agents and supporters on the social media to attack. They do not like criticism at all. The citizens were just there to exercise their full constitutional rights under the law which calls for peaceful assembly.They were not armed with objects such as rocks or sticks which would have posed security risks to the president. I think President Weah wants to see these to remind him of what is going in the society. It is not everything that reaches to the president’s desk.

  2. Well, as narrated by the article, it seems like the EPS went beyond the “thin red line” (messed up). The protesters rights were violated!

  3. Dear Students, you deserved more than that! You were forewarned about this individual and his cohorts of greedy and corrupt members, but you did not listened, now you will feel.
    Thanks.

  4. What do you expect when all the trained security personnel are being replaced by quacks. I can imagine what the situation would look like in 2022 elections year.

    • Well, also when you bring back Charles Taylor’s gun men back as security officers what do you expect? Liberians will learned after this administration, not because you played and put the ball between two poles will give you license to rule a country. These people were all over the map when it came to Joseph Boakai and the Unity party- right now most Liberian got what they wanted, but mama Liberia will survived after Weah and his cronies leave.

  5. Gentlemen, you people are in line with the constitution but untrained and unethical security personnel within the CDC government will serious cause necessity to President Weah tenure with their so-called saying, “that our time”.
    That’s how they are… unqualified people on the job always doing the right thing in the wrong ways.

  6. People are now reaping what people with no brain brought upon us…
    Electing Weah was one of the worst mistake Liberians ever made…

    • Yes, it was the worse mistake most Liberian made, but what are we going to do for this to not happen anymore. I hope political leaders in the country are not waiting for the next election before they start telling Liberians about the importance of who is elected.

  7. It is dismaying that mature folks are giving a pass to students who’re opposing a constitutionally-mandated task. Ironically, by no stretch of the imagination are our university students the most civic-minded in West Africa, yet, comparatively, they often take to the streets without any just cause.

    The question then is, does it rise to “police brutality” when officers remove them from disturbing the peace?

    No doubt, most children and relatives of the “mature folks” cheerleading these brave “Pan Africanist revolutionary students” already have their postgraduate degrees abroad or pursuing them at universities where the only grumbling of student bodies was/ is about rising tuition fees. Then we wonder why our public school education has been described correctly as a “mess”; it is so, because time which should be spent studying in preparation for teaching positions are wasted on macho grandiosity.

  8. To all Liberians, if liberty means anything at all, as it is enshrined within the constitution of the Republic, it means the RIGHT to tell other Liberians what they do not want to hear. Telling them doesn’t mean risking your life. We can disapprove of what they have to say, but we must defend to the DEATH their right to say it. An intolerance society has all the ingredients that can possibly slide into a totalitarian dictatorship. I m positively sure that the president, His excellency George Manneh Weah, do not approve of this.

    The EPS Security unit boss need some retraining on tolerance. We Liberians, are living in a country that people still look at you differently for your political, religious and partisan affiliations.

    Diversity is the SPICE of life.

  9. Removing people who are disturbing the peace for no just cause is not “police brutality”; and it is cowardly for educated grownups to hide behind “students” for a confrontation with government they themselves want. As for media outlets aiding and abetting such outcomes, what a bloody shame!

    • This is their constitutional right. EPS has no right whatsoever to stop them from exercising such in the name of “protecting” the President as long as they did not present a genuine security risk. According to the “rendition of accounts” from the article, the students were merely protesting (their intent was to protest) til the EPS decided to use force, and went on to destroy placards/signs relevant to their cause.

      From a security perspective, the Presidential security detail (EPS), elevated tensions and increase the likelihood/probability of a potential non existent security incident by destroying the protest paraphernalia of the demonstrators. That was a move definitely intended to enrage the protesters and that in itself created a possible security hazard. They should have known better and not shown off muscles!

      We should not promote vice on the part of law enforcement/security officers whatever their assignments and authority. What is the definition of “disturbing the peace” in a protest context? All manifestations of grievances is somewhat a disturbance of “peace”. We have to examine the objective and subjective definition of “peace” contextually (vis a vis their constitutional rights ) to ascertain whether the students posed a security risk to the President. This happens all the time around the world.

      Part of the duty of a Presidential security detail is mitigate not generate a security risk! They generated one !

  10. Mr. Moses, the constitution give all of us the right to present a petition to members of the legislature and the president, no security officers or anybody else have the right to stop us,these same security officers will be the one who will be the down fall of the president and some of these legislature. Nothing is more harmful than stopping the people from expressing themselves in a open society-government.

  11. What do you expect from Sylvester Moses. He and others use similar unnecessary force against dissent during the Samuel Doe repressive regime

  12. Liberian students should learned to protest about an improved educational system in this country which has been a mess for years.What is the reasons of protesting against a sitting Lawmakers who have been registered by NEC to contest the pending senatorial bi-elections in Montserrado and Bong counties? There is no way that these lawmakers would be denied when their registration has been accepted and already campaigning the two counties. The Liberian government didn’t tell the nation that there is no money to hold bi-election when the need arises but wouldn’t accept any unreasonable budget from NEC in order to hold bi-election.It is the rights of the sitting Lawmakers to contest the pending bi-elections and there is no laws whatsoever banning them.The protesting students should returned to the classroom and don’t be allow to be used by politicians for little or nothing to implement their selfish political agenda.If you guys were spending much time in making research to improved the quality of education in Liberia, it would have been a great one.Then Liberia education will not be substandard . Then the state leading University UL will be listed among the top two hundreds universities in Africa when it is browsed on the Internet.

    • That is the beauty of protests, you can protest for whatever ! Regarding the state of education in Liberia, I think we need responsible and dedicated government (MoE) as a point of departure to improve it! And yes, there could be protests about the quality too!

  13. If the students protest was on capital building grounds the Head of Legislative security should have directed the students by instructions from Pro Temp as to need be at the appropriate time to confront the lawmakers on this issue. This was a protest intended for the Legislature but the Executive was there to dedicate the building and Students not seeing that this ceremony was a life activity and not a school or academic requisite, should have avoided the rebellion by first informing the Speaker of their intend so as to avoid security clash between the EPS and Capital Building Security (CBS). On the other hand, EPS actions was out of order if not instructed by the Legislative security to take such action. We should never again conflict the interest of the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary functions. As soon as you enter on the grounds of any of this branches of the Liberian Government, you fall directly under its protection and actions. Was the Legislative digger from Barclay Training Center already in the fence on the advanced teem? Suppose something else had happened? We will blame the Commanding General, Chief of Staff or even Commander in Chief if the army has not assigned one tanker each in camp to the Executive Mansion, Capitol building and Temple of Justice and only move in from training center for such occasion. We should not forget that all in their respective responsibilities three branches of Government have equal Powers. Civil leaders takes priority in a democracy. The days for dictatorship, rebel activities and military control of this nation are gone. God says so. Do not call me back or answer my box. Tell the people. Gone to silence.

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