Extortion Rife at Lofa’s Security Checkpoints

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Travelers along the Bong/Lofa Highway have become the helpless victims of security harassment at Lofa County’s multiple security checkpoints.
Starting from the Saint Paul River Bridge that forms the official boundary between the two counties, security agents of all categories are allegedly associated with the extortion of money and other forms of harassment.
According to some of the affected travelers, immediately a vehicle stops at a checkpoint, swarms of security agents surround the vehicle demanding money and other valuables.
During a round trip to Voinjama City recently, Daily Observer’s reporter on special assignment observed the actions of security agents at some of the checkpoints as extremely worrisome, unpleasant and unacceptable.
It was observed by our reporter that under the pretense of carrying out security duties and the Ebola safety measures, security agents openly demanded money and other items from commercial drivers and businesspeople, especially citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In an encounter at Beyan Town’s Bureau of Immigration checkpoint, two immigration officers angrily stormed the commercial vehicle and demanded money from two ECOWAS citizens or else they would risk detention.
On top of that, other security agents at that checkpoint were heard shouting at passengers of vehicles to follow the health safety measures or risk arrest and detention.
Thanks to a quick intervention from one of the checkpoint’s immigration commanders, the travelers were able to breathe a sigh of relief after 45 minutes of humiliation from security agents.
“We are subjected to all kinds of harassments and humiliation at the hands of our own security agents, simply because they want money from us,” businessman Thomas B. Mulbah lamented.
“I want our government to take some serious steps and help us to stop these security people taking money from us in our own country,” businessman Mulbah pleaded.
A group of women, who were exhausted as a result of the tiresome journey from Voinjama City, expressed outright indignation over the actions of the security agents at most of the checkpoints in Lofa County.
An elderly woman, visibly worn out, pointed out that it was really sad and disgraceful that the country’s citizens continue to suffer at the hands of security agents at the checkpoints.
Madam Hawa M. Momolu stressed the need for measures to be put into place to effectively monitor security agents assigned at rural checkpoints to ensure the hassle free movement of goods, people and services in the country.
When contacted for their reaction to the accusations, some security agents who preferred not be named noted that poor salary, low incentives and bad rural working conditions are contributing factors to their actions.

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