(Pictures of Justice Minister Musa Dean and Police Inspector Patrick Sudue)
The House of Representatives has ordered an investigation into action by the Police to fire teargas at protesters and allegedly use lethal force on the grounds of the Capitol on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
The Lower House voted unanimously on Tuesday, January 21 — the 4th day sitting for the Committee on National Security, to probe and report to Plenary in a week.
Minister of Justice Frank Musah Dean and Inspector General Patrick Sudue of the Liberia National Police (LNP) will be invited for questioning.
Members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Vicent Willie, Jeremiah Koung, Larry Younquoi, Edwin Snowe, Jimmy Smith, Kanie Wesso on Tuesday argued that the Police fired teargas while they were in session on Thursday, and the flimsy scent disturbed most of the staffers including some of the lawmakers. The lawmakers also raised concerns about throwing of stones they said could wound anyone or damage properties, mainly vehicles belonging to lawmakers on the ground.
Unlike other protests, including the recent January 6, 2020 protest organized by the Council of Patriots (COP), lawmakers were not in Session because it was non-session day. Furthermore, the January 6 and other protests were not held on the grounds of the Capitol Building, but protesters stood right on the road passing through Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, the police teargas’ investigation was prompted by a communication from Montserrado County District #10 Representative, Yekeh Kolubah, which read: “It can be recalled that on last Thursday when a group of protestors gathered at the Capitol to sound a message to their Representatives, the Liberia National Police through the instruction of the Ministry of Justice; dispersed said gathering with teargas and allegedly carried out a number of arrests of the protestors.
“I would think that the LNP overstepped its bounds by grossly inconveniencing our peaceful staffers who were in their various offices executing their professional duties. The atmosphere created for them by the Liberia National Police did not just create panic, but they became victims of the flimsy smells of the poisonous tear gas. This action amounts to disruption of normal work activities!”
The Montserrado County District #10 Representative added: “In view of the above, I pray Plenary to invite the Minister of Justice, Frank Musa Dean, and the Inspector General of Police, Col. Patrick Sudue, to explain the legality of their action to use tear gas at the Capitol and to effect any form of arrest without seeking permission from authorities of either the House of Representatives or the Senate.
“Speaker Chambers and distinguished colleagues, I believe we must begin to take needed actions to ensure the safety of our staffers and help prevent recurrence of such action by the Police that has the propensity to steer up strive among our people,” said Representative Kolubah. The police has been facing a series of criticisms in recent times.
It can be recalled that in the January 6 protest the police used tear gas and hot water cannon to disperse peaceful protesters, an action that received condemnations from the Independent National Human Rights Commission and the international community.
Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, was just released just this week on an arrangement with Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge, Nancy Sammy, in a case surrounding seven vehicles believed to be in possession of the LNP.