LNP Dismissals Linked to Human Rights Records?

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Though the Executive Mansion has yet to provide reasons for the dismissal of the controversial deputy director for operations of the Liberian National Police (LNP), Colonel Abraham Kromah, and three other senior police officers, highly placed sources in the security sector suggest that pressure from Liberia’s international partners have influenced President Sirleaf’s decision. According to our sources, at least  three of those dismissed are linked to human rights violations over the years.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday took an unprecedented decision when she announced the dismissal of Col. Kromah along with three other high-ranking LNP officers, one of who was transferred to another department.

The other officers include Samuel Nimley, Assistant Director for Intelligence; Phil G. Tougbay, Assistant Director for Administration;  and Assistant Director for Crimes Services Department, Joseph B. Flomo, who was transferred to Intelligence as Acting Assistant Director.

Prior to his dismissal on Friday, Col. Kromah had often been in the news defending what many described as a tainted human rights record, dating back to the  Liberian civil war years, having ascended to the rank of lieutenant general in the defunct rebel faction, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).

In addition, Mr. Kromah has been tagged  for his alleged association with drug smugglers into the country, as well as his questionable handling of Ebola-related funds appropriated for police operations.  The latest instance of Kromah’s woes was the Thursday, April 16 death of a motorcyclist at the hands of a police officer in Paynesville, which resulted in the burning down of three LNP sub-stations and the assault of a female officer in uniform.

Phil G. Tougbay, the dismised Assistant Police Director for Administration, was cited in the 2013 US Department of State Human Rights Report for police brutality against ordinary citizens as well as lower-ranking police officers.

 For example, according to the report, “while a citizen was waiting to use an air pump at a service station, uniformed LNP officers, ordered him (the citizen) to move. The officers, directed by top-ranking LNP officer, Phil Gbor Tougbay, sitting in a police vehicle, assaulted and beat him (citizen), removed his car battery, tore his clothes, handcuffed him to the back of the police pickup truck, threw him into the truck bed, and jailed him overnight. The same assistant inspector was also involved in abusing a lower-ranked officer during the year and remained under investigation for both incidents.”

Sam “PI” Nimley was a member of the erstwhile Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), the paramiltary group loyal to ex-President Charles Tayor which was notorious for torture and other gross rights violations. However, over the past year, Nimley took on one of the most feared jobs of the Ebola epidemic: leading a team tasked with the collection and disposal of the corpses of Ebola victims around Montserrado County. 

A statement from the Executive Mansion says President Sirleaf has called for a change of command at the LNP, through which she mandated the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr. Bennedict Sannoh, to constitute a “Change Management Committee” with the view to formalize the procedure for the promotion and changes in the management structure in the police.

The statement indicates that pending the recommendation of the “Change Management Committee”, President Sirleaf, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, has designated a number of individuals until otherwise ordered.

They include Prince B. Mulbah, Chief of Professional Standards Division, to serve as Acting Deputy Director of Police for Operations and Sadatu F.M. Reeves, Chief of Gender Affairs, to serve as Acting Assistant Director for Administration.

Mixed reactions over Kromah’s Dismissal

There have been several mixed reactions since the news of the dismissal of Kromah, otherwise popularly known by his police code “102”.

His dismissal has however sparked lot of arguments across the country, at entertainment and intellectual centers and on social media, as well as in the Diaspora, with many expressing anger at President Sirleaf for removing their “beloved law enforcer, who has helped to suppressed lawlessness and criminality” across Liberia.

Mr. Kromah has also met his own share of disapproval by a large sector of young people, who feel that he has been overly brutal in dealing with motorcyclists, most especially in Monrovia and its environs. He has been engaged in several altercations with motorcyclists, who many times fell victim to his manner of enforcement. But he has consistently noted that he hates to see the laws of the land broken.

 On the other hand, Col. Kromah is loved and revered by many, who also feel that he has done much to bring some level of sanity and security to the Liberian society. These groups of people argued that he has been ruthless against suspected criminals to the extent that some of the security tactics and measures that he introduced have worked perfectly in the interest of Liberians and their foreign partners.

Two notable achievements touted by Kromah’s supporters include the 10:00 p.m. curfew for commercial motorcyclists, as well as banning the same group from plying the major streets of Monrovia and its environs. These measures, many believe, have reduced the level of criminal activities in the country as well as the numbers of motorbike-related accidents and injuries.

In another development, President Sirleaf has dismissed Imam Mohammed A. Passewe as Superintendent of Grand Cape Mount County and has forwarded to the Ministry of Justice a case involving the Imam in the misuse of public funds.  The Assistant Superintendent for Development has been mandated to serve as Acting Superintendent.

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