Police, UMU Students Clash

-Students demand Minister Addy’s resignation

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Police clashing with students

Baton-wielding police officers on Friday charged at angry students from the United Methodist University (UMU) who stormed the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) demanding the immediate resignation of Minister Axel Addy.

In the process, several students were reportedly wounded and others arrested. Several cars were also damaged in the fracas.

The students said their action was in protest against the “influx of expired goods on the Liberian market.”

They claimed that Minister Addy is unable to stop the continued entry of “fake goods” into the Liberian market.

“Since Minister Addy took over the job, he has done nothing to curtail the influx of so many expired goods on the market, which is dangerous for the consuming public,” some students told the Daily Observer.

“This is not the first time we have noticed right in front of this ministry the sale of expired goods,” said student Maima Kromah.

Mr. B. S. Bolee, a Political Science major at the UMU, complained that counterfeit goods pose a public health hazard, waste consumers’ income, and lowers the people’s trust in government.

“Counterfeit goods like drugs do not only take income from consumers, they also lead to unresolved health problems that sometimes result in death,” he claimed.

“Counterfeit products are also harmful to the economy. Min. Addy and his inspectors only talk without action and continue to leave the poor people to suffer from the complications that come with these fake goods,” Bolee said.

While the students shouted in demand of Addy’s resignation, a squad of police officers arrived and ordered them to leave the Ministry’s premises.

The police action came at the start of the protest at the Ministry.

When the police officers resorted to the use of force, the students responded by throwing at them stones and anything they could lay their hands on. The stampede, which lasted for more than 15 minutes, saw police officers chasing the protesting students, who then sought refuge on their campus.

Some police officers were seen dragging students, including females with torn blouses, from the school’s campus on Ashmun Street,.

An instructor of UMU, who spoke to the Daily Observer but asked not to be identified, said the LNP officers “unprofessionally and unconscionably entered the university in an attempt to brutalize the protesters.

“The police also went into the various classrooms and brutalized our students who had no idea about the protest. Some of our students were in class and were not on the streets,” he said.

MOCI communications director Mitchell Jones condemned the students’ behavior, which he said resulted in several material losses.

He said: “We cannot control the flow of all goods that come to Liberia. We don’t have Ministry of Commerce inspectors at every point of entry into the country, except the major ones.

“The Ministry has 201 employees, so it means we don’t have the manpower to put people at every store or entry point in the country.”

Mr. Jones added that although it is the students’ right to assemble, the best thing they should have done was to report their grievances to the consumer protection section of the Ministry, which would have launched an investigation and taken the necessary action.

“But they opted to disturb the Ministry’s smooth business operations and cause violence,” he grumbled.

Authors

10 COMMENTS

  1. So students are now police. i thought they were to put their heads into their books.? Why must there always be violence when they want something done? With their education, would not a petition work better?

  2. If pivoting police brutality against unarmed student – protesters continue unabatedly, it could lead to unforeseen circumstances. Mind you, the civil war in Syria started with President Assad’ s security guys arresting, and torturing students who had written anti – government graffiti on walls.

    Lest we forget, unnecessary reckless use of lethal force by the security sector had resulted in the death of a student in 2014 ( 15 years old Shaki Kamara), this government ought to be careful. Were these usual show of force signaling how elections – related protests will be responded to, it is unwise.

    Police officers are peace officers first, not Hitler’s stormtroopers, but sometimes to demonstrate resolve or decisiveness despotic leaders forget to the detriment of the nation.

    As for most of the members of the intelligentsia who would have been pontificating about the freedoms of speech, and assembly was somebody else president, their mouths are closed because EJS is wasting on them monies that should have been used to provide opportunities for the vast majority sufferinf from pervasive poverty.

    To end, anyone who thinks that applauding police brutality against students is a patriotic duty must be crazy. The Legislature should look into this matter, for when shit hits fan EJS would be in a helicopter running away from the turmoil, turbulence, and tribulation of security sector overzealousness, which has always been the secondary driver of our nation’s crises.

  3. Moses, you live in a civilized world, the US. when was the last time, students storm any office demanding resignation of any secretary of a department? why should we support hooliganism in our country as we enjoy civility in other parts? Let the students use their power to challenge the minister before the law. Their action demands police intervention. There was time in the US when people marched to wall street to block it, police had to move in to clear them. Students got right to express themselves but not to invade any ministry to demand resignation.

  4. The students are also citizens of Liberia and as such accorded their citizen rights. Secondly, they are also consumers. So why should the Commerce Ministry seat on it hand while expired goods and product be sold to our people? Still pimping Liberians via your respective bad performances of your duties. Thirdly, Liberian Nation Police, you have to develop crowd control tactics that is internationally acceptable and that are respectful of citizen rights and that is not the beating of individuals that are standing up for their rights as both citizens and consumers. Disappointed in both the Commerce Ministry for its under performance and the National Police of Liberia for their poor handling of the situation of yesterday. Shame on you both for failing carryout your duties and responsibilities respectfully.

  5. What a shame !!! The ministry of commerce can not afford to hire employee. A nation with over 3.5 million people…. commerce ministry can not hire more than 500-800 employee.

  6. Can someone help to clarify some crucial points in this story?
    1. Students enter the Ministry of Commerce to obstruct normal activities at the ministry.
    2. Police entered UMU’s classroom to arrest or brutalized students for their actions.
    Question: I want to know the setting of the clash…please help with answer so we can say something in an opinion court.

    • Mr. Kamara, thanks for those brilliant questions? That was what i expected from anyone who claimed to be a Liberian that mean well for the protection of our emerging democracy. Most of you just fell prey to the moodiness of this saga. Not even the writer of this article got the right story, i think this is just the pussyfooting account of the Police Spokes Man – Sam Collins; like it he has been perambulating the media space to protect his gullible salary at the LNP. With the exception of the reported from the Women Voices News Paper, I dare any news agency to provide proofs of this episode from start to end. No one absolutely has this account of the ‘UMU Bloody Friday’, not even the Kelvin Demy of Prime FM who provided misconceptions to the public and when he was told the real account and later decided to apologize in the public. Like him many of you will do if we have given you the actual story backed by videos evidences. The only good thing here is, we await the government of Liberia to forward us to court on this matter and lets see who is wrong and who is right , i dare as well they can’t proceed.
      To answer your questions: Yes, the protest was acculturated by conglomeration of universities students actors under the banner of a pressure group called Citizens for Open Society and Transformation with most senior position of only a spokesperson – David U. Germu – which is me; that you must take note i am the only one to give you our side now (Please note that, we the lead protesters have never been given the due time to speak to the media since this facades took place. Our protest was all about the vehement nonresponding attitude of Min. Axel did to our communication dated April 21, 2017. We did several follow up on our counts of expired goods been sold on the market, that relevant authorities should dispatch a team that we could work along with to identify those places exhibiting such acts and yet no one seemed to pay heeds to us as though we aren’t citizens, buyers, consumers or business owners as well. Favorably for us, we deemed it fit to file a position statement to the Min. Addy since he has refused to listen in the language he best understands, that is by holding our placards to call his attention by means of our presence but yet the Minister couldn’t give us an inch to hear what do these young people like me wants to say. Infact, the security told us that Min. Addy isn’t inside and so we decided that since the minister is our minister we will wait for him until he addresses our grieved concerns.
      So we stood in the parking lot of MOCI having our placards hoping that this minister will come and give ears to his fellow young friends on their counts so that we could jointly find solutions for the forward- match of Liberia best in the vast majority interest. we were called to compromise with a withdrawal of our just actions and we refuted because the Minister at which has not come to us. Out of a sudden we saw the first batch of LNP officers who drove us opposite MOCI, adjacent the First United Methodist Church where we peacefully stood with our placards and sent our message to the public. While standing we saw the second batch arrived as though a group of militia has taken over. The first thing was, the on scene commander ordered the arrest of I and two persons who were believed to be the master minders of protest. And with his orders we were dragged and flogged on Ashumn to the Metro 2 police station. I have Videos and photo-ages of what ever I’m telling you here. while we were carried for incarceration students who were by-standers of the ongoing bought sympathy on the violation of our rights as citizens who were peaceful. Here is where the riot started: A female ask, “what have those boys done so much for which they’re not treated right”? This girl was been chased as well, but by then we were already in the cells. equally so, i have an evidence that the girl was beaten and necklaced on the streets. This was what brought the riot between students and police. I have videos brother . 0775704245/ 0886574959 are my numbers.
      Article 17 of the constitution gives us the right to peacefully assemble. No where around Liberia had any civil society group seek to protest against government got permit to do.
      The famous April 12, Ellen Sept Down Campaign and the list goes on……Please note at this point that the students saga erupted not at the expense of our protestation but at the cause of a female been disgraced in the public. No body or anyone student even threaten to enter the Ministry.
      I rest my case……….

  7. A philosopher once said, “Democracy is something we must always be working at. It is a process never finished, never ending. And each new height gained opens broader vistas for the future. Thus it has been as one looks back over the sweep of history; thus it must continue to be if democracy is to continue as a working tool in the hands of free men.”

    Yes indeed, if Liberians look back over our turbulent years: we remembered “the Rice Riot”; the overthrowing of “Tolbert’s Administration one party state”; we witnessed the ascension of “Doe’s brutal dictatorship”; we saw “Taylor’s autocratic regime” that destroyed the country; we endured “the carnages of two civil wars”; and the ushering in of many transitional governments, before we reached a compromise through an electoral process that ushered in “Ellen’s Corrupt Admiration”.

    As we experiment with our new found democracy, let’s remind our protesting students that there are lawful democratic processes of airing their grievances. Let’s us also remind our law enforcement officers that Liberia is not a police state where police can brutalize peaceful demonstrators just for the sake of maintaining law and order.
    I remember too well in 1979 after I returned to Liberia from Ghana, where I completed my studies, just to find my once peaceful country in turmoil. I landed in Liberia during the “Rice Riot” that got out of hand because some stubborn government officials were not willing to peacefully settle the protestors’ grievances. For us to maintain our new found peace and democracy, let’s not repeat the Ghost of 1979 that caused Liberia to descend into a land of chaos and destruction.

    Too many times in Africa, so-called democratic countries do not follow the path of settling disputes amicably. Take for example newly formed South Sudan civil war, Ivory Coast and soldiers’ mutiny, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and other African countries with autocratic leaders.

    To our young protesting students, Liberia has been through too many undulating paths: Too many precious lives have been lost to civil wars without erecting a single monument to honor their memories. There are procedures put in place to air your grievances. There are news media to air your grievances. Write or visit your congressmen and women to lodge your complaints. Violence is never the answer to settling our national problems. For the sake of peace, remember the 1979 Rice Riot.

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