The spokesman for the Liberia National Police (LNP), Sam Collins, has described reports of well poisoning in communities across the country as “false, misleading and lacking in substance”.
Speaking Wednesday to the Daily Observer on Center Street, the police spokesman said, the LNP was running out of patience with people demonstrating and throwing stones at LNP officers.
According to him, the police officers were open to the public providing evidence of individuals engaged in poisoning wells to destroy peaceful citizens’ lives.
He condemned the action by residents of communities who were using stones to solve the problem and called on them to desist from throwing stones as a way of engaging the police and alleged criminals.
According to the LNP spokesman, the angry mobs that attacked the officers of the LNP on Center Street destroyed the windshield of an LNP vehicle and stoned some of the officers that were assigned to put the situation under control.
“LNP would like to challenge anyone in this community and other parts of Liberia to provide evidence of anyone putting poison into wells. Since we received this rumor, we have gathered no evidence from the public, community or individuals but the public continues to provide false information.”
“Our officers came to put the situation under control but were attacked by the same people in the community who run to the police for safety,” Mr. Collins alleged.
He claimed that the well in question is currently being used by residents of the community, which he described as a clear indication of the "false and misleading information" coming from the public.
He said people were endangering the lives of others by spreading false information and rumors that have the propensity to create additional stress and confusion for the nation already plagued with the Ebola epidemic.
According to Mr. Collins, it is time for communities to focus on preventing the deadly Ebola virus in the country and taking the necessary protective measures in order to save lives.
“Instead of endangering other people through rumors and false information, I want to advise those involved to be careful of how they carry out these violent acts in peaceful communities.
He disclosed that the LNP was doing a water test in the Schieffelin community where a sample of the water will be taken to the University of Liberia campus for the testing. The public will be provided with the results. But he insisted that LNP has not seen any substance in the allegations as insinuated by the public.
Those in custody of the police were only being protected by the LNP, as communities were determined to mob them. Only one person so far was undergoing police investigation, he said.
The Observer, however, obtained photos of the alleged perpetrator arrested in Schieffelin, the dead dog on which the poison was allegedly tested and the paraphernalia he is said to have used.
On Tuesday, August 5th, the Observer reported another story in which community residents said that around 4 a.m. Monday morning, they saw two armed men approach their well. The men allegedly made a small opening in the side of the well covering and used a syringe to insert a substance into the well.
Apparently, across the country, the modus operandi is uniformed — the use of syringes and chemicals.
The State broadcaster, ELBC, which originally broadcast the story about the alleged well poisoning in Schieffelin, and then backed away from it, reported at 7 p.m. this evening (Thursday, August 7, 2014) that several investigations were ongoing in Ganta relating to alleged well poisoning.
Upon being accosted by the community, the Schieffelin poisoner reportedly confessed at the scene that at least 250 men had been trained and dispersed across the country.
It is unlikely that communities across the country would simultaneously make up "false and misleading" stories about people poisoning wells.
It is also unclear, however, with the increasing number of reports and some evidence available, what interest police would have in covering up the story.