The imposition of a nationwide curfew to halt the spread of Ebola is reportedly being abused by unscrupulous police officers to extort money and mobile phones from residents in New Kru Town.
Physically shaken after his experience, a 28-year-old businessman, who would not give his name for fear of reprisal, told the Daily Observer Thursday that four police officers in uniform, along with a couple of women in civilian clothes approached him, while he was closing his door, at around 8:30p.m. in time for the curfew.
“One of the officers asked me to come out but I told him I was going to bed,” the man told the Daily Observer. “The officer grabbed part of my door and began to force it open.”
The businessman said when he began to pull the door shut, “the officer also began to hit my hand to force me to leave the door.
“The officer, assisted by another officer,” he said, “brought me out of the door and began to charge my pockets. It was around 8:30p.m and I had my day’s proceeds from my work in my pocket.”
“The officers took the money, about LD$2, 000.00,” he explained. He was then taken to the New Kru Town Depot, and was released some time later.
“When I came home,” he said, “my wife and children told me that the police officers who did not follow us to the police station forced themselves into our bedroom and turned over my mattress and finally took away another LD$2, 000.00 that was kept there and two mobile phones.”
He also claimed that the officers searched the women, fumbling into their lappas, as well as playing around their waists to locate money bags that market women normally tie around their waist.
“How could they treat women like that?” he wondered. “My son’s left arm was struck and he is now complaining of pain.” The case, he said, was reported to Zone 1 Police Depot, on Bushrod Island.
In another incident, another Fulani hataye seller told the Daily Observer that two police officers came to his door and arrested him for breaking the curfew.
“It was after 8:00p.m,” the alleged victim, who also would not give his name, explained, “The officers took LD$1, 500.00 cash from me.”
Another resident, Annie Weah said officers came to her door to demand that she turned off her light.
“The one who came close to my door had a rattan with him,” she said, “he threatened to arrest and beat me for breaking curfew; but I did not open my door, when he demanded me to do so.”
She said some police officers do not understand the meaning of the imposition of curfew in the country and appealed to the Liberia National Police to ensure that officers don’t invade homes, in the wake of the ‘state of emergency’ to abuse Liberians, who simply want to be left alone to fight the Ebola outbreak in their communities.
When the Liberian National Police (LNP) authority was contacted yesterday, Police spokesperson Sam Collins said they were not aware of such incidents, but that authorities would investigate the matter.