The Liberia National Police (LNP), a state owned law enforcement institution, has become mixed with individuals believed not to be trained and legitimate members of the force but ones with the goals of harassing, terrorizing and robbing citizens.
In a communication dispatched January 5, 2020, the authorities of the LNP said “It has come to the attention of the Liberia National Police that some unscrupulous individuals claiming to be Anti-Robbery Agents of the Liberia National Police are in the constant habit of going from community to community harassing, searching homes and intimidating peaceful residents thereby taking their personal belongings.”
This latest information comes after many years of public perception that the police are a part of armed robbery activities that have victimized several people mainly in Monrovia. The public has overly accused the LNP of having some members in uniform carrying out robbery during night hours.
It can be recalled that during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration there were several reports of armed robbery activities in and around Monrovia that showed evidence of the involvement of officers of the LNP.
The debate has gone further to also establish that there are some who also use the LNP uniform with the intent of posting themselves as Traffic Police officers harassing commercial drivers. It can be recalled that former Director of Police for Operations (popularly known by his code name: 102), Abraham Kromah, launched an operation to identify and arrest those who were involved in such acts and more than two persons were subsequently arrested and disrobed at the ever busy commercial district of Red Light, in Paynesville.
In the latest communication from the LNP, it acknowledges having an established group of “Anti-Robbery Unit,” but notes that this unit has officers who are properly identified by their ID Cards with specific jackets having the inscription Anti-Robbery/LNP.
Police spokesperson Moses Carter confirmed that such a group is being established with the mentioned identities; however, he could not clarify how the public could take note of duplication or infiltration as the case had been in the past where non-officers used police uniform to harass and intimidate commercial drivers.
“The LNP wants to inform the public that members of the Anti-Robbery Unit of the LNP are properly identified with Identification Cards, and specific Vest with the inscription, ‘Anti-Robbery/LNP,” the communication said, urging the public to request the identification of people, many of who are hostile and uncivil in their actions, when coming across the in performing such duty of the “Anti-Robbery” task.
The LNP also urged the public, upon coming across anyone performing a task in the name of Anti-Robbery Unit, to report same act by calling the cell numbers: 0770800911, 0770800428, 0770899420, 0770800413 and 0770800411.
The latest action of the LNP to caution the public about the prevalence of robbery activities in its reach might appear as slight boost to the credibility after coming under series of criticisms that it is a partisan police rather than a state police as called for in its Act of 2016.
Section 3(L) of the Police Act notes with emphasis: “The establishment of the Liberia National Police, which shall be strictly non-partisan, shall exercise its powers and functions exclusively at the service of the state.”
However, in the short period of the CDC-led Government, the public, mainly members of the political opposition, have accused the police of demonstrating exclusive loyalty to members and supporters of the ruling party, even if those members and supporters were captured on record breaking the law.
In the Montserrado County by-election in District #15 between Teila Urey and Abu Kamara wherein Abu ascended finally as the victor, replacing deceased Representative Adolf Lawrence, some thugs loyal to Kamara and the CDC attacked Teila Urey, damaged her vehicle and the building in which she was holding a meeting, while officers of LNP at the scene were caught on video witnessing the event without any attempt to arrest the situation.
On December 19, 2019, popular talk show host and chairman of the Council of Patriots, Henry Costa and his group were attacked by a thug group near the VAMOMA Building in Sinkor, and they accused the police again of taking no action except firing tear gas at those who were attacked. While conducting his regular online show recently, Costa complained again that a thug group attacked his entity, Roots FM, and two of his body guards were stabbed and the windshield of a vehicle, which attackers thought was his, was broken.
“Folks, I called the Justice Minister and the Police Director to inform them about the attack, but none of them picked my call. It means I do not have security in the country,” said Costa in a Facebook Live post.