A Search for Scapegoats or a Search for Truth?

Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Col. Patrick Sudue.

Police Inspector General (IG) Patrick Sudue, commenting on reports of ritualistic killings in Monrovia and other parts, has declared that such reports of ritualistic killings are fake news contrived by the political opposition with intent to discredit the government.

But the public apparently knows better as his statements have not gone without challenge, judging from comments aired on various talk-shows in and around Monrovia.  Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has also added her voice of disagreement and called on the Police to take charge and bring the situation under control.

“I’d like to call upon our security sector to please put in place a regime that will enable our people to remain safe. The situation involves instances where women’s private parts are being cut off, stories of young people being taken in specific locations where others allegedly were being used for ritualistic purposes, are very alarming.”

But from all indications,  comments by the Inspector-General (IG) have served to further deepen the level of public distrust in the Liberia National Police (LNP) and conveyed the impression that he is in a search for scapegoats.

Given such deep distrust, it remains to be seen how effective the Police can be under such circumstances and what level of success it will be able to achieve. Blaming the opposition for the spate of unexplained killings will certainly not help to bolster public confidence in the Police. 

According to a former security official, the statement from the Police should be seen as a pretext for a clampdown on the opposition not ruling out arrests, assassinations, mysterious accidents and even poisoning, he maintained.  

He said, recalling Ellen Cockrun’s recent confession on radio, that she had refused to agree to the proposed ritual sacrifice of ten virgins, referencing Ophoree Diah and a top government official, cannot be dismissed in view of the regular discovery, in and around Monrovia, of bodies with parts extracted. 

He further said, it is open knowledge that the Police is severely challenged, owing mainly to the lack of adequate support from the National Government. According to him, other challenges include corruption, a critical lack of logistics, a low pay scale, inadequately trained officers and the lowering of the bar of admission into the Police, which has led to the recruitment of unwholesome characters into its ranks.

More to this, the Trial Judges Association have written a letter to the Chief Justice requesting official protection for judges. Their request comes in the wake of violent attacks on the homes of Judges Roland Dahn and Judge Yarmie Quoiquoi Gbeisay. Fortunately, they escaped unharmed but it could have been worse. 

And disappointingly, President Weah, as expected, has not addressed himself to the violence and killings which the Police IG claims is being masterminded by opposition politicians to discredit the Government. The President has maintained a stony silence instead, thus giving room to widespread public speculation that officials of his government are linked to these unexplained murders recently.  Moreover, the energies of the government appear geared towards the celebration of the President’s 55th birth anniversary on today, October 1, 2021. 

And this has naturally, of course, drawn fire from the opposition with the leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, calling for the redirection to the Police of funds earmarked for President Weah’s birthday festivities.

His comments, though belated, appear to have resonated well with the public, thus scoring political points against President Weah. But President Weah appears either disconnected or indifferent. Just why this is so, is difficult to comprehend. But he needs to come to grips with the situation before it gets out of hand.

He should also take cognizance of the fact that everybody cannot be wrong about what is happening in the country. The Inspector-General of Police should also not be pretending that it is fake news and that politicians are responsible for what is going on.

Above all, the IG should take a cue from Finance Minister Tweah’s recent statements informing Liberians and the world that their recent mission to the US was haunted by echoes of the missing 16bn Liberian dollar banknotes the unexplained deaths of the LRA auditors, etc.  According to him, the narratives have to change, whatever that means.

But realistically, if he (Minister Tweah) indeed intends to change the narratives, he should do all within his power and authority to ensure that the Police rises to the challenge and tackles the scourge of unexplained killings currently causing much unease in the public. 

President Weah, for his part, is advised to tone down the scale of what appears to be his lavish birthday celebrations. This is because lavish birthday celebrations will certainly convey the impression that he does not give a hoot about such troubling public concerns.

In the final analysis, as Liberia’s contemporary history shows, the ball will come to rest in his court and he will have to face the music alone. This is why it becomes important to borrow a page from Finance Minister Tweah’s notebook about his recent official delegation being haunted by echoes of past scandals.

Minister Tweah’s revelations should also serve to put on notice the Justice Minister and  Chief of Joint Security, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean and Police IG Patrick Sudue, that they will have to account for their stewardship in the final analysis. 

It is indeed troubling that, in all this, Justice Minister Musah Dean has been quite reticent and has in ostrich fashion buried his head in the sand while the storm rages above. It is he first who has to account, well before President Weah does. And it is he who has the authority to speak to the Liberian people on matters affecting their security.

Unfortunately, he has chosen not to and, instead, delegated responsibility to Police IG Sudue. But the problem is, the IG appears more interested in searching for scapegoats as he has shamelessly blamed the opposition for the rash of recent murders.

This has prompted questions whether his is a search for truth or a search for scapegoats.