Contrary to police denial, one of the victims of recent alleged police brutality in Pleebo-Sodoken District, Maryland County, Rufus Geneyan, said they were arrested, handcuffed and thrown behind bars by members of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
Mr. Geneyan explained that on February 12, 2013, youth of the district staged a peaceful protest asking Cavalla Rubber Corporation -SIFCA- a palm oil company operating in the district, to provide jobs for them instead of importing Ivoirian citizens.
He further narrated that the protest was also in demand of a social benefit of US$20,000 that should have been given to the Tubman University annually and as part of the Social Development Fund (SDF) to the county.
Mr. Geneyan said the company has not been able to fulfill this aspect of the concession agreement.
He said while the peaceful protest was ongoing; to their surprise, officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the LNP disrupted the protest and arrested them.
According to him, prior to staging the protest, they informed the City Mayor of Pleebo, Anthony Harmon, the county’s Police Commander, Amos Darpoh, the Special Assistant to the county’s Superintendent and members of the United Nations Police about their intention.
He further noted that the mentioned authorities agreed that they carry out their protest, but warned them to do it in a peaceful manner.
However, reacting to the citizens’ claim, the LNP in a press statement issued on February 19, 2013, described as false and misleading, news of unilateral arrest of peaceful protesters in Pleebo- Sodoken District, Maryland County.
The release signed by Police Spokesman, Sam Collins, said the statement attributed to Representative Bhofal Chambers that his people were being flogged and illegally arrested by personnel of the ERU police lacks every iota of truth.
The police statement further said while the LNP will not violate the constitutional rights of people to protest, it should be done under the confines of the laws.
LNP made it clear in the release that it will not encourage any form of industrial disharmony at any concession site in the country, and therefore warned those in the habit of inciting and taking the laws into their hands to desist.
However, a Writ of Arrest, which copy is in the possession of the In Profile Daily, states that on February 13, 2013, Rufus Geneyan, Jenkins WioFueh, Opa Robertson and PindarousLatoe were ordered arrested for the crime of rioting by Judge A. BoyeeMah, second, Stipendiary Magistrate of Pleebo City.
The writ further states that the defendants were arrested and charged based upon their failure to adhere to police’s instruction to disperse.