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Investigate Totota Violence – Citizen Urges

A citizen of Salala District in Bong County is urging the Government of Liberia to speed up investigation into the July 11 unrest in Totota which occasion the firing of live bullets by police at protesters, leaving several people seriously wounded.

Mr. Silas Tokpah expressed the belief that if the investigation is not speedily conducted to bring the perpetrators of the riot to justice, it would be unfair and a threat to the security of ordinary citizens, especially those who were critically injured as the result of the riot.

Mr. Tokpah, however, noted that he was of the belief that the government of President Sirleaf would not want its citizens to share tears at the hands of state security, who should protect them. “We cannot question the wisdom of government about probing the issue because we believe it will be done; all we want is speedy investigation to establish who is the cause of the brutality meted against people who were preaching for their rights to their money,” he added.

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He said he would constructively engage the government until this situation is laid to rest, urging civil society institutions in the county to step up their efforts in bringing the matter to a logical conclusion to avoid a repetition of the July 11 incidence. He, however, called on residents of the Totota Community to remain peaceful and avoid any act that will lead to the destruction of their community and properties.

On July 11, hundreds of residents of the town took to the main street in protest against the police, who allegedly took away a huge sum of money from a man in the area, under the guise of searching his house after being accused of involvement in the sale of narcotic substances. While in the process of searching the house without a search warrant, they allegedly took what was said to be more L$600,000.00.

The man (name not disclosed), according to residents of Totota, is the head of a local ‘susu’ club in the town. Upon the seizure of their ‘susu’ money, Members of the local susu club and residents of the town took to the streets, vandalizing the police station and destroying several properties, including a PSU pick-up truck- a situation that led to the firing of live bullets by the police for fear of being over-powered by the protesters.

Bong County Police Commander Col. Morris Teamah has been heavily blamed for the incidence in his home town on grounds that he reportedly ordered the search. Although Col. Teamah is yet to comment on the situation, many residents of the Totota community denied as misleading that the man in question was dealing in narcotic substances, clarifying that their ‘susu’ head is the proprietor of a medicine store in the town.

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They accused the police of planning the “search” the way they did as a ‘technique’ to steal their money, especially when the man had just come from the bank to make payment to members the next day. Bong County Superintendent Madam Selena Polson Mappay  later arrived on the scene of the violence to call for calm.

Even though one person was reported dead at the Phebe Hospital in Suacoco and later transferred to the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia, the report is yet to be confirmed.

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