The Liberia National Police (LNP) has denied claims of brutalizing protesting students at the University of Liberia (UL) on Monday, 20 November on Capitol Hill. Police spokesman Sam Collins told the Truth Breakfast Show on Truth 96.1 Fm on Tuesday, 21 November via-mobile that the police did not brutalize anyone as claimed by student leader Jerome Bernard.
Riot officers at the LNP raided protesters at UL on Monday during protest over the closure of registration process for the ongoing academic semester, arresting both prospective graduates and non- graduating students. The campus has seen days of unrest of closure of registration process, while prospective graduates also oppose high graduation fees.
Police Spokesman Sam Collins confirms the arrest of some students on the Capitol Hill campus of the University, but he further denies brutalizing of students. He says the police went on the campus to restore calm as part of its mandate, arguing that brutalizing of students is not to the knowledge of the police. Mr. Collins says police went on the scene because it is a state facility that was under threat.
Mr. Collins notes that the police are under obligation to restore calm to situations as they unfold and to arrest anyone that will put threat to any state facility. But UL student leader Jerome Bernard, appearing on the truth breakfast show on Tuesday claimed that some students were arrested and brutalized by the LNP officers.
He says he met with the president of the University at her office, where she boldly informed him that any attempt to reopen the registration process by UL Authorities would force her to resign her post as president.
According to Mr. Bernard, Mr. Collins had no idea of the things that were unfolding on the campus, so his denial was unfortunate.“I told the police to arrest me, because I am the student leader; this is not about violence,” he says He adds that it was very frustrating for the University not to hire competent individuals to handle the registration process, saying UL authorities must take into consideration the unfolding economic situation in the country where everything is at stand still.
He says if students that are eager to learn, and some of them that are expected to graduate next year will be denied registering, then it is unfortunate. According to him, these are students are not accessing students loans and some don’t have a job. According to Mr. Bernard, the UL Board of Trustees and authorities at the UL were in a meeting discussing on how to reopen the registration process, before members of the Liberia National Police showed up and allegedly started brutalizing their colleagues.
He claims he he was present when the police arrested his colleagues, and they were detained at the police station up to 11 pm before the intervention of River Gee County Senator Commany Wesseh for their release. He however assured all students that the process will be reopened, and he does not want for people who are not living here to bring chaos in the country.
By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley