By Lincoln G. Peters
The Liberia National Police (LNP) has exonerated six top officers from all charges in connection to police’s inaction or inaction when rioters brutalized protesting students of the University of Liberia on Independence Day, 26 July 2022.
The LNP through its Professional Standard Division (PSD) also suspended some top officers for their alleged roles in connection to the same incident.
The police authorities’ decisions were announced over the weekend while releasing investigative findings into the bloody attack against University of Liberia – based Students Unification Party (SUP) by members of the Coalition for Democratic Change Council of Patriots (CDC- COP).
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DC) Atty. Peter K. Gbanyah, LNP Head of Legal Division, named Officers Walter B. Wray, II; Police Spokesman H. Moses Carter, Sr.; and Patrolman George Hilton Swen as those suspended.
But Atty. Gbanyah said due to lack of sufficient evidence, the PSD exonerated DCP. Prince T. Davies; DCP. Joshua During; DCP. John M. Saar; Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Johnny Dwaryenneh, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Emmanuel S. Jarwee, and Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Stephen Kpakio.
He said based on the PSD’s investigative findings, Commissioner Walter B. Wray, II, (U-105) was relieved of his post and suspended for 3 months.
Atty. Gbanyah cited Officer Wray’s inaction such as receiving information that the CDC-COP was after SUP protesters and failing to move the Formed Police Unit (FPU) to ensure that the two groups did meet.
Atty. Gbanyah disclosed that the officer’s action contravenes Administrative Instructions (AI) on Discipline and Professional Standards Section 6.4 (Category 2 offense).
He detailed that it also contravenes the LNP Disciplinary Regulations of 2016 Section 8.2 (c) captioned: “Neglect of Duty,” which penalty ranges from reduction in rank to removal and or suspension.
Regarding the Chief of Press and Public Affairs, DCP H. Moses Carter, Sr., Atty. Gbanyah stated that the Administration of the LNP has immediately suspended him for a period of two weeks off the job.
Mr. Carter’s suspension took effect on 5 August 2022 without salary for failure to follow lawful instructions, insubordination and neglect to complete official duties, Atty Gbanyah added.
He said this act contravenes Chapter 3 Section 1.13 and 1.21 of the Police Duty Manuel captioned: “Prohibited Conduct’’ and Section 5.1 (b) and (P) of the LNP Administrative Instructions on Discipline and Professional Standards Captioned Misconduct.
As for Patrolman George Hilton Swen, Atty. Gbanyah said he was suspended for two months for smiling when someone was being assaulted, scraped naked with blood oozing from the victim’s mouth.
Atty. Gbanyah explained that this incident occurred in Officer Swen’s plain view and he did nothing to rescue the victim, Christopher Sissulu Sivili.
According to the LNP, prior to the July 26, 2022 incident, the LNP Operations wing launched an operation plan for the Independence Day celebration in which senior officers were appointed.
It said Officer John M. Saar was appointed as Incident Commander; Walter B. Wray, II, Assistant Silver Commander; and DCP. Godfrey Kollie, Head of FPU.
The LNP is also named DCP. Prince T. Davies, Head of Drill Ceremony; DCP. Joshua During, Escort Coordinator for foreign guests; and ACP Johnny Dwaryenneh, Chief of patrol.
The police recalled that members of SUP had issued a press statement on 18 July saying it would hold a demonstration on 26 July 2022 aimed at drawing the government’s attention to ‘economic hardship in the Country.’
The LNP said SUP planned the hold the demonstration under the banner “Fix the Country.’’
It noted that the SUP was peacefully carrying on the demonstration before the US Embassy near Monrovia.
On the other hand, the LNP added, a pro-government group calling itself the CDC – COP also released a press statement that it would have countered the SUP ‘Fix The Country’ protest.
The police continued that this actually took place and led to student Christopher Sisulu Sivili allegedly being beaten and scraped naked as well as several properties being damaged.
The police reported that the gathering was characterized by violence thus resulting in injuries to Student Christopher Walter Sivili.
On the day of the incident, police said Abdurahman Barrie, President of the AMEU student union was arrested, investigated and detained at the LNP Central headquarters.
He was later released to his lawyer with the understanding that he would be brought back along with his colleagues.