Liberia’s newly nominated Inspector General of Police is on bended knees here, seeking confirmation from the Liberian Senate, despite being kicked out on Monday by senators to go resolve the continuous demonstrations by students of the state-owned University of Liberia, who are demanding the UL Administration to allow them complete registration process for the current semester, which had since ended.
The IG-designate, Col. Patrick Sudue, who was nominated by President George Manneh Weah, had gone to the Joint Chambers of the Liberian Legislature for confirmation proceedings as was scheduled for yesterday, February 5, in Monrovia by the secretariat of the senate.
He replaces former Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman, who got cut off in the political transition that saw ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf transferred power to President George Manneh Weah.
Coleman is credited for bringing remarkable reforms to the LNP in little over a year under the Sirleaf administration, rebranding the police and giving the institution an improved public image.
The nominee patiently waited as Labour Minister-designate, Moses Kollie and officers of the elite Presidential guard, the Executive Protection Service or EPS went through with hearings.
Col. Sudue, without delay mounted the stage, awaiting the Senate’s Sergeant-at- arms to administer the oath, but to his dismay, the process was quickly halted by Lofa County Senator Stephen Zargo, who shouted above his voice, that the police boss cannot go through confirmation until persistent demonstrations organized by young people believed to be students of the University of Liberia are put under control.
Col. Sudue bowed in shame, as he and his loyal comrades could not hold back their emotions, falling on their faces and begging members of the senate to proceed with the confirmation with promise that necessary measures will be put in place in restoring law and order on the UL campus.
Senator Zargo, who is a former staff of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Liberia National Police stresses that the public especially, parents are interested in how the matter could be resolved amicably void of police brutality, and when they should expect their children back in class.
But despite the appeal from the police to the group of senators, the confirmation was turned down. In few seconds, the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers was empty.
Col. Sudue subsequently told this paper that he had sought that the confirmation be held next Wednesday, February 14, but it is not clear whether the senators will adhere to his appeal.
Last Friday, February 2, protesting students barricaded the main street connecting central Monrovia to the rest of the capitol with burning tires, preventing cars from plying the streets.
The protesters charged that administrators were preventing them from registering even though they had already paid all fees through the bank as required by the institution.
Chanting slogans, “We don’t want Weeks; Weeks Must Go;” the students also displayed placards, demanding, “Mamie Water Weeks Must Go; Jezebel Weeks Must Go” and “8,000 Students Must Be Registered!”
The protest is against UL President Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, who allegedly refused to allow resumption of the registration process despite students had made deposit in the university’s account but the account department had reneged in issuing official receipt.
The aggrieved students also hauled large stones on the road, obstructing vehicles from freely coming in or going out. Passersby, who tried taking pictures or shooting videos on personal mobile devices, suffered consequences. Some of them lost their phones as angry protesters rushed on such persons, seized their phones and damaged them.
Things were briefly brought under control through the intervention of House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers, but the demonstration resumed Monday morning, this time around, on the Capitol Hill campus of the University of Liberia.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne