3 November 2012

Liberia: Extortion, Illegal Detention Brew Tension

Ganta — Tension is said to be mounting in the commercial district of Ganta, Nimba County, over the alleged extortion of money, arrest and illegal detention of peaceful citizens by the Liberia National Police (LNP).

Citizens, especially young people in the city are said to be disgruntled over the arrest and subsequent detention of a man identified as Lawrence Paye.

Paye was reportedly arrested for speaking to journalists about an alleged extortion of L$15,000 from his family.

The family of a 17-year-old girl who drowned recently in a village near Ganta alleged that police officers assigned in the area extorted L$15,000 from them as a prerequisite for burial.

Oretha Kulah, 17, got drowned last week in Garr Lehgain near Ganta, but her father, Orando Kulah, has alleged that a police officer, Arthur Gehnomson and another only identified as Calkreseh of the Crime Services Department demanded L$15,000 from them (family) as transportation reimbursement for visiting the crime scene.

He told reporters that they were compelled to comply with the officers demand to enable them bury the remains of their sister, which was already decaying.

It is not clear whether the police established that there was a foul-play, but our correspondent said the girl's father was later arrested and jailed for speaking to journalists.

Another family member, Lawrence Paye has also been arrested for granting interview on the police's alleged demand for money.

Mr. Paye told a local radio station in Ganta that officers who arrested him took L$1,000.

Ganta Police Commander George Payne confirmed that Lawrence Paye was arrested.

Nimba County Police Commander Tito Lolin could neither deny nor confirm the extortion claims brought against his men, but asked our correspondent to befriend the police.

Police authorities had always frowned on the attitudes of officers who are bent on extorting money for doing a job they are paid for.

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