9 March 2018

Liberia: Police IG Fumbles - 'I Am New On the Job'

The Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Patrick Toe Sudue has apologized for unilaterally allowing motorcyclists on major roads in the city once regulated as "No Go Zones." Sudue admitted being new on the job with barely a month experience as IG.

"I will like to say to this plenary and the committee on security, defense and intelligence that I am sorry for not consulting this body and all stakeholders; I am new in this position and that will be a learning piece for me. I will correct those mistakes, and I will also take key note as to what to do next time, " IG Sudue told the Senate convening in its refurbished Chamber, where proceedings were often interrupted by power outage and malfunctioning intercoms.

The IG's appearance before the Senators yesterday was as a result of two separate communications received by two Senators in which they raised concerns, and were seeking clarity over the reemergence of commercial motorcycles on the main streets of Monrovia which were once regulated as "No Go Zones."

In his response to questions of why he decided to lift the ban that was imposed after lengthy consultations among security personnel in the country, Col Sudue disclosed that when he took over as Inspector General "we already met the ban lifted or relaxed because of the General and Presidential Elections; so in order to further regulate the motorcyclists, we chose to re-enforce this ban because I know that the coming into play of this regulation was not from the angle of one individual or the LNP; I know lots of conversations were held prior."

However, Inspector Sudue clarified that it has not been his hope or that of the administration of the LNP to lift the ban on motorcyclists. Rather, they were enforcing it. He said the LNP has not given a 100 % lift to the two areas currently used as test.

But commenting on the IG's clarification, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence described his action as the biggest mistake. She suggested to plenary that the matter be taken seriously, asking the police to go back to the drawing board, instead of relaxing one area.

She informed her colleagues that the Capitol Building was being surrounded by hundreds of motorcyclists waving placards, a situation she said reminded her of the time when former Police Director Chris Massaquoi besieged the Capitol Building with hundreds of armed police while he was responding to the Senate's invitation.

Senator Lawrence wondered how the hundreds of motorcyclists managed to pass the many police checkpoints to reach the gates and lay siege to the Capitol Building. "Their being here must have met the approval of the police, and that should be something that we consider seriously, and the Senate will need to know how will you penalize motorcyclists that passed through those routes that they shouldn't have passed through."

For his part, Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson lashed at Inspector Sudue for overlooking his security partners and going ahead to lift the ban on two areas. "I think you need to apologize to those partners who you are supposed to be working with, and never again should you take unilateral decisions."

In its closing motion, the Senate requested the police to work together with the security committee of the Senate and observe the two areas already placed under test by the LNP, and after a while report back to the Senate.


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