By: Sam K Zinnah
On April 26, 2012, life once again became unpleasant & unbearable for residents of portion of Kongba District in Gbarpolu County when some members of the Police Support Unit (PSU) led by Officer Theopheolus Dunor arrived in Kongba District and began beating, looting & shooting between the legs of civilians thus leaving hundreds of affected towns residents to flee for safety. The PSU officers’ actions brought flashback of painful memories to residents of Kongbar when they began discharging fire arms among peaceful civilians. A victim narrates “I swear! I thought the rebels were back again. They were behaving like real rebels. They reminded me of NPFL days”.
Like any war victim, it is very difficult to dismiss memories of the civil war that left painful memories with Liberians. When one experiences war such as the brutal and senseless Liberian civil war, all that one often remembers are memories of painful occurrences and otherwise. Many store these memories as images of their experiences. Some keep them as stories worth telling later on while others use them as their daily guard against mistakes.
On April 27, 2012, more than 15 victims of PSU brutality in Kongbar District in Gbarpolu County gathered at the Capitol building in Monrovia to log complain to their county law makers and to demand justice. While in Monrovia, Gbarpolu County senior Senator J.S.B Theodore Momo Jr called and asked me to gather some information from the victims while he rush back to the capitol building. I immediately drove to the capitol building and met the victims. There was frustration expressed in the faces of the victims. Some were sitting on the ground while others were standing in small groups discussing the horror experienced by them. I introduced myself and softly explain to them the message from the senior senator. In the process of explaining myself, the victims regroup and listened attentively. After my introductory speech, I asked the group to designate one person to explain the occurrences to me. They quickly designated three people who were victimized in different locations to each explain their encounter with the PSU officers along with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) rangers in Kongba District, Gbarpolu County.
According to eyewitness & victim Patrick W Gwaikolo,” On April 26, 2012, PSU officer Theophilus Dunnor and his co-officers entered Timber Village in Kongbar District and put civilians under gun point. While under gun point, Officer Dunnor informed the Town residents that he was sent in the District by Justice Minister Christina Tah to effect arrest of people believed to be doing illegal mining and hunting in the District. After few hours, Officer Dunnor reportedly left Timber Village and proceeded to Amtel Camp where he reportedly entered and search houses while holding pistol/fire arm.
On the same date (04/26/12), PSU officer Theophilus Dunnor reportedly preceded to another Town called Kumgbor. While In Kumgbor, PSU officer Theophilus Dunnor allegedly hand cuff few residents and discharged fire arm between the legs of several residents thus causing pandemonium in the town.
After spending the night in Kumgbor, Officer Dunnor went to Camp Alpha on April 27, 2012 and continued his looting, intimidation and assault on civilians. During his looting extravaganza, PSU Officer Theophilus Dunnor went to Wango village where he and his team assaulted and brutalized tribal (Gio) Governor John Tuah leaving him (Tuah) severely injured. Tribal Governor Tuah was rushed to Monrovia and was admitted at the John F. Kennedy hospital where he spent few days undergoing treatment. After victim Gwaikolo’s narration, I suggested that Police be contacted. We were joined by Gbarpolu County electoral district #3 representative Hon. Getrude Lamin. We went to the Liberia National Police headquarters where we contacted the CID department to report the incident. After few questions from the CID officer Alfred T. Quire, we were told to report to the LNP headquarters on Friday April 27, 2012.
On Friday 04/27/2012 upon return to the LNP headquarters, the CID Department chose Tuesday May 1, 2012 as the date to conduct preliminary investigation into the report. On Tuesday May 1, 2012, victims, and other Gbarpolu County citizens assembled in the conference room located in the CID Department on the second floor of the LNP headquarters to witness the preliminary investigation of alleged PSU officer Theophilus Dunnor and victims of his looting, intimidation, assault and brutality. The CID team was led by C/Supt Alfred T. Quire. The process was observed by Gbarpolu County public defender Cllr. James Lebah. Also in attendance was Chairman of the Gbarpolu County Association in the U.S. “Mr. Sam K Zinnah who is also a law enforcement officer in the U.S. State of Delaware.
The process turned into intimidation instead of investigation. C/supt. Alfred T. Quire was seeing screaming and yelling at victims with intent to intimidate the victims while the alleged perpetrator , PSU officer Theophilus Dunnor was in full uniform and was seeing relaxing and laughing. At some point, Officer Dunnor was seeing whispering to the investigators thus making him part of the team investigating his victims. Prior to the investigation, one of the victims quoted Officer Dunnor as saying “this case is a dead case; you guys are wasting your time, I told your that I was sent by the Justice Minister”. After CID/supt Alfred T. Quire’s yelling contest, victims were told to return to the LNP headquarters to get their charges. The day after, the man who was severely brutalized “John Tuah” was rushed to Monrovia on motorbike. Tuah, whose condition was critical, was taken to the LNP headquarters to be seen by the so called investigators.
Tuah was taken upstairs on the second floor and placed on the floor of the CID conference room where he stayed for hours without being attended to nor seeing by and of the CID officers. Upon my arrival at the LNP headquarters to follow up on the status of the pending charges against the brutalized victims, I was notified that John Tuah was in the CID office but was unable to sit nor talk. I immediately went to the CID conference room where I saw John Tuah laying flat on the floor. I snapped few digital pictures of victim Tuah and decided to go to CID/supt Alfred Quire’s office to notify him about victim Tuah’s condition. I walked towards officer Quire’s office which is located three doors from the CID conference room. Upon arrival at officer Quire’s office, I attempted informing officer Quire about victim Tuah’s condition but officer Quire burst into harsh and unethical verbal attack on me. He screamed “get away from my office! Go to the CID commander and tell him your story!!” at that point, I decided to respond to his unethical behavior. I said to officer Quire “sir, do not scream at me! I’m not here to beg you for any thing, am simply here to make sure you look into this case. I sat in that conference room and watch your unprofessional and unethical behavior yesterday. I’m very disappointed in someone like you who suppose to be a professional Officer”. Officer Quire appeared very surprise at my bluntness.
He sat behind his desk holding his head like it was about to explore. At that point, I gave him one of two options “either you do your job or I go down stairs and bring a pressman who will do your job”. Officer Quire stood up behind his desk and began screaming at the top of his voice again “you can’t bring press man inside here”. I responded to him by saying “unless you tell me this is your private building or you are hiding something inside here, I will bring press man in here. I went down stairs and search for a journalist. When I finally located one journalist from Truth F.M, I took him upstairs in the CID conference room where victim John Tuah was laying flat on the floor. We took some photos of victim Tuah and took him away from the LNP headquarters where he stayed for hours without any attention from the CID officers. We took PSU victim John Tuah to several real where the story was told to journalists and later took him to Sky TV where another interview was done. The story was broadcast on two TV stations and several radio stations.
On May 3, 2012, Gbarpolu County senior Senator J. S. B. Theodore Momo addressed a detailed letter to Justice Minister Christiana Tah and CC to Police Director Chris Massaquoi, VP Joseph Boakai. In the letter, the Senator described the alleged Police brutality in Kongba District Gbarpolu County and urged the Justice Minister to investigate and take appropriate actions where necessary. During a follow up inquiry visit paid to the LNP headquarters by Senior senator Momo and junior Senator Armah Z Jallah and few of the victims on July 6, 2012, the head of the LNP CID department col. Flomo was asked about the status of the case since in fact the case has been languishing between the Justice Ministry and the LNP for more than two months. Col. Flomo explained that he was instructed by his boss to charge the victims and send them to court. He said “I was not instructed to investigate the case; I was only instructed to charge these people and send them to court”. When asked why he has not charged the victims as instructed by his boss, col. Flomo said “there has been lots of intervention from all ankles thus making it difficult to move forward with this case”.
Col. Flomo announced that the Police was in possession of items reported to his office by PSU officer Theophilus Dunnor who led the looting extravaganza in Kongba District, Gbarpolu Couty. Col. Flomo named the items as LD10.000.00, 26 pieces of diamond, and several gram of gold dust. Col. Flomo told the two senators and the victims that the LNP was ready to return the items to the victims. The Col. Instructed one of his staffs to dial the acting Police Director’s number to enable him to establish contact. When acting Police Boss Rose Striker was contacted, the two senators and the victims were instructed to proceed to the Acting Police Boss office. Upon arrival at Acting Director Striker’s office, Senior Senator Momo laid the premises for the visit and the potential danger or clash that lies ahead if the issue in Kongba was not properly investigated.
In her respond, acting Police boss Rose Striker offered her sincere apology to the victims and regreted any inconvenience the action of the PSU or the LNP may have caused the PSU brutality victims and the residents of Kongba. She promised to conduct full investigation into the allegation and deal with any LNP officer(s) found guilty or liable. The LD10.000.00 was returned to Ms. Botoe Kanneh while the 26 pieces of diamond was displayed on acting Police Boss Striker’s desk to be reviewed by Senator Momo and Senator Jallah and the victims. The diamond and the gold could not be signed for because the owners were not present.
To ensure a system of transformation with the intent to touched various aspects of the Liberian society, from consciousness to culture, values and community with the goal to rebuild our nation’s image so as to stimulate growth, and to provide opportunities for local and national involvement in productive activities in not only Monrovia but rural Liberia as well. I firmly believe these things can be done by providing secure environment. In this respect, security, one of which matters most to the people of Gbarpolu County and Liberia as a whole should not be taken for granted especially by the head of Liberia’s justice Ministry.