By Morrison O.G Sayon
Authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have vowed to deal with protesters and those setting up road blocks as a means of expressing their grievance in the wake of the State of Emergency imposed by the Government of Liberia.
Addressing a major news conference yesterday in Monrovia, Police Director, Chris Massaquoi, said while the Police in conjunction and collaboration with other agencies are deeply involved in the fight against eradicating the Ebola disease from Liberia, there are some citizens, especially the youths, who have elected to be non- law abiding and have elected to continuously engage in wanton violent rioting by setting up roadblocks at various locations at the expense of peace citizens.
The Police through its boss, Col. Massaquoi reminded Liberians that on August 6, 2014, the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, declared a State of Emergency in keeping with Article 86 A & B of the Liberian Constitution. “In that declaration of a State of Emergency, the President said, among other things, that certain rights and liberties under the Constitution will be suspended in the interest of public health and national security,” the police boss said.
Col. Massaquoi said in keeping with the Acts and Statues creating the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Police has the authority to protect life and property and to maintain law and order adding, “Therefore, the public, especially the youths, are strongly warned to immediately desist from all forms of rioting and/or mob violence and setting up roadblocks anywhere in the Republic of Liberia. Anyone or group of persons caught rioting or engaging in any act of mob violence will have themselves to blame when the Police arrives on the scene; let the word go forth that effective immediately, the Police will deal robustly with anyone caught setting up roadblocks in any part of the country, especially in Monrovia, as a form of rioting and/or engaging in mob violence. Again, you will have yourself to blame.”
He noted that the Government will not tolerate people engaging in unlawful acts which challenge its authority to govern. He said a state of emergency means nothing else but a state of emergency. “You must all therefore, remain very law-abiding during the period of our state of emergency. Therefore, please do not test the resolve of the Police to be very robust and uncompromising in maintaining the peace and protecting the safety and security of the state and its people. Accordingly, there will be no demonstration and/or rioting; you have been warned,” Chris Massaquoi added.
Commenting on the issue of mob violence, the police boss said the sudden increase in mob violence since the outbreak of the Ebola virus is of serious concern. He said in recent times, the Police have received and responded to several reports of mob violence in and around Monrovia and elsewhere in the country. “To date, the Police have rescued five accused persons from such situations. In addition, in perpetrating these mob violence, roadblocks are erected, which obstruct the free flow of traffic, including ambulances that are taking Ebola suspects and other patients to the Hospital,” Mr. Massaquoi said.
On the police action, Col. Massaquoi said in order to combat and contain this public menace, and in the face of the escalation of the Ebola causatives, the Police have developed a special operational plan codenamed “Operation Rescue 1 & 2” whose functions are to provide protection for health workers and ambulances going to collect patients and dead bodies, as well as to protect the cremation team from the Ministry of Health.
He added that the police have erected necessary barricades (roadblocks) and checkpoints restricting movements (human and vehicular) to communities declared Ebola-infected.