By Mohammed M. Bamba, Jr
When the history of law enforcement in Liberia is written, you will come to realize that tyrants, human rights violators and dim-witted personalities have passed through the rank thus abusing the real intent of this noble professional.
This action of abuse in Liberia is either the people do not understand the professional conduct of the security apparatus for which he /she is a member or he/she is one tyrant who believes that being a law enforcement officer is going after political opponents or peaceful citizens in a bid to be feared by the citizenry.
That’s why Sir Robert Peel postulated that in order to have an effective police that appeals to the citizenry one must recognize always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect. This is goes to all law enforcement agencies including the DEA, Immigration etc.
The Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency is lacking the public trust right now and people like Abe Kromah will just increase the already resentment the public has in the entity.
Abe Kromah is a representation of the darkest days of our country and the darkest moment in the history of law enforcement. The Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency is in need of a leader who can bring dignity, trust and confidence to the force. Abe isn’t one of those and he will be the reason the public will continue to distrust the force. Winning public approval or trust in this already lame-duck force it requires hard work to build a reputation, enforcing the laws impartially, hiring officers who represent and understand the community, and using force only as a last resort. Abe Kromah can’t do any because he is more political than professional and extremely tyrannical than friendly.
Abraham Kromah was an active member and one of the leaders of the defunct ULIMO K rebel group during our fourteen years of Civil unrest. Abraham Kromah played an active role in the murder of over 250,000 innocent lives whose families are still yearning for justice through the establishment of the economic and war crime court.
According to the TRC Summary Findings which states ;
Count 3: All factions to the Liberian conflict committed, and are responsible for the commission of egregious domestic law violations, and violations of international criminal law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including war crimes violations.
Count 4: All factions engaged in armed conflict, violated, degraded, abused and denigrated, and committed sexual and gender-based violence against women including rape, sexual slavery, forced marriages, and other dehumanizing forms of violations;
Count 7: No faction in particular instituted – in some cases to a very limited extent adequate mechanism to avoid or mitigate massive violations of human rights that characterized the conflict.
Count 9: All factions and other armed groups recruited and used children during periods of armed conflicts.
The TRC reports also determined and recommended that Criminal Prosecution for these violations is necessary and desirable to redress impunity, promote peace, justice, security, unity and genuine national reconciliation. So the report determines that ;
Count 1: All warring factions are responsible for the commission of gross human rights violations in Liberia, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, IHRL,IHL, ICL, domestic criminal laws
Count 3: The massive wave of gross violations and atrocities which characterized the conflict assumed a systematic pattern of abuse, wanton in their execution, and the product of deliberate planning, organized and orchestrated to achieve a military or political objective; disregarding the rights of noncombatants, children, and women, the elderly, disarmed or surrendered enemy combatants, etc.
Count 4: All factions to the conflict systematically targeted women mainly as a result of their gender and committed sexual and gender-based violations against them including, rape of all forms, sexual slavery, forced marriages, forced recruitment, etc.
The TRC reports also classified the “United Liberation Movement-K (ULIMO K)” as a “Significant Violator Group” for committing ‘egregious’ domestic crimes, ‘gross’ violations of human rights and ‘serious’ humanitarian law violations including economic crime in Liberia between January 1979 and October 14, 2003.
These counts of the TRC and the subsequent association of the nominee to the ULIMO -K as an active member is worrisome and only brings fresh memories to the thousands of victims’ families who were killed and now seeing their murderer being appointed over and over in their faces most especially those who were directly affected.
Honourable Senators, just imagine how are these families feeling when those who killed their loved ones are the same people now leading them in the administration of justice in the country?
Abe as AFL Chief of Staff
Abraham Kromah was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Arm Forces of Liberia during the interim government between 1996 and 1997.
No need to tell you that was one of the despotic times in the history of the AFL when Liberia’s ethnically divided armed forces became embroiled in the civil war. Abe has allegiance to one group and begins to reign terror on other ethnic groups. Abe was forced to resign due to his tyrannical nature and the AFL was disarmed by the West African Peace Keeping Force (ECOMOG) in line with a peace accord brokered in Abuja, Nigeria.
Maj. Gen Victor Malu, who was the ECOMOG commander said that the force has the mandate to restructure and trim the Liberian Armed Forces to some 5,000, to be complemented by a 4,000-strong national police because according to him the AFL was factionalized.
Abe’s short stance as AFL chief was marred by a series of human rights violations and abuses. People are hurt and living in a complete distress about the way their perpetrators are still being rewarded with lucrative jobs and mostly placed at a position that bring back fresh memories to them. Like the saying goes ,”All lizards lie prostrate: how can a man tell which lizard suffers from bellyache? In time, the pain will make one of them lie flat on its back, then shall that which has been unknown be made known.” We all think many have forgotten but we may not understand how they feel within and it’s just the little things that will see the eruption of the unimaginable.
The Senators must take notes and find the best way to serve the population that voted them into power.
Abe as 102 of the LNP
Since his appointment as Deputy Director for Operations by Madam Sirleaf in 2013, all Abe could do was to brutalise and harass peaceful citizens with motorcyclists taking the worst of his brute force and unprofessionalism.
It’s no secret that Abe Kromah was well noted for inflicting wound and casualties against peaceful citizens which included Motorcyclists and political activists. This reckless action on his part led to his dismissal by the president in 2015.
In 2015, Abraham Kromah chased a harmless motorcyclist from Broad Street with his assigned 102 police vehicle to the intersection of Carey and Randall Street where he hit the bike with his official vehicle that left the passenger Victor Johnson wounded with his two legs broken. Today, Mr Victor Johnson a breadwinner for his family is amputated (both legs) because of Abe Kromah’s tyrannical and senseless action.
This action on the part of Abraham Kromah violates section 5.6 of the Penal Law of Liberia – Title 26 – Liberian Code of Laws Revised which states ,” (3) Use of deadly force to effect . The use of deadly force is not justifiable to effect an arrest unless it’s (a) The arrest is a felony ,(c ) the actor believes that the force employed creates no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons .
His action also violates section 14.20 of Penal Law of Liberia – Title 26 – Liberian Code of Laws Revised which states , “ A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he : (a) Causes serious bodily injury to another purposely , knowingly or recklessly; or (b) purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. “
Abraham Kromah’s unprofessional attitude at the LNP was validated by his successor Col. Mulbah when he took office after the dismissal of Abe Kromah in 2015.
Col. Mulbah is quoted by the NEW DAWN NEWSPAPER’s July 31, 2015 edition as “Police chief criticizes A.B. Kromah “
The newspaper further quoted, “Deputy Police Director for Operations, Prince Mulbah, has criticized the law enforcement strategies of his predecessor, Col. Abraham Kromah as a “blatant disrespect for our people” and commercial motorcyclists.”
Additionally, Abraham Kromah led the brutal killing of 15 years old Shakie Kamara in 2014 during the Ebola crackdown by the Police and Soldiers in West Point, Monrovia after former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered to seal off the West Point neighborhood and imposed a nationwide curfew. The police led by Abraham Kromah took the decision to raid the community without informing the resident prior to the decision to quarantine the community. Abe Kromah and his men armed with guns along with the AFL shot at peaceful citizens who were only calling for humanitarian aid after their unannounced and arbitrary quarantine. This led to the death of a little boy named Shakti Kamara who was hit by one of the live bullets from Abe Kromah and his men.
The family of little Shakie Kamara are still around and imagines the trauma they might be going through to learn that the man who shot their son is the new LDEA Director who will be charged to lead the fight against drugs in our country.
This barbarism on the part of Abe Kromah was captured by the New York Times reporter Sarah Larimer in the August 20, 2014 edition (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/world/africa/ebola-outbreak-liberia-quarantine.html )
Abe Kromah also witch-hunt journalist and have a history of harrasing the media for their independent reportage. He does this as a hire by politicians and his political partisanship in the administration of justice.
Honourable senators it can be recalled on July 13, 2014, Abe Kromah arbitrarily arrested journalist Octavin Williams who was critical of his leadership and his violation of the rights of peaceful citizens.
Journalist Octavian Williams was arrested and jailed by the Deputy Police Director for Operations, Colonel Abraham Kromah, in what was generally seen as a dubious circumstance to settle the score for critical publications about the president’s family and the police operations.
This arbitrary arrest by Abe Kromah caught the attention of the Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP) which described the arrest and detention of Octavian Williams,” as an unwarranted calculated ploy to clamp down on critical views.”
Abe Kromah’s carnage doesn’t have any limit, it goes across the spectrum of society which makes him very unpopular with the citizens. He targets political opponents for their critical views, hunts down journalists for their critical reportage and intimidates CSOs on their critical stances. How can a man of such be the one leading the charge against drugs? It’s even been reported that he owns several ghettos around the country and he is linked with the importation of drugs into our country using his private security firm Pilot Security.
According to numerous reports as quoted by the frontpageafrica ,” Liberia has one of the highest rates of drug use in West Africa, with cannabis and heroin being the most commonly used, and males are more likely to use drugs than their female counterparts. It is estimated that two in ten youths in Liberia are users of narcotic substances. To sustain the desire and use of narcotic drugs, these young people who live in ghettos, street corners, and cemeteries often resort to crime, including armed robberies.”
Honourable Senators, Abe Kromah lacks the moral and professional ground to be the man who can be entrusted with the mantle of authority at the LDEA to combat illicit drug trafficking and narcotics. The issue of drug trafficking and narcotics has not just begun a national emergency but a global emergency as well. A situation that has caught the attention of the world including the great United States.
In his State of the Union address in 2023, the President of America H.E Joe Biden announced the increasing focus on disruption of illicit drug trafficking, expanding access to evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery, and ensuring every jail and prison across the U.S. can provide treatment for substance use disorders. This holistic approach to combating drug trafficking has resonated across the world and Liberia is no exception.
In furtherance of this global fight against illicit drugs, on July 17, 2023, former President George M. Weah signed into law the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 2023, commonly called the Drug Law as part of his commitment to make Liberia drug-free.
The new law seeks to regulate, restrict, control, limit, or eradicate the illegal export and importation as well as the flagrant use, abuse, and proliferation of narcotic substances within Liberia.
The new law prescribed in Schedule II, the prohibition of categories of drugs which include Acetyldihydrocodeine, Codeine, Dextropropoxyphene, Dihydr, Ethylmorphine, Nicocodine, Nicodicodine, Norcodeine, Pholcodine and Propiram.
Also in Schedule III includes Acetyldihydrocodeine, Codeine, Dihydrocodeine, Ethylmorphine, Nicodicodine, Norcodeine, and Pholcodine. These drugs in Schedule III, according to the law, also fall within this category when compounded with one or more other ingredients and containing not more than 100 milligrams of the drug per dosage unit and with a concentration of not more than 2.5 per cent in undivided preparations.
The drug law further provides penalties for specified offenses such as the unlicensed and unauthorized importation of controlled drugs or substances into the country. It termed the importation of controlled drugs, a felony of the first degree and punishable by a prison term of a minimum of ten years and not exceeding twenty years, consistent with provisions of the Penal Code Section 50.5 and 50.6. The offence shall be a grave offence and shall not be bailable.
The law states that “where the subject matter of the offence is a drug or substances listed in schedule I, or II, III and IV to be used for the purpose of trafficking, the person shall be guilty of a second-degree felony punishable to a prison term of not less than five years and not exceeding ten years. Where the subject matter of the offense is a drug or substances listed in schedule II, III and IV pursuant to the provisions of section 50.5 and 50.6 of the Penal Law of Liberia.”
The fight against drugs requires people with a moral and high level of professionalism to enforce the law without any form of partiality or political appeasement which I believe Abraham Kromah lacks. He is an alleged party to the proliferation and a man with a history of leading young people during the civil wars ; many of them are victims of substance abuse today. They are the one who have been called “zogos “ and we think the man who played a key role in destroying these people’s future can not be the one to rescue others. This is like telling a dog not to eat feces but the only meal you can provide for him is only feces.
The state of our country is threatened by the increase in the consumption of narcotics and the illicit trafficking is leaving us vulnerable as a country. Many young people are becoming society deviant and painstakingly many of whom could be the next senator, representative, minister or president are now living at the mercy of narcotics and substance abuse.
Our society is engulfed with this menace and only people with moral rectitude and a track history of professionalism can tackle this situation. Abraham Kromah falls below all professional, moral and ethical standards to lead the LDEA.
We believe that the Liberian Senate will do the best thing in the interest of our country and people to save the integrity of the LDEA. Our international partners are watching and they are aware of the checkered history of the nominee. A man who can’t travel to the U.S. due to his failure to provide child support thus invading the law of the United States can’t be the one leading the charge to fight this global emergency.
About the author :
Mohammed M. Bamba, Jr is a political activist who holds a Master of Public Administration in Local Government and Rural Development Administration from the Cuttington University Graduate School and Professional Studies.