Nimba — A 40-year-old man has died while in the custody of the Ganta Police Detachment barely three days after his arrest.
The deceased, Joe Kolleh who was a resident of Gbloryee community in Ganta, was being held by police for allegedly owing his friend, Moses Yeanay, LD$ 6,000, police told FrontPage Africa.
Yeanay had hired Kolleh to do a contract for him for the sum of LD$ 40,000 of which amount he paid LD$ 6,000. Kolleh failed to do the contract until he was arrested following a complaint filed by Yeanay on May 4, police say.
Kolleh, who was arrested on May 6, was forcibly restrained during a struggle with the arresting officer, a police source told our reporter.
Police in the county have remained coy on circumstances that led to the death of Kolleh, but the deceased’s family say they suspect a foul play. Fasu Kollie, relative of the deceased, said they found out by text message Sunday from their neighbor that their brother had died in police custody.
A distraught Kollie said the family doesn’t understand how their relative died in police custody. He said the police had not been updating the family since Kolleh passed out. “Our brother never hurt anyone; he had lot of friends. For me, I feel the police is hiding something from the family because they haven’t speaking to us since our brother died,” he said.
He said it was very sad not to have Kolleh at the house anymore. “We used to laugh at jokes he made and he helped me with my children to get them to school. We are broken down as a family. It’s really hard for us to go on,” he said.
He said they have already contacted a lawyer.
Kolleh’s death brings to three the number of suspects who have died in the Ganta Police custody in less than two years.
Upon confirming his death, Kolleh’s nephew Alex P. Mulbah contacted the Professional Standard Division of the Liberia National Police on the matter and made a formal complaint detailing what had transpired and demanded an investigation in the matter so as to form a basis for possible court actions against the perpetrators. During the police investigation, Alex Mulbah give eye witness account of what transpired.
Mulbah testified that the arrest of Joe Kolleh was arbitrary, since the transaction was a civil and not criminal in nature.
Mulbah informed the Police investigation that extreme force was used during the arrest of his uncle adding that the treatment meted against his uncle by the Liberia National Police officers was inhumane.
The family decided to institute a court action against the government of Liberia in damages for wrongful death of their family member. Upon the filing of the case before the 8th judicial circuit court in Nimba County, Mulbah family began to get threatening remarks from the local county authorities as well as the suspended police officers. During the night hours of July 10, 2021, unknown men armed with machetes stormed our family residence threatening to kill them who were seen there and then. We managed to escape in the nearby village where we sought refuge until the next day. The angry men spent more than two hours in search of Mulbah and his family throughout the village.
The following day, Mulbah managed to escape to Monrovia where he met with a human rights group and explained our ordeal to the human rights officer who subsequently filed a law suit against the government of Liberia for the wrongful death of his deceased family member.