Gunshot at UP Convention: Executive Protection Service Officer Injured
Gbarnga, Bong County – Less than two weeks after the United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL turned over security to Liberian security forces, a scarring incident occurred at the ruling Unity Party Convention in Gbarnga, Bong County where President Ellen Johnson was present with dispute between Presidential elite guards from the Executive Protection Service (EPS) resulting to discharge of firearm creating fear for many.
Report by: Selma Lomax, [email protected]
Unity Party’s Partisans attending their annual convention in Gbarnga, Bong County were said to have fled helter scatter as early as about 1: 00 am on Saturday morning after an officer of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) fired on of his colleagues in the leg during a heated argument outside the convention hall.
The partisans who were outside the hall of the convention awaiting the results of the party wildly ran in the hall, while other partisans sought safety into nearby vehicles that were in close proximity to the scene of the dispute.
The situation was said to have claimed the attention of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai, who were in the hall during the melee between the EPS officers, as their respective security guards rushed outside the hall to calm the situation.
The officer, whose identity has not been established by FrontPageAfrica, was said to have been drunk when our reporter arrived on the scene moments after the shooting.
It took over 10 EPS officers for over 30 minutes to disarm the officer, a situation that brought the ballot counting process to a standstill. The EPS officer was apprehended before been taken to the headquarters of the Gbarnga Central Police, while his injured colleague was rushed to the Phebe hospital for medication.
Efforts exerted by FrontPageAfrica in taking the photo of the EPS officer at the headquarters of the Police station during inquiry proved futile.
Girlfriend feud sparked shooting
An EPS officer, who spoke to FrontPageAfrica on condition of abnormity, said his two colleagues unknowingly befriended a girl whom they had met at a local entertainment center close to the venue of the convention on different occasions the same day.
“The two guys on different occasions went to Paulma, the club at the junction of the Administration building and met the girl and offered her, and both of them unknowingly planned to sleep with her but one of them chose the other guy over his friend thus resulting into the conflict”, an EPS source told FrontPageAfrica.
Another EPS source said the two EPS officers had earlier attempted to fight at Paulma but were separated by Police officers who had also gone to the club to eat.
Police coy on the matter
Police officers who were on the scene of the dispute refused to speak to FrontPageAfrica for fear of being sacked. ‘I am sorry; I can’t speak on this matter my brother. This situation is beyond our functions as Police officers.
This is a security matter and the right people involved will handle it at their level. Anything we say here will go against us,” a Police officer at the Gbarnga Central Police told our reporter.
Partisans slam EPS officers
Some partisans who spoke to FrontPageAfrica said the act was troubling and signaled yet another moment to highlight the inexperience of Liberian security apparatus especially in the wake of the handing over of security to Liberia by the United Nations Mission in Liberia.
According to Obediah Weahweah, a partisan from Zota district, the shooting of the EPS officer by his colleague over argument involving loved one has further exposed the fragility of the security and sends a caveat to Liberians about the inexperience of the security forces.
It is frustrating for EPS officer to engage in a fistfight outside of the convention hall when all of the party executives are in attendance,” he added.
Marcus Teleweyoun, another partisan from Lofa County is calling on the Director of the EPS to take the necessary action to avoid the recurrence of the incidence. In his words, he said: “I hope the EPS will take the necessary action to avoid another occurrence as this action has the tendency to cause stirs among citizens as it has done to us here tonight,” he said.
It can be recalled that some officers of the EPS and Police Director Chris Massaquoi were involved in a melee in Monrovia which led to the destruction of Police boss official vehicle.
The incident took place when Police Director was prevented to coming close to the Presidents’ car but the scuffle claim public attention after the EPS and Police offers publicly tussle over weapons.