Liberia: President Weah’s Security Compromised; Time to Weed Out Politics, Denials & Inexperienced Officers From EPS
IN THE WEEKS after his historic 2017 presidential election victory, newly minted President George Weah and his new crew began restructuring the Executive Protective Services.
THE EPS WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE for providing high-level protection for the president and VIPs, replaced the notorious Special Security Service (SSS), which was created and established under the Executive Law, Chapter 49 Section 12.56 in 1966.
UNDER LATE PRESIDENT Samuel Doe, the SSS and the army had overlapping functions resulting into the “unruly” behavior of the security forces.
TODAY, MANY OF EPS officers who were trained during the 12-year reign of former President Ellen Johnson have been sidelined for long-time friends, die-hard partisans of the CDC and friends of the new power grabbers found their way into the EPS.
MURMURS AND SPECULATIONS soon followed about the reemergence of some former remnants from Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) finding their way back into the security fold by way of the EPS.
THE EPS BRASS quickly dismissed those reports regarding the alleged absorption of hundreds of ex-fighters and recruits with questionable characters.
INTERESTINGLY, MANY former officers of the EPS who had been dismissed under the previous government for a variety of reasons including conduct unbecoming and failing to conform to authority.
MANY OF THOSE brought on board were poorly recruited, vetted, and mostly incompetent folks whose only qualification came by way of being partisans of the new ruling party.
UNDER THE PREVIOUS government, recruits and officers were trained for six-months before given consideration for training – and many did, traveling to Algeria, Ghana, Egypt, the United States of America and China to improve themselves and better improve them for the protection of the presidency.
DESPITE NUMEROUS editorials and articles advising the new government about the dangers of putting the presidency at risks, many of those loyal to the Presidency, entrapped under a spell of sycophancy dismissed the reports and labeled the press as enemies of state.
NOW, IT APPEARS, chickens are coming home to roost, and those early decisions have already begun to backfire amid growing evidence of the EPS has failed to provide the necessary protection for President Weah.
“Good evening Mr. Sieh am glad you thought it prudent this time to verify a story before reporting; unlike all of your previous reports against the EPS which were one-sided. Yes, a mad man forced his way through security barriers while he was been questioned. He was later arrested and turned over to the police. Have a blessed night.”MR. TROKON ROBERTS, DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE PROTECTIVE SERVICE, when contacted last week about the alleged intrusion of President Weah’s home
LAST THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2020, an unidentified man made his way past officers of the EPS into the President’s house in the ELWA Rehab community. Bystanders who witnessed part of the incident told FrontPageAfrica at the weekend that the man had mysteriously made his way past EPS officers on duty.
SINCE THE INCIDENT, FPA has gathered through multiple sources closed to the presidency, that several of the EPS officers guarding the president’s home were investigated and some have been reassigned.
FPA WAS LATER informed that the intruder was a mad man who had somehow managed to avoid the EPS officers and make his way into the president’s home in the ELWA-Rehab Community. A glass door was reportedly broken as a result of the intrusion.
WHEN CONTACTED, MR. TROKON ROBERTS, Director of the EPS reluctantly confirmed the incident but resisted persistent inquires to clearly explain what actually happened.
SAID MR. ROBERTS: “Good evening Mr. Sieh, am glad you thought it prudent this time to verify a story before reporting; unlike all of your previous reports against the EPS which were one-sided. Yes, a mad man forced his way through security barriers while he was been questioned. He was later arrested and turned over to the police. Have a blessed night.”
PRESSED AS TO WHETHER the man made his way into the President’s bedroom and what is the current status of the EPS officers on duty, Mr. Roberts declined to comment further. However, FPA was informed late Monday that because of the incident, the EPS officers assigned at the President’s home have all been removed and replaced by soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who have been placed on temporary guard duty pending probe of the incident.
THE HEAD of the EPS was given every opportunity to explain the details of what actually happened at the President’s home but chose not to.
LUCKILY FOR the EPS officers on duty, FPA has been informed, the President was reportedly away from the house and at his Jamaica Road Resort. The news triggered anger and disbelief that the last line of defense against the presidency had taken their eyes off the ball.
THE LAPSES of the EPS clearly illustrate that the EPS under Mr. Roberts and Mr. Henry Wolo have failed the Liberian presidency.
PRESIDENT WEAH HIMSELF is taking a risk with his own safety and security by allowing sycophants and party loyalists to put his life at risk by filling the EPS with a bunch of inexperienced people, poorly vetted and trained.
FOR HIS OWN safety and security, the President should revisit his decision to sideline those highly-trained officers from the Sirleaf era and bring them back into the fold.
IT IS HIGH TIME that Liberian leader begins building institutions that stand the test of time and not the moment when they are in power.
INSTITUTIONS LIKE the EPS should be created to protect the presidency and not the individual in the seat of the presidency.
AS WE ARE NOW SEEING, such a sensitive job that requires protecting the life of the presidency, warrants trained and dedicated people who can detect and distinguish good apples from bad apples, mad men or women from sane ones and people who know when to pull the switch on and when to pull it off.
AS A RESULT of the weekend’s incident, the EPS officers assigned at the President’s home have been investigated and reportedly reassigned – and replaced with officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
NO REASON has been given for the replacement of EPS officers with AFL albeit temporarily. What is striking is that the law creating the EPS gives them the power to provide protection and security for the president and all other VIPs.
THE PRESIDENT’S office, in a statement claims that the deployment of the AFL soldiers is part of an established routine consistent with coordination, cooperation and collaboration strategies designed by the joint security during the State of Emergency.
IF, AS THE EXECUTIVE MANSION claims, the AFL deployment in no way usurps and obviates the functions and duties of the EPS, but rather complements it, it does raise serious questions about the timing.
WHY WASN’T’ this deployment done immediately after the President’s announcement of the SOE but rather immediately after the incident at the President’s home?
THE EXECUTIVE MANSION has not clearly explained the circumstances surrounding the incident except that “the mentally ill man did not enter the home of H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah” contrary to FPA report.
LOST IN THE EXECUTIVE MANSION’S RESPONSE is what many are wondering: If this was just a random case of a mad man entering the President’s home from the back, who conducted a test to determine the man’s sanity? More importantly, if it was determined that he was mentally retarded, why did officer on duty abused man’s right by beating him up unmercifully as shown on the video shot by one of the EPS officers on duty.
ALSO, WHY has the Executive Mansion not addressed the issue of the reported broken glass in the President’s home, allegedly done by the supposed “mad man”?
THE ‘MAD’ intruder, who the EPS Director claim was turned over to the police apparently has not been as a new graphic video emerged Tuesday showing him being beating up and abused by officers of the Liberia National Police.
ALL THIS is bad for Liberia’s image and bad for the image of the presidency.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER is, those currently involved in the protection of the presidency have failed – and they should be removed from their positions. Not just because it is the right thing to do but also because, it could be the best decision President Weah could make at this time, to save himself from another embarrassment – and his life, from further endangerment.