Liberia: Drug Enforcement Agency Commander Rushed Out of Session over ‘High Blood Pressure’ During Questioning over Lawmakers’ Involvement with Drugs
CAPITOL HILL, MONROVIA – It was a day full of tension and drama on Capitol Hill on Tuesday when Commander Martha Massaley of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) was whisked out of the Chambers of the House of Representatives while being grilled by the Plenary for linking an unnamed member of the 54th Legislature to illicit drug trafficking.
Agent Massaley, who had appeared stronger and highly spirited, was rushed to an unnamed hospital when she suddenly turned frail and unable to stand and sit after she had endured more than three hours of questioning by members of the House on Tuesday.
Prior to the event, she openly apologized to members of the House for her blatant accusation against an anonymous member and pleaded for forgiveness.
She, along with the Director General of the LDEA, Marcus Zehyoue was summoned by the Lower House for her statement she made to a gathering of high school students at a forum in observance of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Friday, June 25, 2021.
Serving as one of the panelists during the event, she was asked to speak on the challenges grappling the LDEA in its fight against illicit drug and what the agency was doing to address these challenges as it strives to reduce the trafficking of narcotics in Liberia.
In her deliberations, she lamented that the war against illicit drug in Liberia was a tough task owing to the involvement of top VIPs like the unnamed lawmaker, who she claimed was caught with bags of marijuana and cocaine powder at a checkpoint and he got away with them.
She said: “I won’t call his name before I be held in contempt, and for security reasons. He came driving in his big car. And the female officer stopped the car and said ‘Sir, can I just look in that car. She did not know him, but I know him and some of my colleagues know him. And he said even if you search my car and see anything there, you can’t do anything about it. So, no need for you to search my car. So, she said yes Chief, but please give me the benefit of the doubt let me just look in the car. When she opened the car, see the bag of drugs, marijuana one bag, the cocaine parlor (powder) there, the heroin parlor (powder) there. when I saw it, I got up, in an attempt to approach him, already we had bitter blood… he pulled off the car.”
This sparked outrage among members of the House of Representatives and a day after FrontPage Africa broke the story, Massaley and her boss, Director Zehyoue found themselves in the midst of a very charged Plenary and being bombarded with questions from all angles of the ‘sacred’ chambers.
However, Massaley admitted to making the allegation but said that she was not referring to any member of the current 54th Legislature; rather to a member who served the legislature during ‘previous administration.” She openly apologized to the lawmakers and beg for pardon.
She said: “I was invited at a school program commemorating the drug week… Unfortunately, FrontPage Africa did not capture what I said previously. FrontPage Africa only captured the scenario I was giving to the students; something that happened as far back in the previous administration. It has nothing to do with this 54th Legislature. I was giving a scenario to the students to make them to understand what I was saying … So, I am again appealing to this Honorable body for the ugly message that was captured by FrontPage Africa. I extend my sincere apology as we are all human and we can err… so I will again say I am sorry. I am sorry for whatever embarrassment.”
Abrupt and Indecisive Ending
Despite her apologies, majority of the lawmakers were not convinced with her clarity. They kept interrogating her to identify the lawmaker in question.
And based on the request of majority members on the floor, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers ordered the tape to be played during the hearing.
Rep. George Samah (District #12, Montserrado County), who was also present at the event when Massaley made the accusation, suggested that the hearing be held behind closed doors to allow her to speak out freely, adding, she might be afraid to speak in open session.
Rep. Mariamu Fofana (District #4, Lofa County) pleaded with her colleagues to accept Massaley’s apology and grant her pardon.
But most of the lawmakers including Reps. Moima Briggs Mensah (District #6, Bong County), Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis (District #4, Montserrado County), Samuel Kogar (District #5, Nimba County), Ivar Jones (District #2, Margibi County), Clarence Massaquoi (District #3, Lofa County) and Edward P. Flomo (District #13, Montserrado County), among others asked her to identify the lawmaker in question.
Rep. Massaquoi requested her to call the names of the person that drove away with the bags of illicit drugs she eloquently described during her deliberations.
Rep. Flomo asked whether Commander Massaley reported the incident to her superior, and if she did, what was his (Superior) response.
However, when LDEA commander attempted responding to the plethora of questions, she complained that her pressure was climbing high and needed to see her doctor. Few minutes later she was rushed out by LDEA officers to a waiting SUV and taken to an unknown hospital, leading the hearing to an abrupt and indecisive end.