Boakai’s “Attacker” Meant No Harm

The unknown individual, whose face is not shown in the video, wore a white long-sleeve shirt and grabbed President Boakai’s chest from behind.

— Special investigative report on UMU commencement incident reveals as EPS takes blame for security breach

The recent Special Investigative Team (SIT) report on the incident of the breach of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s security detail upon his arrival at the United Methodist University commencement has shed light on the intentions of the alleged attacker who made physical contact with the President.

The report clarified that the individual, later identified as Sam D. Kanwea, Jr., did not harbor any harmful intentions towards President Boakai, despite breaching security protocols.

The SIT, in its report presented to the President over the weekend, added that despite his sneaky move to get to the President, he did not go there with an ulterior or sinister motive.

“He did not intend to harm the President despite his surreptitious penetration of presidential security and the physical touching of the President,” the SIT said in its report that was presented to President Boakai over the weekend.

On Tuesday, January 30, Kanwea who penetrated the EPS shield guarding President Boakai, who had gone to grace the 19th commencement convocation of the United Methodist University in Dormah Town, Margibi County, and nearly knocked him over.

The embarrassing security breach rendered the President completely exposed to danger — an incident that led to the public bashing of the EPS for its carelessness.

The incident, captured on video and widely circulated on social and mainstream media, raised valid concerns about the effectiveness of security measures for the country’s leader, who had barely been in office for a month by then. It raised concerns among Liberians who have questioned the efficacy of security measures for the country’s leader.

The SIT recommended charging Kanwea for specific violations of the Penal Law of Liberia, while also pointing out lapses in the security procedures of the Executive Protection Service (EPS).  

The team recommended that the Kanwea be charged in violation of sections 14.22 (Offensive Touching) and 14.23 (Reckless Endangerment of another Person) of the Penal Law of Liberia. It is no secret that the incident had impugned the reliability of state security, particularly the EPS.

Moreover, the report indicated that the failure of the EPS agents to ensure proper security to avoid such an invasion is a violation of the EPS Duty Manual and the Standard Operating Procedure governing the service.

The report further recommended administrative actions against the EPS agents assigned and the continuation of in-service training to ensure enhanced operational capacity and readiness to always provide advanced security service.

In response to the report, EPS Director Sam Gaye assumed full responsibility and pledged to implement enhanced security measures to prevent future breaches. The SIT’s comprehensive investigation involved collaboration with the Liberia National Police, Armed Forces of Liberia, and EPS to ensure a thorough assessment of the incident.

President Boakai expressed appreciation for the report, which includes actionable recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future. He committed to reviewing the report and considering its recommendations moving forward.