“Considering what I have gathered from informal discussions and observations with those who should know, unless some serious efforts are made to beef-up our national security prior to the conclusion of the UNMIL drawdown, the security of this country could be at a risk.”
Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, in a communication dated February 12, 2015, and addressed to the Senate Pro Tempore Armah Zolu Jallah, is requesting an urgent hearing on Executive.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker said such a meeting would require the participation of the heads of all security agencies, including the Defense Minister, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Police Director and the Chief of Immigration.
As UNMIL was “not likely to consent to participate in a public hearing, the Liberian Senate should request a closed door meeting with a representative of UNMIL to assist us in getting a better understanding of the status of the security situation in the country and the post-drawdown security challenges that we may expect.”
Though she is aware that the Senate works through committees and the Defense Committee has the representation of all counties, “[yet] due to the urgency and seriousness of this matter, an executive hearing will get the full participation of the entire Senate, which I think is needed at this point,” the Senator advised.
Senator Lawrence’s communication comes as UNMIL drawdown approaches its concluding stages in June, 2016 and questions are already being raised as to the readiness of the country’s security apparatus to fill the vacuum that may be created.
Some of the issues that need to be addressed, according to Senator Lawrence are: whether the army is at optimal strength or does it require additional soldiers in order for it to become a viable army; are the Army, Police, and Immigration sufficiently equipped to be able to assume their respective mandates, capable of defending the country…?
Senator Lawrence also expressed concern about the morale of the officers and members of the Army, Police and Immigration, and whether they are enjoying minimum benefits, such as accommodations for them and their families.
The document was sent to the Committees on Defense, Intelligence and Veterans’ Affairs, and Judiciary, with the option to do further consultations and report to plenary within two weeks.
Daily Observer reporters around the country have frequently reported on the lack of logistical preparedness on the part of the Joint Security, which includes particularly the Police and Immigration.
A case in point is a story carried last week and again in today’s edition about two gruesome murder cases in Nimba County. The first murder occurred in Beeplay, Buu-Yao Administrative District and the culprit fled to Buutuo on the Ivory Coast boarder where he reported himself to the police station, manned by only two officers. When friends of the victim from Beeplay descended on the Buutuo station with cutlasses and other weapons to revenge the killing of their friend, the two police officers fled the scene, leaving the prisoner at the mercy of the attackers. They chopped him up with their cutlasses and disemboweled him. These murderous avengers had a totally free hand because their numbers were too strong for the two police officers.
There has also been grave concern about the lack of communication equipment, transportation and weapons, leaving the security apparatus at the country’s many border points practically defenseless. That is how Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia were able to begin their invasion of the country on December 24, 1989, igniting the civil war that lasted 14 years.
Senator Kanga Lawrence’s concerns are, therefore, indeed very legitimate and need to be carefully and urgently investigated.