Authorities at the Ministry of National Defense (MOD) in Monrovia have sharply reacted to a recent call to recruit wayward and drug-addicted Liberian youth, otherwise known as “Zogoes,” into the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
The ministry said its attention has been drawn to a statement attributed to Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, political leader of the opposition Liberty Party, calling for the recruitment of Zogoes into the national army.
“We will use the AFL as a vehicle to assist with the development of our country. We will establish auxiliary units such as the agriculture and engineering battalions, and in the medical department, in which Zogoes and other troubled youth, as well as average young Liberians who may so desire, to be trained as carpenters, painters, masons, electricians, plumbers, and farmers,” Brumskine said at a recent rally.
In no unmistakable term, the MOD said it totally disagrees with any and all future Commanders-in-Chief who harbor the desire of conducting political recruitment of “Zogoes” into the AFL.
“Such action on the part of any future Liberian leader has the propensity to summarily dampen the professional content of the force and it points to a deliberate breach of the legal requirements for eligibility for service into the AFL and the method of recruitment as articulated in sections 7.2 and 7.3 of the New National Defense Act respectively,” the Ministry said in a statement.
Additionally, the statement continued, “applicants have to be approved by the Joint Personnel Board (comprising a representative each from the civil society, the U.S. government, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and chaired by the Minister of National Defense).”
The MOD further views Brumskine’s call for recruiting Zogoes into the AFL as a flagrant disservice to the efforts of United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as other bilateral partners, particularly the United States government, which have over the years invested both human and material resources aimed at creating a professional, properly trained and equipped security apparatus that is apolitical and subordinated to the Constitution of Liberia.