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Liberia: Security Force Urges Weah to Hire Private Guards

The EPS says no law mandates the force to provide security protection for former Presidents

The elite presidential protection unit, the Executive Protection Service (EPS), has told former President George Weah to hire private service if he feels insecure and wants additional security bodyguards.

“The EPS has assigned several well-trained agents with long-term experience to former President George Weah, meaning he is in safe hands,” the EPS said in a press statement issued in Monrovia, on Wednesday, March 20. “But, if he so desires more security protection, he can hire private security guards as former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and then Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai did over the past six years.”

The statement, issued under the signature of the EPS Communication Director, Philip G. Moore, revealed that in Liberia’s recent history, Weah is the first Former President who has received the highest number of bodyguards, though the leadership of the elite security force refused to reveal the total number of officers assigned to the former leader.

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Former President Weah, through the Secretary General of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Jefferson Koijee, recently requested additional EPS officers to beef up his personal security — a request that has been greeted with a barrage of criticisms from the general public.

Koijee, while relaying Weah’s request at a CDC event held last week, resorted to what some perceived as a threat to the safety of current President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

“President George Weah asked for twenty-five EPS personnel,” Koijee said, “but if you cannot provide him that or anything that falls short of that number, we can assure you we will protect him ourselves.

And then, directly addressing President Boakai, Koijee added: “Remember also now, the day we come to the conclusion of protecting President Weah, you can rest assured you won’t go to work.”

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Koijee noted that if Weah’s request is not granted, the CDC will “call for a national protection day for President Weah and, on that day, Mr. Boakai, you will work from home and not the Executive Mansion.”

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Treasury last year sanctioned the CDC Secretary General for stoking violence using his strong influence on Monrovia’s youth. The sanctioning of Koijee, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was imposed due to his alleged involvement in human rights abuses.

Koijee has been accused of instigating violence and controlling paramilitary-style organizations associated with the CDC. According to OFAC, these groups, which allegedly include former combatants and recently released prisoners, have been involved in violently disrupting demonstrations and opposition activities by government critics.

 

 

“Today OFAC designated Jefferson Koijee (Koijee), who is the mayor of Monrovia, Liberia and is a senior leader in the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political party,” the Treasury Department’s OFAC announcement, released December 8, 2023, said. “Koijee has a reputation for stoking violence and has a powerful grip on Monrovia’s youth. He controls paramilitary-style organizations associated with the CDC, which allegedly recruits former combatants and recently released prisoners.

Koijee noted at the recent CDC event, “Don’t push us, don’t push us for we have what it takes to make you uncomfortable; go and do the people’s job, we won’t pretend to you, we don’t seek popularity we are action-oriented characters, we will ask the citizens to join us in protecting President Weah, any attempt.

“And the day we come to protect President WEAH, we won’t leave again, we will protect him till the day we feel comfortable that he’s well protected,” he noted.

However, the EPS, in direct response to Weah’s request for more security guards, stated that there is no law mandating that EPS provides bodyguards for former presidents, former vice Presidents, etc., but it has been a longstanding tradition that the incumbent president usually authorizes security protection for those who had occupied the office before him or her.

In keeping with that tradition, the provision of security protection to the former president and former vice president is automatic; it is not based on a request from the former. And that the size of the detail or bodyguard corps assigned is determined by the EPS based on the threat level around said VIP.

Responding to the information that some EPS officers were dismissed, Mr. Philip Moore said, “On the issue of dismissed and resigned agents, almost all the agents who were terminated have not reported to work since January 2024. Information received by the EPS indicates most of them have left the country. Also, almost all those who resigned are abroad and have communicated their resignation from their jobs to the EPS Human Resource Department.”

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