The Liberia’s National Security Alert: President Johnson-Sirleaf’s Government Needs Discipline to Stay the Course

By Rufus S. Berry II

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 17, 2006


The Right Person for the Job
Former US President Clinton and Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia

Liberians made the right choice by electing Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as their President. Not only is she qualified, but also she brings much needed international credibility to the Liberian government. Over the past few months, she met with several of the world’s most prominent leaders in order to advocate international support for the rebuilding of the republic. She has been in office less than eight months, and has already restored clean running water, and electricity to Monrovia. In drastic comparison, Charles Taylor was in office more than six years, and failed to provide these basic necessities to the Liberian people. Likewise, Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, and his transitional government were in office for two years, and also failed to provide these services to the Liberian people.

President Johnson-Sirleaf’s greatest accomplishment is the hope she ignites in the hearts of the Liberian people. An entire generation of children is seeing working streets lights for the very first time. The women of Liberia, who make up more than half of the population, are hopeful that their civil rights will be protected, with the passing of the anti-rape law.

President Johnson-Sirleaf has accomplished a lot in this short period of time, but a well trained and disciplined staff is critical to further rebuilding, and the protection of Liberia’s national security.

Boot Camp” Needed for Liberia’s Special Security Service (SSS)

Liberia has been plagued by morally undisciplined government officials, throughout her history. This lack of discipline birthed an insidious culture of corruption that pervaded Liberia’s past governments. President Johnson-Sirleaf must stamp out this entrenched corruption from every government agency, starting with the SSS, or the safety and stability of the nation will be at risk.

Liberia’s Special Security Service’s (SSS) primary duty is to protect the President, Vice President, their immediate families, visiting heads of state, and their spouses traveling with them. No member of the Special Security Service (SSS) should discuss security means or methods in any detail, nor give an interview to the media. Doing so endangers the safety of the President. The security of the nation hinges on the security of the President as she represents peace, stability and a bright future for the nation. She alone has garnered global respect and international support for Liberia’s rebuilding.

Deputy SSS Director Ashford Peal conducted an interview while on duty. Could you imagine if President Bush’s Secret Service gave a live interview while escorting the President to a specific location? During the interview with FrontpageAfrica, Director Peale said, “I’m working right now as we speak. Director Massaquoi and I just took her to Harbel. As a matter of fact, we are riding the same vehicle as I speak to you.”

The actions of the SSS Deputy Director Peale illustrate Liberian official’s desire for publicity at the expense of those that they claim to protect.

No member of the SSS should inform the media about the location of the presidential convoy. Deputy Director Peal’s discussion of the President’s position is a national risk to the President’s security. A press officer of the SSS should give all interviews pertaining to members of the SSS. If the SSS does not have a press officer, they should immediately hire one.

Recently, SSS Officer, Emmanuel Williams was killed due to the unprofessional behavior of SSS officers. Officer Williams was shot outside the home of SSS Director Chris Massaquoi at 3:30AM. If the SSS is to be effective, they must be disciplined. SSS members responsible for the death of Officer Williams should be given administrative leave pending the trial. Those found guilty must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Both Mr. Christopher Massaquoi and Ashford Peal have been extremely loyal to President Johnson-Sirleaf. Both men have gained her trust and confidence, nevertheless, President Johnson-Sirleaf is the President of all Liberians, and she must not put her personal affiliations ahead of the nation’s security. She is the mother of Liberia, and the hope for the healing, rebuilding, and reconciliation of our beloved country.

Justice for the Nation

According to, a six-man ECOWAS team recently conducted an audit, and determined that NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, and Vice Chairman, Wesley M. Johnson were involved in massive fraud and illegal payments. Bryant’s top lieutenants: Minister of Finance, Lusine Kamara, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Sam Wlue, Deputy Minister of Finance for Administration, Tugbe Doe, and Minister of Finance (head of Liberia’s fraud investigation), Albert Quaye were also charge with massive fraud and illegal payments. President Johnson-Sirleaf responded by turning the names of these individuals to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.

If the indicted are found guilty, President Johnson-Sirleaf must freeze all of their assets. If found guilty, each of these former government officials must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

In the light of the recent ECOWAS audit report; President Johnson-Sirleaf should put a moratorium on the appointment of former NTGL Vice Chairman, Wesley M. Johnson as Liberia’s next ambassador to the United Kingdom. The moratorium would be pending the results of the Ministry of Justice investigation. If President Johnson-Sirleaf continues with his nomination as Liberia’s next ambassador to the United Kingdom without clearance from the Justice Ministry, Liberian citizens must advocate that the British government reject his nomination.

The rest of the world has already taken drastic measures to eradicate corruption in Liberia. The United Nations Security Council listed Charles Taylor, his colleagues, and other Liberian individuals as international security risks in resolution 1521 (2003). The resolution mandates that all countries bar entry of these individuals. This resolution also directs all nations to immediately freeze the financial assets and economic resources controlled directly or indirectly by Charles Taylor, Jewell Howard Taylor (Charles Taylor’s ex-wife), Cyril Allen, Edwin M. Snowe Jr., Benoni Urey and a number of others. Foreign governments and foreign financial institutions are globally enforcing this UN non-corruption resolution.

Unfortunately the Liberian government has not enforced the freezing of these funds inside Liberia. Furthermore, Liberian financial institutions have not frozen any assets in Liberia. As a result, Edwin M. Snowe Jr., one of Charles Taylor’s aides was able to use embezzled funds to buy votes for his current position as Liberia’s Speaker of the House of Representatives. This is the third most powerful position in the republic. Speaker Snowe’s access to these stolen funds made his political maneuvering possible, in spite of UN resolution that mandated the freezing of his assets. In the same vein, Charles Taylor’s ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, who is also on the UN travel ban and frozen assets list, was able to used embezzled funds to win her seat as senator for Montserrado County.

The whole world, and international financial institutions are helping the Liberian people stamp out corruption; yet, Liberia’s own government has not enforced the measures at home. What message are we sending to the international community? Security for the Liberian people should be the number one goal of President Johnson-Sirleaf’s government.

God bless us all.

About the author: Rufus S. Berry II is the outgoing president of the Liberian Community Association of Northern California. He initiated and managed two humanitarian aid missions to Liberia in 2004 and 2006.
© 2006 by The Perspective

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