Heritage (Monrovia)

3 December 2012

Liberia: Security Threatened At Liberian-Ivorian Border

Photo: Glenna Gordon/UNHCR
An Ivorian refugee gets a lift on a motorbike taxi to Zwedru in southeastern Liberia.

Officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) assigned in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties are said to be finding it extremely difficult in executing their assigned task in the absence of stipend and money for fuel and maintenance of vehicles.

Liberia shares border with Ivory Coast thorough Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties.

According to credible report gathered by the Independent Authoritative Heritage, the ERU officers assigned in these counties, for the past four months, have not received their stipend and money for fuel and maintenance of vehicles. Already, several operational vehicles have broken down due to lack of maintenance, the report divulged. However, the report made it clear that the ERU officers are receiving their monthly salary on time. But their monthly salary is not meant for stipend and the purchase of fuel and maintenance of operational vehicles.

In the absence of stipend and money for fuel and maintenance of operational vehicles, the ERU officers cannot function effectively, the report further divulged. The report emphasized that the ERU officers assigned in these counties are facing hardship in the performance of their solemn duties.

The ERU officers are tasked with the responsibility of protecting defenseless citizens from the increasing violence along the Liberian and Ivorian border. The Liberian government through authorities of the LNP deployed several ERU officers in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties following renewed attacks on a border post on Ivory Coast's impulsive western frontier with Liberia involving the Ivorian military and dissidents in August of this year.

Ivorian authorities had persistently blamed the series of attacks on loyalists of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo who refused to step down after losing the November 2010 election to current President Alassane Ouattara. The post election crisis plunged the country into violent chaos from December 2010 to April 2011. It claimed about 3,000 lives. Gbagbo is currently being held in The Hague where he faces charges against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Accordingly, the report, which was obtained from sources within officialdom, among other things added that the unbearable situation has forced the ERU officers to trek long distances in full gear, leaving many exhausted. Meanwhile, some keen security observers have described the plight of the ERU officers assigned at the Liberian-Ivorian border as a looming threat to national security. The security observers want the plight of the officers addressed by the government urgently in a bid to bring relief to them. According to them, the plight of the ERU officers is national priority and must be addressed urgently to avert what they called looming threat to national security.

When the Heritage contacted authorities at the LNP for comments regarding the plight of the ERU officers assigned in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland Counties, the Deputy Police Director for Operations, Abraham Kromah, said the LNP has its constraints, but was working to address the plight of ERU officers and other officers of the force.

But Kromah did not speak to report gathered by this paper that the ERU officers assigned in the counties mentioned have not received their stipend and money for fuel and maintenance of vehicles for the past four months, and that as result of this, they (ERU officers) are unable to carry out their solemn task effectively. All he said there are problems and the LNP authorities were working to address the problems

At the same time, the Director of Media Services at the Ministry of Finance has disclosed that the Ministry has disbursed the amount of $150,000 (One hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) for police operations. Mr. Sidiki Trawally told Heritage that the amount disbursed is part of the police's budget request of $330,000. He made the disclosure in response to claims in some quarters of Monrovia that MoF was not addressing budgetary requests on time thereby undermining the operations of government functionaries.

The MoF Media Services Chief also informed Heritage that Minister Amara Konneh has instructed his Expenditure Department to make sure the LNP receives the balance of the total amount before December 25th. According to Mr. Trawally, Minister Konneh has profound respect for the national police and has pledged his unwavering support to the operations of the police to protect lives and properties across the country.

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An Ivorian refugee gets a lift on a motorbike taxi to Zwedru in southeastern Liberia.

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