The Analyst (Monrovia)

3 January 2013

Liberia: 'You've Save My Life' -Pres. Sirleaf Tells Executive Protection Service (EPS) -Says it Could Step Into UNMIL's Shoes

Depending on the security situation on the ground, the originally 15,000-strong robust UN intervention force, UNMIL, will begin a drawdown that will eventually see its complete departure from Liberia. When that happens the reformed but uncertain-footed Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the reformed but yet-to-be-trusted Liberian National Police (LNP), will take over the nation's security. Not many Liberians doubt that that will be the beginning of the undoing of the nation's close to a decade of relative peace and stability. And they are right, so security observers had thought. But President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf thinks otherwise: the Executive Mansion Protection Service (EPS) will fill the security vacuum that will be created by UNMIL's departure – at least at the level of the presidency. The Analyst, reports.

"You have saved my life for years and I can openly say that if UNMIL leaves today, I can rest a sure that I will still remain saved."

These were the words, ad verbum, of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf last Friday when she addressed the year-end party and honoring ceremony of personnel of EPS. She gave no instance in which her life was endangered and required the fleet-footedness of EPS.

But she told the service men and women that the years of professional and nationalistic service EPS provided has left no doubts in her mind that it is up to the task of sustaining the executive security of post-UNMIL Liberia.

"I must confess, that when I first took over as president, I was not very strong on security issues. But today you guys have demonstrated and work so hard and once I am with you guys, I feel saved. I can enter a dark room knowing very well that I will come out safe, because I know that you are watching my back. To you the family, I say thank you so much for your patience. At times, your husbands come home very late; yet you understand. I salute all of you and thank you for the job well done."

Friday's event also witnessed the presentation of awards to at least three employees of the service who performed exceptionally well during the fiscal period.

Among them included S/Agt. Ellious Blamo Sr., Personnel of the year and S/Agt. Matthew Johnson, most dedicated personnel of the year.

Speaking further, the president said she look forward to a more robust EPS in 2013, with a commitment of ensuring professionalism and service to country.

For his part, the Director of the EPS, Col. Othello Warrick, thanked President Sirleaf for the confidence reposed in the EPS and vowed to continue on a renew zest in 2013.

"Madam President, you can rest a sure that we will always protect you as per our mandate," he said. "We have professional men and women that you can rest a sure of.  Come 2013, we can assure you of our renew verger to service and our country."

Meanwhile, several top security officials, including National Security Advisor, Dr. Boima Fahnbulleh have also defended the strength and capacity of the EPS in protecting the life of the president and other top VIP's in the country.

"Let me say this in all sincerity, Madam President, that we have some of the most courageous and committed men and women you can find in any service around the world," the national security advisor said.

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