New Democrat (Monrovia)

30 January 2013

Liberia: Lawmakers Want Security, Clinic

Members of the National Legislature say they are not safe as they walk vulnerably without assigned security officers, according to Rep. Fofi Sahr Baimba Sr., House Co-Chair on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

"Every House member needs a professional security. We are elected by the people, so each and every one of us is the property of the state. We therefore need special protection, but that is not being provided for us," said Rep. Baimba of Lofa County District #2. He is also a member on the House's committee on Internal Affair.

A private security agency provides security for Capitol Building.

However, in an interview with this paper at Capitol Hill Tuesday, Rep. Baimba who raised the issue at the plenary,emphasized that as lawmakers, their jobs don't end at Capitol Building. He said they need to be given adequate security protection to enhance their safety and well-being.

"I am, therefore, asking the plenary to shift one security position to LNP or train one of those security agencies to become personal body guards and security service providers for the lawmakers.

"Anybody, anywhere in the world who is an elected official, you don't have to work in the Mansion; you don't have to be the president of this country. As long as you hold certain positions of trust especially where 73 men and women are representing 3.5 million people of this country, you need to be protected.

"The need for professional security for each member of the House is therefore unquestionable. This is the best practice all over the world," he noted.

Rep. Baimba also said that there was a need for legislators to have an insurance coverage for their vehicles, saying one of their colleagues recently lost his vehicle to criminals.

"Vehicles cost money, if you asked me to pay US$500 a month to purchase a vehicle that cost US$30,000, I will pay. If it is true for me, why can't it be true for the government?

"And you will agree with me also that you need to have life insurance, too. If somebody is elected to work in this House and they are not insured, they are at risk.

"Am telling you,best practice around the world, Congressional members around the world, House members around the world should have security, they should have insurance on vehicles and life insurance," he emphasized.

He also said as lawmakers, there is a need for a first aide clinic center to be erected for them on the grounds of the Capitol Building so that they would be able to know their health status before attending plenary.

"If I am protected and healthy, I will be more able to provide service for the people who sent me here; my constituents," he said.

But sources from the plenary say that majority of the lawmakers are in support of the proposal for a special body guard to be assigned to each of them.

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