16 September 2013

Liberia: Disrobe the Police Director

Photo: The New Dawn
Police patrol the streets.

The Liberian Senate has requested President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to disrobe Police Director, Chris Massaquoi and turn him over to the Ministry of Justice for investigation.

The decision by the Senators followed the failure of Director Massaquoi to appear before them last Thursday to answer questions regarding statement at a press conference in which he threatened to arrest anyone including lawmakers if the vehicle and traffic law is violated.

The Senate also summoned Director Massaquoi to provide further information concerning the arrest of three senators including Theodore Momo of Gbarpolu, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa and Armah Jallah of Gbarpolu counties.

But the Police Chief failed to adhere to the Senators' instruction to appear before that body giving reasons that he was in Gbarnga, Bong County attending an urgent security meeting. The letter of excuse written by Director Massaquoi was rejected by the lawmakers.

As pressure mounted from the Capitol for his appearance, Director Massaquoi arrived with the deployment of more than a dozen armed police officers chanting anti-senate slogans and raining insults.

The Police Boss finally appeared on Friday, September 13, 2013 in response to the summons and subsequently provided information to the lawmakers.

Massaquoi told the Senators that he had no knowledge about the presence of armed police officers at the Capitol Building.

He claimed that an investigation has been launched to establish who ordered the deployment of police officers at the Legislature.

However, the Senate told reporters following the Police Director's explanation that he (Massaquoi) did not provide valid reasons for his failure to appear despite a two hour ultimatum.

The angry senators said the statement from the Police Director was untrue adding that Massaqquoi "lied under oath."

Senator H. Dan Morias, who presided over the emergency session Friday, said Director Massaquoi arrived on the grounds of the Capitol Building with heavy convoy carrying more than 200 armed police officers.

Senator Morias on behalf of the Senate termed the action of the Police Director as a mutiny and as such, they want President Johnson-Sirleaf to disrobe him.

The Senators expressed disappointment over the failure of the Police Director to exercise command and control of his men.

At the same time, Senator Prince Y. Johnson has been suspended for time indefinite by the Senate. Senator Johnson's suspension came as a result of the reported leakage of intelligence information to Police Director Massaquoi regarding his (Massaquoi's) appearance.

It was reportedly established by the Senate that Senator Johnson told Director Massaquoi not to appear before the plenary of the Senate to answer questions.

But the Nimba County Senator denied his involvement into the police director's scenario and said he only told Vice President Joseph Boakai for the matter to be addressed in committee room.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the Chief of Patrol at the Liberia National Police, Prince Davies has been suspended for time indefinite in connection with the deployment of armed police officers at the Capitol.

Police authorities are holding Officer Davies liable for the huge police presence at the seat of the Legislature last Thursday.

Police Spokesman Sam Collins said Officer Davies will remain suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

Sources told this paper late last night that Officer Davies is being used as a sacrificial Lamb so that Director Massaquoi would be pardoned by the Senators.

Under the Standard Operation Procedure (SOD) of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and Police Support Unit (PSU), the Director of Police and his Deputy for Operations are the individuals authorized to move the armed units of the Police and not the Chief of Patrol who is being held liable.

In some cases, the Assistant Director of Police for Operations can authorize the movement and deployment of armed police officers when there is an incident but it is done in the absence of the Deputy Director of Police for Operations.

It has not been independently verified as to who ordered the deployment of armed police officers at the Capitol Building. But sources hinted that the men were deployed to instill fear and prevent the detention of Director Massaquoi is such decision was taken by the senators.

Although Spokesman Collins disclosed that investigation has begun to establish who ordered the movement of the officers, action has already been taken against the Chief of Patrol in the absence of findings from the probe.

It is not known whether President Sirleaf will disrobe Director Massaquoi as recommended by the Senate.

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