Editorial: Maintaining Decency and Prestige of EPS
On Tuesday, September 25, 2012, the New Dawn-Liberia reported an a brutal incident involving an agent of the presidential elite force, Executive Protective Service or EPS previously known as Special Security or SSS and a private security guard of the Regional Security Network in Vai Town, Bushrod Island in Monrovia.
The encounter between Agent Godfrey Mills of the EPS and Private Betu Sumo of the Regional Security network resulted to the brutal and merciless flogging of the latter by the former on suspicion of ‘stealing’ the radio tape from his vehicle. Agent Mills had attempted ‘finishing up’ his victim into the Mesurado River from the King Zulo Duma Bridge when troops of the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police arrived and arrested him on ‘attempted murder’.
Even though the Liberia National Police confirmed the September 25 Vai Town incident and promised to provide details later, the Executive Protective Service, on Wednesday, September 26, released a press statement describing the New Dawn-Liberia as misleading, suggesting that Officer Sumo of the Regional Security Network was ‘never beaten to near death’ by Agent Mills, while at the same time claiming that last Saturday’s incident was only a verbal argument between both men before the intervention of the ERU.
Probably embarrassed by its agent’s brutal action and the paper’s publication, the presidential elite force then embarked on a ‘cover-up- campaign in an apparent attempt to “save face” and portray the New Dawn-Liberia negatively in the eyes of its many readers. As part of the cover-up campaign which also took Sumo and a few senior officers of the Service to a number of radio stations, including Truth FM, Sky FM, and Fabric Radio, the authorities at the regional Security Network, had already been persuaded by the EPS to threaten Sumo with dismissal if he did not comply with what they wanted done (complete denial of his brutal flogging by Agent Mills).
Apparently as a result of the foregoing, Private Sumo public denied ever being beaten by the EPS Personnel, demanding retraction of the story in order to maintain his job. As they visited the New Dawn-Liberia on the same Tuesday of the publication with an appeal for discontinuation, but the requisite attention could not be given by this paper owing to negative campaign the EPS had already launched against it in the name of providing clarification.
While the Executive Security Service may have though that the path on which it was thriving was the right way out, we think its objective, target and timing were miscalculated and directed being very cognizant of the fact that Agent Godfrey Mills was very hostile against the private security guard. Furthermore, knowing very well that the EPS (SSS) is a presidential elite force whose operations/activities-internally or externally are characterized by the highest degree of decency, including patience, respect and toluene, Agent Mills should have disallowed his uncontrollable temperament to mislead him into mortgaging the prestigious image of the service.
He may have just been the first to be publicly exposed among other ‘rotten apples’, probably, because Jehovah must have had enough of their bad deeds to put the EPS back on track. Other than choosing the ‘PR’ route they did under the guise of covering-up, authorities of the EPS should have reprimanded Mills as a lesson for others with similar attitudes in the service to learn. Such action would have been a reflection of the result of the security sector reform process. For the authorities of the presidential elite force to have even engaging in such public relations gimmicks when the service should not, was a complete misrepresentation of the objectives and ideals for which it was established.
And for desecrating the image of the Executive Protective Service in such manner and form since the September 25, 2012 publication of the New Dawn-Liberia on the brutal Vai Town incident last Saturday, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf must take the necessary actions to avoid repetition, while Agent Godfrey Mills be investigated. This will help to instill and maintain the decency that has always characterized the activities of the EPS (SSS).