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Editorial: Supporting the Reduction of Security Agencies

During and following efforts by the administration of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to develop the Poverty Reduction Strategy or PRS, the idea of addressing national security issues evolved.

Considering the fragile security situation we had by then (upon the inception of the Ellen Administration), it became a necessity during all of the consultations that Liberia undergo security sector reform. At the end of these national consultations, reforming the security apparatus became one of the four pillars of the PRS-in fact the first.

Such reforms, we believe, meant that the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL, Liberia National Police or LNP, among others must have undergone restructuring to reflect, not only geographical and ethnic balance, but also the highest degree of professionalism.

As if the efforts of the international community, including the United Nations system, European Union and United States government in this process were of no essence, we continue to observe the same-old  behavior of our national security institutions throughout Liberia to include border and check points, even though heads and a few senior officers continue to issue denials when reported.

It is in view of the foregoing, perhaps, that we support the position of the former Assistant Director of Police for CID, Steve Zargo on the lack of coordination among security agencies in the country, when he appeared as guest of a local radio talk show in Monrovia Tuesday morning.

We are of the fervent belief that the lack of coordination Mr. Zargo spoke about, may be attributed to the proliferation of security agencies, as well as the numerous duplications which characterize their duties and functions.

While we may not want to be too definite about reasons behind what’s happening within our security network regarding the some of the issues raised by the former CID Director, it is also important to assume that such problems may be a result of economic factors (the issue of generating cash through extortion for insatiable wants).

For example, at the various border and check points throughout the country are all of the security agencies to include the NSA, NBI, and the irony about their operations is that they and t he police, immigration, military intelligence and even the Drugs Enforcement Agency or DEA do the same jobs, not knowing who is who.

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Most discouraging is the confusions which ensue among assigned personnel and officers of these security agencies in the presence of travels/visitors, citizens and others, giving the impression that we still have a rag-tagged security network in Liberia.

It is also the same at the highest levels of these security agencies, again because of the previous reason backed by the issue of winning favor from the President due to personal contacts.

The lack of experience and adequate knowledge on the part of almost all of the heads of these institutions in their various operations may also be considered key attributing factors. Whether or not the security heads should continue to be there, is the constitutional prerogative of the President of Liberia on which we cannot further comment.

But what we believe and would like to suggest, in firm support of the position given by former Director Steve Zargo on Tuesday’s talk Show, is drastic reduction of the number of security agencies.

We strongly harbor the belief that it is far better to have a small number to operate efficiently and effectively in the interest and to the admiration of the entire government and people of Liberia devoid of duplications and undermining, than to continue the present trends of the security networking.

Our position is not intended to encourage he administration to “down size” or put other Liberians out of job, but to safe the image of our state security network which continues to be tainted after our international brothers and sisters had spent so much money to reform.

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