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GeneralLiberia news

Govt’ defends retirement of 200 EPS agents

The Unity Party-led government alleges that its predecessor hastily recruited the agents into the EPS without proper recruitment procedures.

By Kruah Thompson 

Monrovia, April 24, 2024: Liberia’s Information Minister Jerolinmek Matthew Piah has defended as ‘necessary’ the retirement of some elite presidential guard Executive Protection Service (EPS) agents.

Piah alleged that the former Weah-led regime hastily brought agents into the EPS without proper recruitment procedures that fall in line with the code and ethics of the EPS.

Minister Piah told a press conference on Wednesday, 23 April 2024, that EPS Director Sam Gaye made the right decision in dismissing over 200 EPS Agents.

Reports suggest that the agents were removed from their positions due to allegations of their perceived loyalty to former President George Manneh Weah.

With the recent controversy surrounding their retirement, Minister Piah suggested that it was necessary to reduce the EPS overcrowding with agents hastily brought into the entity by the Weah regime without proper recruitment procedures.

Under President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s administration, Mr. Sam Gaye’s new EPS Director dismissed 200 EPS Agents. 

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Since their dismissal, the affected agents have made efforts to involve legislators, leading to clashes between the police and the former EPS agents over the weekend.

On 22 April 2024, the affected agents petitioned lawmakers to intervene by summoning Director Gaye to explain to the 55th Legislature why they were unlawfully dismissed.

While the house has yet to respond to agents’ call, Minister Piah, in a press conference held on Tuesday, stated that the Boakai government sought to investigate the overcrowding of the EPS from 2017 to the present.

Through the investigation, Piah noted that over 200 agents violated the agency’s employment law.

According to him, the law states that to join the EPS, you must be a Liberian citizen, aged between 18 to 35, and have a high school diploma or higher education.

Additionally, he explained that those who do not meet these requirements must possess technical and specialized skills. But Piah revealed that the retired EPS Agents lacked these requirements.

“So when the Boakai administration came into office and considering the significant growth of the EPS with over 800 employees, we had to assess whether all enrolments and enlistments were consistent with these requirements,” he explained.

“This led to a thorough review to ensure all enrolments and enlistments adhered to the specified criteria,” he continued.

 It was discovered that several officers did not meet the established requirements, with some even presenting falsified certificates.

Many of the retired agents’ certificates were found to be fake, according to the Information Minister.

As a government spokesperson, he emphasized his responsibility to stay informed about matters concerning the government. 

Though he acknowledged hearing some EPS officers claiming their dismissal was illegal, Piah stressed that only a court of law can determine the validity of their concerns. 

 He encouraged affected officers to pursue lawful avenues to address grievances rather than resorting to threats or resistance.

He clarified that EPS officers are only armed during operational assignments and emphasized the temporary nature of their firearms possession. 

He warned that any threats made while in possession of these weapons are taken seriously, as demonstrated by the subsequent arrests and detention of those involved.

He urged affected officers to seek recourse through legal channels and cautioned against further threats or intimidation tactics. 

He emphasized the importance of upholding professionalism and adherence to the law within the EPS, stating, “How can someone who speaks of such actions be fit to serve in proximity to the President?”

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