-Justice Minister Concedes
Liberia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General Frederick D. Cherue says what “we hear” in atayi shops and market places is that Liberians “are jittering” and have not yet reached the level to trust state security apparatus.
Cllr. Cherue said the burden was now on the national security apparatus to create public confidence after resuming security responsibility during an acquaintance meeting Thursday, 21 July with senior officers of the Liberia National Police or LNP including, Director Chris Massaquoi and deputies.
While commending the LNP for some successes amid the numerous challenges, Cllr. Cherue, however, urged the police here “to stay out of trouble” in executing their duties, as well as to keep away from committing crimes on grounds that police are sometimes accused in armed robbery complaints.
The Justice Minister noted that it takes courage, patriotism and loyalty to country to keep and maintain national security, while reminding the police of the June 30 security hand over event when UN peacekeepers said it was all over, handling complete security responsibilities to the Liberian security forces including, the army, police, immigration, Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as corrections, among others.
“I know what you go through; so, I want to thank you for your courage and resilience,” he said, indicating that if other officers could leave their countries to come and server here in the rain, it was also required of Liberian officers to serve their own country.
He repeatedly told officers that beginning now; the 2017 election process will be a challenging period, urging them to work and built confidence on grounds that Liberians were jittering. Minister Cherue appealed to the police to exercise restraints and use their arresting power rather than fuss with members of the public who may confront them, while enforcing the law.
He also described the work of the police as sacrificial, though officers would take insults and not assaults. In response to concerns for logistical and budgetary support raised by senior officers, Minister Cherue said though he could not promise that miracle would occur, he, however, assured that their concerns may be addressed.
He promised to work with all security heads, including Director Massaquoi and Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, indicating earlier that that as Justice Minister his responsibility was administrative; the challenge was the responsibility of the security people.
Earlier, Police Director Massaquoi committed the police to working with the Justice Minister in doing whatever it takes to make his administration successful. He reported to the Minister that earlier on Wednesday, the delayed salary payment of officers was resolved following a meeting with the Ecobank management, adding that he considered the situation with the officers as life and death “because a hungry man is an angry man.”
During separate remarks across the floor, senior officers raised issues such as the lack of money in police budget for intelligence, the over crowdedness of the Monrovia Central Prison, prompting the return of arrested criminal suspects in the streets after being turned over to the courts and sent to jail, the lack of uniforms, as well as logistics, among others.
But Minister Cherue said the prison issue has even drawn President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s attention and it will be handled professionally to minimize the problem just as other concerns raised by the police.
Minister Cherue toured the police headquarters, visiting one section and the other to include prisons, police clinic and the logistic section.
By Winston W. Parley