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LNP seeks coalition to fight terrorism

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The Liberia National Police or LNP has stressed the need for state security agencies to form a coalition in fighting terrorism. The Inspector General of Police Col. Clarence C. Massaquoi, says as the security sector of Liberia prepares to take over from UNMIL, there is need for partnership among the various agencies.

Colonel Massaquoi made the assertion Tuesday, February 9, at a symposium marking the 59th celebration of Armed Forces Day held at the Monrovia City Hall. Official celebration for this year’s Armed Forces Day is slated for Thursday, February 11, at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia.

Tuesday’s symposium brought together officials of government line ministries and agencies, including heads of state security institutions and representatives of the African Union, among others.
The police chief said security institutions should coordinate and collaborate beyond boundaries to fight terrorism, adding, “We need to work together as a team through information sharing from private citizens, business people and even academia to promote best practices for the security sector of Liberia.”

He disclosed that the police have highlighted seven strategies to combat terrorism, and other emergencies apart from war, detailing that strategy one (1) identifies the issues: access vulnerability within the security sector and the Liberian public, and analyze every information regarding terrorism in the country.

Col. Massaquoi said strategy two (2) is prevention by detecting, deploying and mitigating trust in securing the country’s borders against terrorists, including illegal drugs and other illegal activities with the insurance of national and international policies, and law enforcement.

“Strategy (3) [involves] protecting or safeguarding our people and their freedoms, political infrastructure, properties, and the economy from the hands of terrorism, natural disaster and other emergencies to protect the public from the act of terrorism and other illegal activities reduce infrastructure vulnerability from acts of terrorism, to stop money laundering, currency movement, and the full protection of the President and the Vice President, visiting world leaders, and other protectives”, he added.

According to him, strategy (4) looks at safety and recovery to restore local governance, prevent terrorism and natural disaster, among others, while strategy (5) involves serving the public by facilitating and increasing understanding of naturalization law and its privileges and responsibilities, to provide efficient, and responsible immigration services that will represent the interest of the country, among others.

He also called for equal compensation for security apparatus in the country as UNMIL draws down. “You can’t have one group being paid more than the other, and the issue of deployment is important; usually we put a budget of 44 million to cover our operation across the country, something which is not enough to carry out police operation.”

Director Massaquoi said the police budget was reduced to 13 million, and out of this amount, 12 million is allotted for personnel services; 1 million for operation for the entire police service which he noted is peanut, stressing, “Lets us get serious; if you want a professional police force, you got to pay the price for it. The police is a very expensive enterprise; we are now into deployment and we speak about the decongestion in Monrovia. I agree to that, we have so many officers in Monrovia but how do we deploy them, are we going to take the traffic and baton officers and deploy in Nimba and other counties?”

Liberia faces serious financial challenges in providing sufficient budgetary support to security institutions amidst growing terror threats facing the world and West Africa as Boko Haram terrorizes Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria. Mali and Burkina Faso have also faced series of attacks from jihadists.

While countries are fighting to equip their security agencies in readiness to confront terrorism, over the last few years, funding allotted to the Armed Forces Liberia has been declining. In the 2010/2011 budget, the AFL was allotted US$15 million but in the succeeding years, the army budget has been going down by high percentage. In the next fiscal year the amount was again reduced to US$12, 533,017 and the army budget now stands at US$11 million.

Other major budget line items, including burial and death benefits of about US$9,400 have been slashed, leaving no funding for befitting burial to personnel of the army in the case of death. Other units such as the essential Engineering Unit are also at the verge of collapse due to the lack of budgetary allocation.

The AFL engineering battalion has been helping with construction of roads and other infrastructural projects which have been appreciated by the Government and the citizenry but in the current 2015/2016 national budget, there is no funding for the Engineering unit. The Chinese provided US$ 4 million engineering equipment to the army but the Government in the current budget has no allotment to maintain the equipment.

By Lewis S. Teh-Edited by Jonathan Browne

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