The UN Peacekeeping force in Liberia – UNMIL has placed full security responsibilities of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai and other VIPs in the hands of Liberian security agencies, headed by the elite Executive Protection Service or EPS.
President Sirleaf joyously welcomed the decision and expressed gratitude to the Nigerian contingent for the committed service it has provided here.The President had a photo session with the departing peacekeepers outside the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia on Saturday evening, 30 April.
“Here today we are in very great mood to have handed over what UNMIL has been doing to the nationals of Liberia …., like I said, the transition is an ongoing concern. This is one milestone, and we’ll keep moving until we get to the final destination. And that might come by June 30, 2016,” Maj. Gen. SalihuUba, UNMIL’s Nigerian Contingent Commander said.
The counter assault team of the Nigerian contingent of UNMIL which has until Saturday, 30 April been helping the EPS in President Sirleaf’s motorcade formally relinquished its role in the VIP service as it was about to return home, charging members of the EPS to demonstrate what it has achieved through teamwork with peacekeepers.
The Nigerians were certificated by EPS authorities over the weekend for their profound service to Liberia while working under the UN command. The UNMIL Nigerian force commander Maj. Gen. SalihuUba expressed happiness that capability has been transferred to the Liberian people, urging his men to be happy about it because that was the purpose for their mission to Liberia.
Gen. Uba noted that the UNMIL transition plan has been ongoing gradually, and the turning over of the executive protection of President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai to the Liberian people was another milestone.
“I think what this shows is very simple. It only shows that the professional competence of the EPS; the professional understanding of other Liberian security agencies are coming to bear on the people of Liberia,” he said.
He said it was important and historic in that there are more UN boots being pulled out, while more Liberian national security boots are being brought into the EPS for the President, Vice President and other officials.
EPS Director Mr. Frank O. Nyenkan said, he was overwhelmed that UNMIL was turning over security responsibility directly to his forces, a task that has been performed jointly by his institution and the peacekeeping force over the past years.
“I want to say thank you; you have done a tremendous job,” Director Nyenkan told the Nigerian contingent, saying their job was such a very remarkable one that no one would have done easily. He dispelled perception that “peacekeeping is not a soldier’s job,” arguing that only soldier can do it, as he reflected on the sacrifices made by the Nigerian soldiers in the UN and how they slept in the trenches just to bring peace to the country.
Director Nyenkan said now that the peacekeepers have done their part, it was left with Liberians to prove what has been handed over to them can be maintained. He urged Liberians to do away with those vices that plunged the country in decades of civil war which necessitated peacekeepers’ coming here, and prayed that “no more will Liberia see war.”
The EPS boss assured that his men and women in the Service are ready for the task, vowing “We shall never let you all down.
By Winston W. Parley-” Editing by Jonathan Browne