By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
While at home last week, I received a call in which the caller asked whether I have received information that the Director of Police, Col Chris Massaquoi was humiliated by some officers of the Executive Protective Service (SPS), while attempting to greet President Sirleaf who had gone to the Monrovia Central Prison for a visit. Upon hearing this, I stood in disbelief because I could not imagine that the Director of Police, as the first line of the nation’s security, would face such public ignominy. But as I continued to receive more calls on the matter, I knew that there was some degree of truth in that situation. To sum it up, when I arrived in town, our man assigned to cover the event, Morrison Sayon, corroborated what the many callers told me.
Similarly, while at a public gathering, someone said to me, “you people get a big story for Monday.” When I inquired on the kind of big story, the person, apparently, who also watched the ugly situation said, “I was on the scene when the Police Director was humiliated; I am a witness.” With that, I said to myself, “this was very serious.” But still as someone who once covered the presidency for years, I could not imagine how such an incident took place in the presence of the President, when, such a surrounding should experience quietude, and orderliness, and not what transpired on that day, which the Director of Police would obviously remain a memorable day for the Director of Police, a strong ally of Madam President.
During the incident, the Director was even heard saying, “Madam President, they stopping me from seeing you”. In another response played on Truth FM Radio, the Police Boss was heard saying again, ” oh!, you stopping me from seeing the President?”
What I experienced during those years of coverage was sometimes lateness, for which those who arrived late for occasions were denied access or as journalists, mostly photojournalists and presidential security officers in tussle for photo taking. But never, have I experienced the then Special Security Service (SSS) officers humiliating a top security officer like the Director of Police, who once served as head of that unit, before it was metamorphosized to the EPS in recent years.
As I was pondering over the incident, I received information that during my absence from the country about two weeks ago for a funeral in Ghana, a tape recording released by Madam Ellen Cockrum, who and others have been indicted for alleged corrupt acts, while serving as head of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA). According to those who listened to it, the Director reportedly “aided” in the escape of Madam Cockrum, who smelled the rat of being indicted for corruption after the FRONTPAGE Newspaper carried a dossier, backed by documentary evidence, on her alleged corrupt acts.
Even though I did not listen to the recording, comments heard on some radio stations by many callers seemingly believed that indeed the Director aided the lady to escape. Some of them called for his resignation. Whether these people really and intelligently listened to the recording or whether there were any omissions that people usually do in such a matter, or whether editing was done to absolve the recording of any wrong doing, these are issues that are yet to be established.
Indisputably, the general impression from this incident last week is that the action of the officers to belittle the director might have been based on an order. Who gave the order is the issue I am yet to establish. Because I do not have the facts, as I write this piece, I am legally and professionally estopped from calling name or guessing, as I could be held liable for falsehood and defamation. Therefore, I rest on this aspect of the situation.
Whatever the situation, I feel that the treatment meted out on the director in the presence of the President was bad for such a senior security officer. Even if there was an order to prevent this official of government from meeting the President or greeting the President, it should have been done in a more civilized and respectful manner and not in the manner in which it was done last weekend.
More importantly, the director is in that position today because he enjoys the confidence of the President, and so if this does not exist anymore, the President constitutionally has the carte blanche to decide the next course of action, but to see such an opprobrium to have befallen on one of her subjects in her presence, is what I am concerned about.
To make a long matter short, the humiliation of the Director of Police was not called for. The disgrace has taken place. The damage has been done; it has left an indelible imprint in the life of this officer, who has served in many top security positions in this country. It has now become a topical issue and may even form part of the Guinness Book of Record, as a “police director who was prevented from meeting or greeting his boss in public.”
Additionally, we should not be surprised should this form part of major quizzing competition locally and internationally. Another important aspect to note is that the weekend disgrace has the propensity to lower the integrity of the director among his peers and even his subordinates. I am not a psychologist, but I know that this incident has demoralized the director.
All in all, what remains now is for the Executive Mansion to give explanation, being fully aware that, “silence means consent.” I Rest My Case.