Liberia: President Boakai Reportedly Eyeing Four to Fill Security Vacuum At NSA

Monrovia — President Joseph Boakai is still reportedly undecided over who will fill the void at the National Security Agency. His predecessor, President George Manneh Weah surprised many when he assumed the office of the presidency in 2018, elevating James Henric Pearson, who was deputy Director for Operation to Fombah Sirleaf, to the position of Director.

Multiple sources close to the presidency say, at least four names are said to be in the mix, former Police Director Chris Massaquoi, former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and former NSA boss, Fombah Sirleaf.

There’s been some speculations that new government is being pressed to maintain Pearson as Director for at least another year.

Over the years, the NSA has performed many functions for past Liberian Presidents. Some pleasant and others not so pleasant. A political government intelligence institution, the NSA’s main task is to gather, analyze and disseminate national security information for decision/policy makers including the President of the Republic of Liberia.

The origins of the National Security Organization can be traced back to the 1950s, where there existed only rudimentary security services. In 1955, largely as a consequence of an alleged attempt of the life of the president, a series of securities bodies were reorganized or created. Between 1955 and 1966, the following came into existence: National Police Force (NPF) (first organized in 1924 and reorganized in the 1950s); National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); National Central Bureau (INTERPOL); Executive Action Bureau (EAB); National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS); Special Security Service (SSS); and Office of National Security.

The foregoing represents President William V.S. Tubman Security organizations.

Tubman’s successor, William R. Tolbert effected mergers and reorganization so that the National Security during the administration of President Tubman, similar function to that of the EAB was carried out by the National Intelligence Service (NISS), but on the highest national level.

Conversely, the NISS was dissolved following the death of President Tubman and the subsequent taking over of power by President Williams R. Tolbert, Jr., leaving the EAB at the time as the only clandestine agency.

On May 20, 1974, an act repealing sub-chapter D of Chapter 1, Part 1 and subchapter B of Chapter 22, Part II of the Executive Law in Relation to the EAB and the NBI, and creating the NSA was approved. The NSA was left as the only agency solely responsible for gathering national security intelligence, but having to conduct special investigations, whenever the need arises.

Later, on August 30, 1974, the Act creating the National Security Agency (NSA) was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the early 1970s, during the administration of President Tubman, similar function to that of the EAB was carried out by the National Intelligence Service (NISS), but on the highest national level. Conversely, the NISS was dissolved following the death of President Tubman and the subsequent taking over of power by President Williams R. Tolbert, Jr., leaving the EAB at the time as the only clandestine agency.

On May 20, 1974, an act repealing sub-chapter D of Chapter 1, Part 1 and sub-chapter B of Chapter 22, Part II of the Executive Law in Relation to the EAB and the NBI, and creating the NSA was approved.

The NSA was left as the only agency solely responsible for gathering national security intelligence, but having to conduct special investigations, whenever the need arises. Later, on August 30, 1974, the Act creating the National Security Agency (NSA) was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, Liberia.

For the past six years, Pearson, has provided the NSA with Intelligence assessment for decision-making. He is an insider who has served in a number of posts ranging from Case Officer to Director within different departments including Special Services and Operations. As an Intelligence Expert, he has vast knowledge in Counter- Terrorism and Security Intelligence, amongst others.

Massaquoi, a former director of the Liberia National Police has served in various security sectors. As National Security Advisor to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Massaquoi coordinated with all security entities including the Ministry of Justice on security related matters. As Inspector General of Police, Massaquoi was responsible for leading and directing an apparatus of over 5,000+ police officers across the nation. During Massaquoi’s leadership at Liberia’s Immigration Service, formerly known as the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), the bureau underwent critical structural reformation that was guided by the country’s 2008 National Security Strategy.

Massaquoi also served President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the first post-war secret service with a mandate to protect her as principal of the Office of the President and other Liberian government officials, VIPs, and foreign dignitaries.

As Claims Officer at the United Nations (UN) in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Massaquoi planned and implemented 100% physical verification of UN Mission assets; monitored application of UN rules and regulations regarding property, control-Assets, and Control System programs in the line with Headquarters, and New York directives.

As Chief, Special Investigation Unit United Nations Security Bosnia & Herzegovina, Massaquoi conducted and supervised incidents and accidents involving serious injuries, death and crime involving UN personnel and property, including allegations of misconduct, not limited to identifying high risk areas and investigation for UN fraud, theft, misapplications, and other illegal activities including accident investigation.

Samukai was Minister of National Defense from 2006-2017 under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

In the 1980s, he worked within the ministry and from 1986-87, he worked within the G-4 Branch of the AFL.

In 1991, Samukai was appointed as Deputy Minister of Defence for Operations. In 1993 and 94, he served as commander of the ‘Black Berets,’ a paramilitary police force in the Monrovia enclave of Amos Sawyer’s Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU). Samukai also served as Director of the Liberian National Police from 1994 to 1995 and Deputy Minister of State for Administration from 1995 to 1997. In 1998 he served on the AFL Restructuring Commission, where he was listed as a retired Colonel of the AFL in private business.

From 1999 to 2004-05, Samukai served as a security officer with the United Nations, initially with UNTAET in East Timor, and then from 2000 with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Department of Safety and Security in Tanzania. Responsible for refugee resettlement in Tanzania.

While it may be a longshot, former Director Fomba Sirleaf, is also believed to be on the radar for a return to the NSA.

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