By Jones Nhinson Williams
The gruesome remains of Harry Greaves
There are some things that one can sugar-coat and there are other things that just cannot be sugar-coated at all. When a government that supposed to protect its citizens is knowingly covering up cold bloodied murders of government’s critics, whistle-blowers and innocent citizens, and in particular, when the killings are, by every and all measures, politically and economically motivated, driven and executed, we must not sugar coat anything. The former managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), Mr. Harry Greaves was executed and sodomized by the invisible workings and failure of the Liberian government under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, plain and simple. The Liberian government must take full responsibility for these unending and unsolved political and economically-inspired assassinations in the country.
What is at stake right now is the future, national unity and security of Liberia. These necessities are bigger than the personal ambitions and insatiable gratifications of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai, and House Speaker Alex Tyler. After eleven years in state power, these people have proven that they are unable to govern, and it shows in the degree of widespread corruption, poverty, disunity, nepotism, greed and organized lawlessness in the country. Moreover, it clearly shows in the dishonesty, incompetence, stubbornness and misinformation we, as Liberians and the world at large, continue to receive from this government. The president is stubborn and insensitive; the vice president always never accepts blame for what happens in the government perhaps because he is frequently sidelined by the president and her inner circle, and the speaker is recklessly clueless and audaciously out of touch. Personally, I have great respect for the vice president, but I just cannot believe that he cannot stand up for what is right and fair for Liberia and the Liberian people. This is a matter of principle and virtues, not job and position. If the president is continually out of touch and always feels that ‘My way or no way’ is the solution to governing a nation of 4.2 million people, then resign Mr. Vice President!
As usual, our president was abroad receiving personal praises, as part of an uncontrollable hobby to collect accolades, this time at the African Union’s recently held conference in Addis Ababa, when the agents of death carried out what appears to be a well-calculated assassination of one of her administration’s sharpest critic with a wealth of inside information about Liberia’s officials and the government’s dealings, both private and public. The body of the victim is not even buried and we are getting conflicting and misinformation from the administration. The Justice Minister says one thing, the President says another thing. Even God finds it hard to know who is telling the truth between them, what more about the Liberian people. We have heard this same more song before. We can’t be fooled twice. Not today, not tomorrow and not anymore. It’s time to come clean!
Enough is enough. It is time for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai and House Speaker Alex Tyler to make a serious choice: They either resign or be asked to do so by the Liberian people through peaceful biding demands. The Liberian people are the government, and they must be able to decide who leads their nation honorably for the common good of all, not just for the select few.
Every Liberian must stand up and hold the Sirleaf’s government fully responsible and here is why: Day before yesterday it was economist/banker Theophilus Bettie, former deputy governor of the Central of Bank of Liberia who was poisoned and died mysteriously. After Bettie’s death, the president’s signature was purportedly faked and signed at the central bank and millions of dollars went missing and unaccounted for, even though it is believed that the funds had been deposited in foreign banks. Action taken by the government, a deputy governor of the bank and friend of the president was asked to resign. Today, that same friend of the president, Ms. Etta Davies is now the Liberian ambassador accredited to the federal Republic of Germany. That means Ms. Davies, now Ambassador Davies, was not really sacked, it appears she was probably told to just follow the funds and keep an eye on it near some possible European banks.
Yesterday, it was attorney Michael Allison, a whistle-blower who assisted the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in a corruption case at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) that involved several inner circles of the president, some lawmakers and House Speaker Alex Tyler, a tribesman of the president who became speaker as a member of the President’s ruling Unity Party. Attorney Allison was murdered mysteriously dumped on the beach during the heat of the NOCAL’s controversy. Action taken: The government gave conflicting information and even went so far defaming the dead lawyer as a non-Liberian citizen, and as someone who purported to be a Liberian, according to the country’s justice minister. Notwithstanding, that NOCAL’s corruption case is inactive and even forgotten, but the speaker, one of the accused persons in the case, was able to build and open a multimillion dollars real estate for private commercial entertainment. Today, it is Harry Greaves, a fierce critic of the administration’s failure to account for US$80 million dollars in the NOCAL’s bank account, especially during the reign of the president’s son, Robert Sirleaf as chairman of the entity, subsequently followed by other loyalists and friends of the President as chairpersons.
Here is why every Liberian must take these murders and organized lawlessness in Liberia seriously: If we remain mute and don’t’ demand clear explanation, culpability, and tough actions, what happened to Allison and Greaves could happen tomorrow and again to other patriotic Liberians who speak out against the ills in the country. It could be journalist Rodney Sieh, or advocates like Tiawon Gongloe, Samuel Kofi Woods, Simeon Freeman, Chris Neyor, Leymah Gbowee, Syrenius Cephus, Charles Brumskine or anyone, both in and out of government, who disagrees with and wants to expose the dealings and wielding associated with the administration’s unending abuse of power, corruption, nepotism and cover-ups. Obviously, it could be me as well, but that will be a different narrative because the Grebo devil or “Quee” will come to town and we will see who born dog when they dare play with their son! The president and her administration clearly know this for a fact, and the Grebo people of River Gee and Maryland counties in Liberia wouldn’t mind reminding them if they happen to forget. Harry Greaves may not have a country devil, but he has us may want us to ensure that this evil, shameless greed and heartless insensitivity stop now!
Secondly, no Liberian wants war or conflict in our country. Our people are tired with self-destruction and grandiose manipulations by a few. The people that planned and brought war to our country in 1989 are the same ones who are enjoying the spoils of a recovering Liberia. We should not allow them to send our country back to self-destruction just because they do not want to be held accountable for the overnight wealth they have all acquired. Every strategy under this administration, from inciting failed religious tension between Liberian Christians and Muslims by trying to make Liberian a Christian nation and blackmailing opposition and civil society advocates to enabling mysterious political and economically-inspired assassinations just to silence the voices of voiceless must not be tolerated. Lest we find our country back to square one.
Thirdly, the late Harry Greaves was no ordinary Liberian. He comes from a powerful Liberian family, having been the son of Liberia’s ex-minister of defense during the reign of the Americo-Liberian rule, especially under the late President William R. Tolbert, Jr. In addition, I knew Harry Greaves very well. From 2003-2005, Harry Greaves was the line of communication between former Liberian interim leader Charles Gyude Bryant and myself when I advised Bryant on peace-building, disarmament, reconciliation and inclusive governance. Besides, Greaves, if not the closest, was one of the closest friends and confidantes of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and their friendship dates back to more than three decades. When Ms. Sirleaf, then an opposition politician, invited me to her residence and offices in Abidjan, the Republic of the Ivory Coast in 2002, it was Harry Greaves she instructed to lead her team that met and discussed with me regarding the way forward for Liberia post Charles Taylor. In 2005, it was Greaves who also resigned from the interim government of interim leader Bryant to launch then Ms. Sirleaf’s bid for the Liberian presidency. This is how closed they were. This is why his brutal killing, in this manner and under the watchful eyes of this government, is scaring, perplexing and disturbing, at best.
As the Grebo people would say: When a Crocodile starts to eat its own eggs what do you think it will do to the eggs of a chicken? Harry Greaves is, by de facto analogy, an egg of the Sirleaf’s administration and a personal longtime friend turned critic of the president and her administration. With such prominence and affluence, he is extra judicially executed by thugs harbored and facilitated by the government. If this can happen to this man, who else in Liberia is safe from the whims and caprices of the greed and evil of people who have no good intentions for our country other than their personal gains? This is precisely why this is no laughing matter. Liberia is on a time bomb, a bomb that the Liberian administration is fully a part of, that the United Nations that supported and aided this situation to be such a mess must be responsible for, and a bomb that all the well-connected international friends, who dressed up this kind of leadership to be absolutely irresponsible and unaccountable to the Liberian people, must take full responsibility for.
The point is, President Sirleaf and her administration would have been fully transparent, responsible and accountable to Liberia and the Liberian people if the United Nations was fair and open in its dealings in Liberia. More than ten years of peacekeeping, that sets no milestones to measure serious progress in honest governance, genuine peace building and security sector reforms, but instead focused on job security for a lot of U.N.’s international staff has emboldened the Sirleaf’s administration to become a sophisticated web of corruption and a silent and insolvable crimes’ facilitator. This is why most serious-minded people will agree that if the Taylor’s regime was a gangster cartel it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the Sirleaf’s administration is a mafia prototype, considering what Liberia is today.
On January 4, 2016, we heard from the president during her 11th annual address to the nation that: “The country is safe and secured”. Less than a month, one of the most gruesome political and economically-inspired extra judicial killings took place victimizing a known critic of the administration who wanted full accountability for the following: The NOCAL’s US$80 million dollars’ bank account’s depletion; the US$750 million dollars the President said the country has credited from foreign entities, the creditors’ sources and credit processes; and in addition, the victim was pushing for the privatization of the country’s energy sector from government’s control to prevent widespread chronic corruption and theft of public resources by officials, especially since relatives, friends, loyalists, praise-singers and deals makers are part owners of anything that quacks, talks, walks and sounds like a business in Liberia. And the leadership never says sorry one day!
The senseless murder and conflicting information from the Liberian administration and the potential cover up currently unfolding at the executive level must send shock waves in the spin of our nation. Once again, my elderly mother in River Gee County in south eastern Liberia is not educated neither is she a criminal justice expert. But she used to tell when I and my siblings were lying, covering up, or were part of something that went wrong once our stories did not add up. Clearly, the stories coming out of Liberia, both in Allison’s and Greaves’ murders don’t add up. Again, in Liberia a nation where everyone is a ‘lawyer’, convenience over truth is the mantra and so one will hear that we are running to judgment without the ‘facts’ or the ‘burden of proof.’ This is the ugly behavior that perpetuates evil. It must be stop if we seriously want a better country. Killing of this nature requires that the truth be told and we are saying it loud and clear: Leadership’s failure and the recklessness of the Liberian government are responsible for Greaves’ murder, simple.
Liberia is not the only African nation that went through civil wars. Rwanda had one, our neighbor Sierra Leone had its share so are many other countries. What is unfolding in Liberia and under the Sirleaf’s administration is far from what is happening in many of these once war-ravaged nations. While it is true that some of these countries need to do more, they are far better than what we have under the current Liberian government. The sad part is, everyone erroneously assumes that there is a government in Liberia, and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf pretends that she is in charge. In reality, Liberia is a mess and it is time that the Liberian government takes full responsibility for everything: from widespread corruption, the abuse of women and the starvation of children to the torture of innocent citizens, and of course the well-calculated political and economically-motivated assassinations of critics and whistle-blowers. Even good investors who refused to engage in corrupt are intimidated and harassed as was the case of a Korean businessman who US$300,000 was armed robbed from him by senior members of the security sector with family ties to the president. Nobody would expect a chief of the CIA/FBI equivalent accused of armed robbery. In Liberia, this is the case. The Sirleaf’s administration police force is full of officers who are armed robbers at night, breaking innocent civilians’ homes, stealing their money and then jailing them on trumped up charges. The presidential security is replete with gangsters who brutalized women in the streets and raped young girls against their will. Action taken: Presidential silence and in some instances new assignment is given to perpetrators as long as the ‘royal’ family is protected. This was the case when the president’s deputy chief of security protection bloodied a young Liberian woman. The media is replete with these tales, not a makeup. Just Google. And this supposed to be a government headed by a woman? Not so! Besides, I don’t find pleasure in criticizing the Sirleaf’s government because I want her to succeed so that my two daughters will know that women in Africa can do anything. Unfortunately, the Sirleaf’s terrible reign in Liberia has dampened the perception of women’s leadership on the continent in ways that gives my two intelligent daughters no historical reference point. Really Ma’am? If Harry Greaves’ gruesome murder due to your administration’s failure does not make you to turn Liberia to God, then we as a nation are headed to hell. My role is inspire you to realize that material possession comes secondary to what God expects from us and our lives. This is too much and we are tired, frustrated because you failed us. Worse of all, you continue to live in denial this is why the trajectory stays the same.
Clearly, President Sirleaf, Vice President Boakai and House Speaker Tyler cannot rise to the challenge of leadership in our country. Therefore, for the good of our country, they should resign. This is the only option and it is their duty to decide. I hope that they'll do the right thing, remove themselves from power and allow a more open and transparent process to fill those positions.