Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Liberia: A scary Place to Live

Citizens demand probe; called for protest in wake of mysterious disappearances and deaths

 

By James Kokulo Fasuekoi


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 16, 2016

                  



 
 
 
 
President Sirleaf's Liberia -

Citizens demand probe; called for protest in wake of mysterious disappearances and deaths - "Photos Source: Princess Gould"

Minneapolis, Minn- Judging from recent local newspaper reports as well as interviews conducted with people returning from Liberia, it’s evident that the country is no longer the way former interim leader Charles Gyude Bryant or indicted former Pres. Charles Taylor left it in terms of appreciable level of security for all as the state of general security has deteriorated for worse, perhaps than any other period in Liberia’s history.

In recent months and years, this country once ruled by American Black Slaves for over a century has proven to be one of the most dangerous places in West Africa for living, often with the mysterious disappearances and deaths of not just teenagers of impoverished families but also key personalities, some, lawyer, banker, politician, and now, a known government critic.

The gruesome remains of Harry Greaves
- Courtesy of the Informer

Harry Greaves as Latest Victim
Greaves, former managing director for the lucrative Petroleum Refining Company is the latest victim. His corpse, according to Daily Observer and FrontPage Africa, was discovered by a pair of joggers in the morning of January 31, 2016 on a beach near Ellen Sirleaf’s presidential palace about the same spot lawyer Michael Allison’s body was reportedly found last year.

It barely took 48 hours when the top politician’s bruised body was found after his personal driver reportedly dropped him off at the Kendeja Hotel where it is said he had a meeting.

Kendeja Again?
His tragic story begins at the RLJ’s Kendeja Hotel, located in Kenema along the Roberts International Airport road and ends in the backyards of the now presidential palace. But workers at the hotel have done very little to help provide lead that could help investigators identify causes of Greaves’ death. Initial information given by a female attendant interviewed by FrontPage added more confusion to the already complicated situation.

While she and her supervisor said to be Ghanaian, insist Greaves never booked a suite, she explained she saw Greaves swimming in the hotel pool for a long while and afterwards walked away from the pool toward the ocean. Kendeja Hotel, owned by US billionaire Robert Johnson has been embroiled in a lingering land controversy plus its illegal use of the title “Kendeja,” named after the village that hosted icons of the former national ballet dance troupe. Now, the Greaves’ issue may yet be another.

Horrifying Condition of the Body
Staff of Front Page Africa, who said investigators allowed them to view close-up photographs of Greaves’ body weeks ago, wrote that Greaves’ stomach, legs, lips, as well as his anus, were swollen upon discovery. Based on the look of his anus, the reporters concluded Greaves may have been sodomized. A “visible mark” found on the deceased head “possibly a knife” wound, they said, suggests “the possibility of an attack.”

GOL’s Conflicting Autopsy Accounts
However, autopsies carried out on Greaves’ remains by the government own leading hospital in the country JFK plus a GOL-hired team of American pathologists headed by one Thomas Bennett are all providing conflicting accounts as to what exactly led to the politician’s sudden death.

Thomas Bennett’s US Team: Recently, Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh released the following account from the Thomas Bennett team: “There is no gross evidence of ante mortem traumatic injuries. Findings include multiple postmortem blunt traumatic musculoskeletal injuries and skin change consistent with prolonged immersion in sea water and impact on ocean rocks. There is no gross evidence of any anorectal trauma or penetration. Skin slippage was all over his body from the prolonged immersion in the water, and there is no evidence to suggest that acid or other caustic substance was poured on this man.”

GOL’s owned JFK Hospital: As interesting as it seems the John F. Kennedy Hospital provided the following version: “The right side of his mouth was not intact. His lips were swollen, and tongue protruding. There were blisters-like lesions from his neck down to his chest. There was noticeable peeling of the skin. Both arms were very swollen, large, contracted and stiff. The abdomen was blotted, and the rectum was widely dilated and oozing blood. The lower extremities were swollen. There were no other noticeable lacerations or injuries.”

As a result of these conflicting autopsy reports Liberians are finding it harder to tell which one to consider credible; JFK’s or that of the corrupt government’s hired team? Meantime, the reported arrival to Liberia of a highly trained US pathologist hired by Greaves own family to conduct a third autopsy due to lack of trust in the findings of the GOL seems to be causing an operas in that authorities are said to be preventing the individual from carrying out an examination.

Second Death Less than a Month
Greaves is the second key figure to die under mysterious circumstances this year. In January 2016, Guaranty Trust Bank Manager, Dan Orogun, a Nigerian native, reportedly disappeared hours into a boat ride with his “best friend” businessman George Kailondo. In 2015, Lawyer Michael Allison, scheduled shortly to testify in a bribery case that involved a highly influential Senate official was found dead on the beach and stark naked as Greaves.

Similar deaths of key other figures
Yet in two other nefarious incidents, Politician Fayah Saah Gbollie is reported to have been attacked and murdered in daylight at his own Congo Town home in February 2013 and his killers dumped his body outside his house. Earlier, Keith Jubah, former head of the government Public Procurement and Concessions Commission with the task to tackle corruption in public contracts was gunned down at point blank in his home upcountry.

Jubah’s murder like most others was believed to be connected to his job activities. Unfortunately, in almost all of these homicide related cases, no solid arrests have been made or reported by the police less alone prosecution in these cases to deter similar future occurrences. The heartbreaking news relatives of the victims often got from government authorities is: “the suspected killers have escaped the country” and nothing else thereafter.

Greaves as loyal confidant
Not in any way diminishing the pains of relatives of other victims, Greaves’ tragedy has brought old memories taking into account how he and current President Sirleaf struggled many years to oust two regimes, Doe’s and later, Taylor’s in order to make way for an Ellen Johnson Sirleaf presidency. They both wanted both former dictators out of office and the costs didn’t seem to matter much to them; it was such desire that united them.

A loyal disciple and a close confidant to Ellen Sirleaf, Greaves name always came up whenever Sirleaf was mentioned, including subversive activities. He is even said to have accompanied Ellen Sirleaf to meet with late Brigadier General Thomas Quiwonkpa in Silver Springs, MD during which Sirleaf prevailed upon the former Liberian Army commanding general to stage a coup against Doe, a move that turned fatal November 1985, leaving Gen. Quiwonkpa dead.

Ellen Sirleaf rewards Greaves
When Sirleaf finally won elections 2005 and was sworn into office January 2006, she rewarded Greaves by appointing him her presidential advisor and later, managing director for the lucrative Liberia’s Petroleum Refinery Corporation. But Greaves was later dismissed by Pres. Sirleaf over allegations of bribery or alleged demands by Greaves for “kickback” in arranging government contracts. The dismissal crumbled their friendship turning a former Sirleaf “diehard” into bitter foe.

A Changed person
But what most including Greaves’ own adversaries will perhaps long remember and admire about him was his resolve to make good out of a bad situation. He became a changed person, preaching “repentance” and urged government officials including Pres. Sirleaf and her family members, hooked on misusing taxpayers’ monies to stop. The former New York Times financial comptroller also used his Daily Observer Newspaper column to advocate for cheap electricity for the poor.

Against all the odds in a country where the laws never works, that corruption and open bribery have become a way of life, Greaves managed anyhow and led a peaceful mass protest over the government’s attempt to monopolize electricity. Soon it became obvious that Greaves “unwanted” attention didn’t sit well with the first family.

‘A Political murder’
A month after his suspicious murder, Greaves’ fans and critics of the regime are trying to piece the puzzle together. Many are suspicious his death could have a political undertone. In the February 5, 2016 edition of The News for instance, the paper quoted a source as saying Greaves was in the process of traveling to the US next April in order to serve as “prosecution witness in a war crime trial.” It is said that Greaves had first traveled to New York October 2015 and reportedly met investigator of the “war crimes court.”

It is not clear who he was expected to testify against. However, former NPFL Defense spokesman Tom Woewiyu, a former associate of both Greaves and Sirleaf, is being detained by US immigration authorities for reportedly providing “false” statement in his immigration application. Some think his detention is also connected to his wartime activities with the NPFL. In the event of the establishment of a war crime court in Liberia and elsewhere Greaves, as some believe could have been an access in the prosecution of people guilty of economic and war crimes during and after the wars.

Current President Sirleaf has in the past confirmed that she initially contributed $10.00 USD to the NPFL war efforts, one of the rebel factions responsible for the massacre of large number of civilians during the country’s brutal wars.

Mafia-style execution
Already, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has issued a press statement and termed Greaves’ strange death and “other recent deaths” as “mafia-style execution.” The party said further: “The emergence of a mafia-style execution strategy against any one Liberian constitutes a threat to every well-meaning Liberian.”

Liberians in US set to protest
Recently, a group of Liberians agreed they would carry out a peaceful protest at the UN Assembly in New York, come this September 2016. Their decision comes after a series of mass teleconference meetings connected with Harry Greaves death and participants included human rights supporters worldwide and political and social based activist Liberian immigrant groups in the US.

A news release circulated here Friday (Feb. 26, 2016) under the signatures of Messrs. Seyon Nyanwleh and Jacob Massaquoi said the move is intended to rally the country’s international partners and investors to support a war crimes court in Liberia. “We believe this will ensure accountability and end the culture of impunity that has permeated the fabric of Liberian society,” the release said. Massaquoi is head of New York based Concerned Liberians Against Corruption & Impunity (CLACI), while Nyanwleh servers as secretary for the Minnesota based Movement of Liberians against Corruption (MOLAC).

US Citizens Victims of Strange Death
Liberians and African counterparts are not the only victims of this nightmare that stretches far back to the Bryant-Taylor eras. Other nationals including American citizens have in the past fallen prey to what some now see as organized crimes in the post-war country. John Auffrey, 44, an American who previously worked for the US Defense Department was ghastly murdered May 2004 in his Mamba Point Hotel suite while in the country to help revamp the national army.

Credible sources have linked his murder to a Taylor’s network still roaming in the country. One Emmanuel Mulbah, a former Taylor fighter, accused of killing Auffrey is reported by police to have escaped Liberia and no information on his whereabouts is known. Around the period John Auffrey was murdered, another American died under mysterious circumstances at the Cape Hotel just next door to the Mamba Point Hotel. Both hotels are located less than a mile away from the US Embassy in Liberia’s capital.

Children Raped and Murdered
Alongside the murder spree, large number of vulnerable kids, mainly from poor families have often suffered all sort of abuses such as rape, and sometimes murder, or both and the suspects or the accused often walked away free due to the poor justice system in the country.

The painful case of 12 year-old Musu Fofana (January 2015) in Brewerville, remains fresh on the minds of many. Hours after being brutally raped by an adult in her neighborhood, Musu died of bleeding in addition to punctured wounds apparently from a knife left in her neck by her attacker. In the same week, a man was arrested by police for allegedly sodomizing an 11 year-old girl and like Musu’s attacker, he was placed in jail but nothing has been heard of him.

According to local dailies, in just 11 months in 2014, the Ministry of Gender’s (Sexual and Gender based violent) statistics indicated there were 554 rape cases across Liberia. Of this total, Montserrado County, mainly Monrovia, carried the highest of 428. There is little doubt that this trend has changed for the better.

Kids as victims of ritualistic murder
Ritualistic murder has also become rampant under the current administration. The disappearances of kids at play in neighborhoods in Monrovia have become commonplace only to be found dead with key organs missing. The shocking discovery last December of the bodies of Reuben Logan, 7, and Alvin Moses, 4, in the backyard of one Ojuku Nmardi, a Nigerian, remains under probe. The bodies of the two were found in less than 24 hours after being reported missing.

Ritualistic murder is the kidnaping, killing of another human and extracting key body parts such as the heart and sexual organ for ritual purposes aimed to help the doer gain unmerited political power, wealth or special favor in the eyes of men. It’s a cruel practice steeped in superstitious belief and in spite changes that have come with time the culture remains prevalent in most of Africa.

In the late 1970s, Liberia came in to worldview as a result of ritualistic murder after President William R. Tolbert put to death by hanging several elite Liberia-Marylanders including Allen Yancy and James Anderson after they were found guilty by the court in the ritual murder of little Moses Tweh.

Liberia’s complex problems
Liberia’s problems seem more complex like a J-Saw puzzle. Besides the frequent disappearances and deaths of people armed robbery too has become a major problem for residents living in the capital and its environs which often result to murders, lifetime injuries and loss of treasures with no end in sight. What seems to compound it all is recent revelation that some police officers are aiding armed robbery in especially the capital which could be the reason why it has survived so long under the present government.

The arrest of the officers was recently confirmed by Police Chief Chris Massaquoi and it has at least brought a temporary relief to millions of Monrovia residents.

The poor and middle class of Liberia have been the ones hit hard by this madness. Unlike Ellen Sirleaf and her family as well as most government officials who lived behind high-walls under the protection of United Nations troops, many poor and middle class people in Liberia cannot afford the means of paying for private security guards or erecting high fences.

Government’s Crackdown on Critics
As of the time of writing the nation was deeply paralyzed by fear and uncertainty and the atmosphere was tense after the arbitrary arrest of youthful political activist Vandalark Patricks who exercised his free speech. Earlier, opposition politician Simeon Freeman was forced to go underground when the regime sent its riot police to arrest him for similarly exercising his rights to free speech. Freeman had accused the regime of creating a “death squad” further alleging that the government had plans to secretly murder ten opposition politicians.

Amid the turmoil, the administration of Sirleaf hasn’t done much to help change or calm the ugly situation except to go after those who speak up. Under the prevailing condition, the feeble looking Sirleaf has turned her anger to the watchdogs of society. She blames her own failures at reviving the economy and providing national security on the local mass media, thereby falsely accusing journalists of tarnishing the country’s image.

But the press there has only continued to honor its responsibility by mirroring what Liberia has come to be under Pres. Sirleaf.

Sirleaf isn’t alone in her cry that the local media is out to frighten off potential “investors, despite the daily realities of armed robberies, rapes and murders of teenagers and adults. New Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, himself a journalist, has joined the chorus, calling local aggressive journalists as the “assassins of the pen.” Whatever the meaning, Minister Nagbe unlike Ellen Sirleaf, doesn’t deny the fact there are “some bad things happening” in the country.

Ellen Sirleaf’s Hypocrisy
During the 1980s, Sirleaf undertook a vigorous smear campaign against then military dictator Samuel Doe with the aim to make Doe’s government unpopular particularly with the US. She accused his regime of corruption, misuse of Liberia’s natural resources, political power, and the practice of nepotism. She also accused him of doing very little to “preserve the people’s way of life” and further urged US Congress to hold back aids for Liberia.

At the helm of power for more than ten years now, ordinary Liberians argued Sirleaf has done more harm to the country than Taylor and Doe and many fear the worst is yet to come. Under her, corruption has reached its zenith with the “most powerful” joining the foreigners to plunder the country’s natural resources to the detriment of the population. And she has also topped the scale of nepotism in that she has awarded her four sons high-profiled positions despite severe criticism from opponents and some within the international community.

But as the overstressed United Nations troops prepare to finally withdraw from the war-torn country in a few months, panic stricken locals are worried as to who might be the next target of the elusive US-styled Zodiac killer in the capital.



Amos Frank
This is what becomes of a country when someone (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) who formented, financed, and presided over the massively gruesome killings of innocent children, babies, women, and other innocent civilians is awarded the presidency. This butcher of Monrovia MUST GO! IT IS TIME FOR THE PEOPLE´S POWER TO DRIVE THIS BUTCHER OF MONROVIA FROM POWER! GO ELLEN MUST GO! THIS WOMAN ONLY CAME TO STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY! GO SHE MUST GO!
Amos Frank at 01:49AM, 2016/03/17.
Arthur Tamba
Amos Frank, the person or group of people who suppose to drive President Sirleaf from Power are still in their mothers womb. They yet to be born. This means that people like you are not man enough to effect such change and so, you just need to shut up.

Fasuekoi, as for you, you have already admitted that from what you read and hear. So, your assertion is based on they say. You will continue to live on TPS while we progress here in Liberia. No Liberian will go your way to disrupt this peace we are enjoying here. You will not sit there in the USA, living on welfare to instigate violence. We are happy with what we have here and how we are living.

Your friends who came here and told you that the country s not safe are all failures who never saw education as vital but rather to live a hustler life in the USA. Liberia is getting better.
Arthur Tamba at 02:29AM, 2016/03/17.
Zamawa A Zamawa
Arthur Tamba, is that how "we Will progress here in Liberia", with those who criticize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ending up dead behind the Executive Mansion? Arthur what sort of progress is this when the MCSS Superintendent tells us of a death trap for students in school? Well if progress means the president's son steals state funds and breaks down NOCAL with impunity them this progress is dangerous!
Zamawa A Zamawa at 07:33AM, 2016/03/17.
Arthur Tamba
Zamawa, I don't know of any Liberian that has criticized President Sirleaf and was found dead. Name that person here. Your statement is based on sentiment and has no solid foundation. The reason for this is EXTREME IGNORANCE ON YOUR PART. You will live and die with it while we move on. ON ON WE GO!!!!!
Arthur Tamba at 07:54AM, 2016/03/17.
SadehGots-Sadeh
The Harry Greaves' death is a recent example. Greaves in recent times has been a Sirleaf's critic before he disappeared and was later found dead on the beach behind President Sirleaf's office. Before then, Greaves had revealed in Monrovia in a press release that in March,2015, Nocal ( the company controlled by President Sirleaf's favorite son)had in its bank account a "staggering U.S. 80 million dollars). But by June,three months thereafter, that amount had reduced to a paltry U.S. $500,000.00 It was not too long after this revelation that Greaves disappeared. His death, according to the Justice Minister of the Sirleaf's government, "remains a mystery. The government needs to therefore clear this "mystery" and bring his killers to justice.
SadehGots-Sadeh at 11:30AM, 2016/03/17.
Arthur Tamba
This is sad to say the least. Are you telling the Liberians that Harry Greaves was the one having Robert Sirleaf's Bank account? Where was Harry Greaves when Robert was NOCAL'S Board Chairman? Was his "allegation" greater than that of Christopher Nyeor? You guys don't want to admit that Harry Greaves has his own Domestic problem and want to Blame Government! You can live with your unfounded allegations. Just let all of your family members to move to another country and leave this unsafe Liberia.
Arthur Tamba at 09:55AM, 2016/03/18.
Zamawa A Zamawa
The FBI nade the Discovery of Robett Dirleaff' 2.5 billlion US dollars asset dtollen during his tenure at ZNOCAL. The LPRC boss naturally knew how and more. Raccon knows on which bark ir stic it cleans its backside, and so Neyor had to be left alone! The government's criminal conduct reflected its culpability!
Zamawa A Zamawa at 08:26PM, 2016/03/19.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
James Kokulo Fasuekoi is a truly excellent journalist! This article is MASTER-CLASS REPORT! I mean the report details everything which are needed considering THE NATURE OF THE STORY AND ITS CONTEXT! Congratulations Jimmy!

As a matter of fact, this story on the tragedy of Harry Augustus Greaves reminds one of a similar story of the tragedy of Mikhail Lesin - one time Propaganda Chief of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. TIME MAGAZINE MARCH 28, 2016!

Lesin as Greaves died mysteriously last November at a hotel. Like Greaves " Russian authorities claimed Lesin died of a heart attack. But the Chief Medical Examiner of DC said on March 10 that the cause of death was actually blunt trauma to the head (TIME MAGAZINE MARCH 28, 2016)."

This disagreement between government or national authorities ane medical authorities as regards cause of death is exactly what transpired here in Liberia viz the mysterious death of Harry Greaves the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's former confidante and chief propagandist!
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 02:44AM, 2016/03/24.
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