Charles Taylor's Threat of
"Ferocity" Over Veep Dogolea's Death
By Tom Kamara
It seems the puzzle over Liberia's Vice President Enoch Dogolea's sudden and mysterious death is finally unraveling. President Taylor, angry over critical newspaper coverage over the mysterious nature of the death, is threatening to be "ferocious" against reports in the New Democrat newspaper of circumstances around his deputy's death. "I have seen an attempt on the part of some political animals in the country to create division among the people of Liberia and we will not tolerate such", a local newspaper quoted the President as saying. The paper said:
"The Liberian leader made the remarks Thursday when he received in audience members of the Executive Committee of the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Executive Mansion. The committee had gone to the Mansion to console the First Partisan for the death of Vice President Enoch Dogolea. Making direct reference to a story published in the New Democrat Newspaper, President Taylor warned that the publication of such a story should be the end of such negative campaign only intended to sow the seeds of discord among the peaceful people of Liberia. He assured that everything would be done to prove to the Liberian people that the Vice President died of natural causes. Speaking further, President Taylor said the autopsy report will be made public and that the government was exerting every effort to obtain the medical records of the late Vice President from medical institutions he visited in France, Taiwan and other countries. He thanked the NPP Executive Committee for their concern and prayed that God will continue to guide this nation".
Threats against the media, and political opponents thinking different, form part of President Taylor's leadership code. "I am the most mischievous in this country", he warned against media reports in 1997 that he was planning to kick ECOMOG out. In a jam packed Baptist Church, Taylor told worshippers how "bad I am." He proceeded to explain, using his uncle in the church as a witness, how he flogged his father to end his mother's torment of beatings by her husband. So the "I will be ferocious" threat is not new. It's expected against probing journalism.
And as expected in such cases of attempts at cover-ups in the now frequent sudden deaths of disciples, there is an avalanche of sudden medical reports to back the government's claims that Dogolea died at the hands of God. But even before the autopsy report, (which not surprisingly declares the cause of death as "natural") could be made public, Taylor's Minister of Health decreed that the cause of death was "natural." If so, why labor with an autopsy when the results were already known before hand? Furthermore, why would Taylor, based on his record of criminality, order an autopsy without being convinced that the result would meet his desire? The whys in this mysterious case, which has led to threats against the media, are just too many.
But the prime questions which the President and his entourage
of believing disciples ought to ask themselves, are:
1.Why would fingers be pointing at them for the death of their Vice President?
2. Why would there be a resounding conclusion that "He killed him"?
3. And why would Taylor be finding it impossible to convince people that "I didn't do it"?
In criminal investigations, there is such a thing as a "record". An individual with a record of crimes for which he/she is suspected may find it difficult convincing others that he/she didn't do it. Thus, criminal investigators rely on the "record" to tie suspects to a crime. Taylor, as we have seen, has a record replete with commission of the crime he is widely believed to have committed. He is not a "first offender, " as we shall see later. The only difference is that he is President, and in Liberia, that means being above the law. In today's Liberia, he is the "LAW."
According to family sources, Dogolea told his wife during his last minute alive that he had been poisoned. (But suddenly, in a stampede to prove the President innocent, the lady, now with dozens of children to care for, is reported to have told journalists in Abidjan that her husband was called by God after a previously unheard of "critical "illness. Knowing the horrifying fate that befell Jeanette Dokie, sexually assaulted, executed, mutilated, and burned along with her husband, does Regina Dogolea have a choice?) Aware of this, Government activists have been trying to link Dogolea's widow to her husband's death because, they claimed, she did not take good care of her husband whose corpse turned yellow a few hours after death, an indication of poison, sources say. The strategy of divide and rule has also been evident in this evidence gathering process. First, one group of Nimba University students announced that they suspected foul play in their kinsman's death. Suddenly, another group of Nimba University students emerged to challenge the authority of the first group, accusing them of embarrassing the government and country. In the end, another Nimba person is expected to take Dogolea's position, and certainly, inherit the manner of his death with a better cover-up.
But we must rely on Taylor's past, his "record" according to his comrades, in reaching conclusion on such matters.
Tom Woewiyu, Taylor's Defense Spokesman during their war years, explained to this writer one typical encounter with what he believes was a Taylor-ordered execution. During an interview in 1996, Woewiyu gave details of his escape from murder. He said at one point during the war, when he was returning from touring NPFL-held areas, he arrived at a checkpoint along the Gbarnga-Kakata road and noticed an unusual mood amongst the fighters manning the checkpoint. He said suddenly, he noticed that the fighters were in a shooting mood, and that the guns were aimed at his convoy. He was amazed because he was one of the rebel gurus, and therefore thought his presence meant authority. He soon found how wrong he was. In split seconds, convinced that he would be mutilated at any moment in a hail of bullets, Woewiyu said, he jumped into the near by bush with his fleeing bodyguards. As they dashed for the bush, explained the rebel spokesman now Senator, the fighters opened fire behind them, missing them by inches in the dark tropical night. He said the plot was to have him executed along with anyone with him to erase evidence. Woewiyu said, when he arrived in Gbarnga a shaken and disturbed man, he approach "Charlie", the name only, he emphasized, could call Taylor. Taylor laughed the attack off and promised to investigate. He said it was at this time that he (Woewiyu) got angry because he knew, and was convinced, that there was nothing to investigate. He demanded punishment for the rebels but his demand amounted to nothing. From that day onwards, Woewiyu explained, he was convinced he was a marked man. So when he heard that Sam Dokie, a comrade of close personal links, was killed, Woewiyu is reported to have cried, "Oh God! I am next"! Despite the personal ties between the late Dokie, his family and Woewiyu, the latter never attended Dokie's funeral, afraid, perhaps, of incurring Taylor's wrath.
But Woewiyu's second encounter with ordered execution allegedly emanating from Taylor was in 1996, during the Taylor-Kromah Monrovia Terror when 3000 persons were killed and the most remaining parts of Monrovia burnt down. Woewiyu, J. Lavali Supuwood, and Sam Dokie were hiding at Dokie's Mamba Point home when the fighting broke out. Fortunately, both the late Dokie and Woewiyu explained as we sailed on the pirate Nigerian ship The Bulk Challenge to flee from the terror, they had access to a telephone. So they called the ECOMOG Commander, then a good friend, for a rescue from advancing NPFL fighters with orders to execute all NPFL's enemies, among them the triumvirate of Dokie, Supuwood and Woewiyu who had defected to form their own rebel movement. A few minutes after they were bundled into a Guinean ECOMOG military truck and hidden under plastic bags bound for ECOMOG base, the three comrades heard that their hiding place was in flames, attacked with mortars and machine gunfire. The plan was to burn them alive.
For Supuwood, his ordeal began behind NPFL lines, and at one point, he was ordered publicly flogged to have him humbled. Flogging of lieutenants as a form of humiliation, and to emphasize the point that Taylor was the Alpha and Omega, became prominent in the rebel movement.
What is evident in these developments is the extent of ordered elimination of lieutenants within the rebel movement now a government. Inside NPFL sources reveal that as a way of monitoring the movements or thoughts of his key disciples, Taylor ensured that their wives became his mistresses. Through this, he could monitor how his men thought and behaved. This cult of depravity showed the extent of the warlord's influence over the minds of the men that followed him. It was, as now, a cult in which men had no minds but only blind followers. Those who rebelled simply died or were lucky to escape.
We may never, ever know what killed Dogolea, although we are convinced he was poisoned. As NPFL party chief Cyril Allen correctly says, "They will make noise and the noise will die down". Soon, like Dokie, Dogolea will be a forgotten case. The noise will die down and we will see life in Taylor's Liberia as normal, that is, until the next victim. God help us!
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