By: Bruce James (September 13th 2005)
"... Mr. Woewiyu’s letter to Mrs. Sirleaf really brought out things that many of us Liberians have been left wondering about for many years. What really went wrong? Why was the war executed in the manner in which it was? Why was war, as opposed to a popular people’s upraising preferred? Why was a known conman in the person of Charles Taylor, as opposed to someone of proven integrity chosen to lead that enterprise? ...."
With politicking at a feverish pitch in Liberia, I have recently been watching very closely the situation as it unfolds in our nation. Of particular interest to me have been the platforms, or if you may contracts, that the various political actors are presenting the Liberian people to justify why they should be trusted to administer our affairs over the next six years. For the next few weeks that are left for the conclusion of the political campaign, I am going to endeavor to dissect what these people are promising in order to help us make sound decisions as to which direction our country should thread.
But before plunging into this quest, I wish to concentrate this write up on two issues—the first, something I consider a side issue, while the second is, in my view, very pertinent to the future well being of our nation. I will first quickly dispatch the side issue.
I like to state for the records that, as I indicated in my last article, Mr. Zotawon Rambo Titus was a “Brigade Adjutant of the feared NPFL’s cannibalistic Marine Division (under Gen. Melvin Sogbandi)”—something that he is strenuously denying, since he did not expect anybody to have such information concerning his past pursuits as an insurgent during the civil war.
Mr. Rambo Titus in a recent rant against me, published in the Heritage Newspaper, lamely tried to extricate himself from his role as the NPFL’s Marine Division’s Brigade Adjutant. I stand by this assertion and challenge Rambo to prove that he never served the NPFL in this and other roles in the early days of the Liberian civil war, precisely between 1990 and 1994. My information is that Titus remained in the fore of the NPFL struggle until 1994 when there was a mass defection of several NPFL top military and civilian leaders following a disagreement with Mr. Taylor on where their war machinery was heading. For this I must give Rambo a pat on the back.
Mr. Titus was rewarded, after Mr. Taylor became president with an Assistant Ministerial job at the Ministry of Post & Telecommunication, having, along with his former comrade, Tom Woewiyu, mended fences with Taylor. He first served under former NPFL Special Forces Commando, Mesaweh Paybay. Paybay was the person who initially introduced Titus to life as a rebel. He later served his former Marine Division boss, Gen. Melvin Sogbandie, who he is shamelessly trying to disown. He has apparently forgotten the countless weeks he and Sogbandie spent in #2 Compound in Grand Bassa County planning and strategizing the affairs of their division.
To close this petty matter of Mr. Zotawon Rambo Titus, who is now the propaganda chief of the New Deal Movement political party, let him be warned that if he continues denying his role in the mayhem that was perpetrated against the Liberian people by him and his kinsmen, regardless of what justifications they had for participating in the conflict, a photo of him, dressed in full military regalia will be made available to the Liberian media, so that he is once and for all annihilated. Be forewarned Titus.
Now to move on to the actual and more important reason for this write up—the origins and sponsors of the NPFL—those people who organized and funded the armed struggle in Liberia, but have refused to fully owned up to their errors.
Several weeks ago, in my first article titled: “Too Many Candidates, the Way Forward”, I indicated that the last category of candidates, which included Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, and Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, provided the best in terms of leadership opportunities for our nation. At the time I was of the illusion that the issue of one’s participation or support for the civil war should not be a deciding yardstick for determining whether or not a candidate is competent enough to govern our devastated nation.
But then, in the last few days, I have come across two articles—the first being an article published in the Vanguard Newspaper, and the other being an Open Letter from Former NPFL Defense Minister, Tom Woewiyu outlining the involvement of certain individuals and political institutions in the hatching of myriad of plots aimed at deposing the Doe Government, not because of any disagreement based on principles with the regime, but purely to settle a vendetta and in the process ascend to power. Let me hasten to state for the records that I am not and was never a fan of the Doe regime, because of its corrupt and abusive nature.
Mr. Woewiyu’s letter to Mrs. Sirleaf really brought out things that many of us Liberians have been left wondering about for many years. What really went wrong? Why was the war executed in the manner in which it was? Why was war, as opposed to a popular people’s upraising preferred? Why was a known conman in the person of Charles Taylor, as opposed to someone of proven integrity chosen to lead that enterprise? The answers to most of these questions can only be provided by the actual actors, but till they come clean, we will have to speculate about their motives.
These questions and many more have continued to bother me especially considering that I have given one of the major culprits a clean bill of health to contest the Liberian Presidency. But as our laws say everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Although we are not in any court of law, I expect that Mrs. Sirleaf will come clean as it concerns the issues raised by Mr. Woewiyu, so that the court of public opinion can judge.
Having waited for over three days since Woewiyu’s allegations against Mrs. Sirleaf, we have witnessed with alarm the deafening silence from the accused. The renowned economist has elected, though she’s had the opportunity over this period to clear the air regarding this issue, to remain silent and address the issue through surrogates.
But notwithstanding, it is worth noting with interest, statements emanating from top echelon members of the Ellen for President campaign committee. Two members of this committee in persons of Mr. David Kortie and Mr. Augustine Ngafuan, instead of providing substantive rebuttals to the allegations raised by Mr. Woewiyu, resorted to launching foolish and childish attacks on Woewiyu calling him a thief and a war criminal.
I was greatly disappointed when I got these responses from the Ellen people. What does Mr. Woewiyu’s war crimes past and his past criminal records (if any) have to do with the allegations that he and Mrs. Sirleaf collaborated closely in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia’s two endeavors at destabilizing our country, the latter of which led to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives that I just cannot fathom?
As indicated earlier, I gave Mrs. Sirleaf a clean bill of health to contest the Liberian presidency as one of the better choices for the future advancement of our nation. I must sadly state here that I am constrained to suspend this view, pending this lady’s providing irrefutable evidence to dispel the Tom Woewiyu accounts of her involvement in the NPFL debacle.
While awaiting Mrs. Sirleaf to provide these clarifications, I have embarked upon my own investigation by contacting some of the individuals prominently mentioned in Mr. Woewiyu’s Open Letter. I must confess that what these individuals are telling me are shocking to say the least about what the “Iron Lady’s” involvement actually was in the war effort. I am going to leave this to a subsequent write up on the issues at hand.
But now let me give a little time to some of the sickening/troubling information Woewiyu made available in his letter that showed that Mrs. Sirleaf was not just an innocent advocate of the Taylor war campaign. In fact Woewiyu’s letter strongly indicate that she was the force behind the entire NPFL and that it was she who decided that the rebel leader was conman Charles Taylor, probably thinking that he was docile to politics and could thus be used to accomplish her agenda. He also indicated that he (Woewiyu) was at the beck and call of Mrs. Sirleaf in the NPFL arrangement—and even intimated that it was she that gave him and Col. Harry Greaves, Jr. their commissions as NPFL Defense Minister and political liaison respectively. Woewiyu asserts that his “first trip to the Ivory Coast to meet with Charles Taylor, Harry Yuan, Moses Duopu and others to assess the level of military plan of action for the purpose of removing Doe was sponsored by you [Ellen] and others, in the wake of the failed Quinwonkpa coup of which you [Ellen] played a major role. At the time, you [Ellen] were personally supporting Harry Yuan in the rapid re-recruitment of his fellow Nimbaian and Clarence Simpson was supporting Moses Duopu, the late Counselor Gbaydiah and others in the Ivory Cost to launch another arm attack on the Doe Regime following the botched Quinwonkpa coup. If you [Ellen] can recall, after my visit, to the Ivory Coast, the three men split up in search of a possible training base and support. Duopu went to Nigeria, Harry Nyan to Senegal and Taylor to Burkina Faso. It was Taylor who first found the possible avenue to accomplish the mission.”
Woewiyu suggest that Mrs. Sirleaf was the “Commander in Chief” of the NPFL and personally over saw the execution of the war effort including the infamous Operation Octopus in 1992, which left Monrovia in a state of ruins—a situation that the city has since being unable to recover from. The former NPFL Defense Minster says the statement, attributed to Ellen calling for the “leveling” of Monrovia “…could have only come from the real Head of State and Commander in Chief whose Army was the NPFL…. You issued the order, and it was executed including the notorious OCTOPUS, which finally wrecked Monrovia.”
To read from Woewiyu that Mr. Sirleaf’s “callous” attempt at cajoling Mr. Taylor to turn over the running of the country to the Liberian Action Party (LAP) on the premise that they had won the 1985 elections, was what led to Taylor’s extermination of Jackson F. Doe was to say the least troubling. Astonishingly Woewiyu states that Mrs. Sirleaf “…went to the war front at Gborplay, Nimba County where the NPFL still had its Headquarters and told Charles Taylor and others in leadership of the organization that you [Ellen] and I had agreed that the Government would be given to Liberian Action Party once the Doe Government was deposed…. I have always wondered as to what this careless and selfish statement of yours had to do with how Jackson Doe ended up when he crossed over to NPFL land. Did those people see Jackson Doe as the LAP you [Ellen] wanted the Government turned over to? How come Jackson Doe's disappearance was never really a big concern of yours until lately? When Jackson F. Doe crossed over from Fendell to Kakata in mid 1990, I was in Sierra Leone at a peace conference. Taylor told me it was a big day of jubilation in Greater Liberia. To let you know he was well. That he had been given a nice and fitting home in Buchanan. A month or so later, Jackson could not be found.”
The former Liberian Action Party (LAP) and now Unity Party’s (UP) Iron Lady must come clean as it relates these troubling allegations that in some quarters have been described, as “facts” especially since it emanates from some one who was an active and senior participant in the NPFL war effort.
Finally, as I close this initial write up on this issue I expect Mrs. Sirleaf, or whomever she has designated as her official spokesperson to kindly clear the air as it relates the following unanswered questions/issues:
1. Was Jackson Doe killed as a result of her “careless statement”, or did she order his death, considering that she was heir apparent of the Liberian Action Party? Mr. Woewiyu’s Open Letter seemed to suggest either or both of these situations.
2. What were the actual roles of “Moose” (Amos Sawyer) and his understudies, Dusty Wolokollie, Commany Wesseh et al in these plots? Can their decision to join her political institution be considered as a part of her endgame strategy? What has been and is the nature of her continue dealings with Mr. Allen Brown through whom Woewiyu claimed she channeled tens of thousands dollars for the up keep of the “boys” on the training base in Libya?
3. Why and how did her supposedly heroic decision to remove a tyranny result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our compatriots and the near total decimation of our nation? Didn’t she and her other collaborators have a political plan to control the military wing of their rebellion?
4. Did she actually ever owned and used a “BULLSHIT” stamp for correspondence that she disliked? If yes is it still in use? What was the rationale behind such a shenanigan?
Answers to these and many other pertinent issues as it surround the hashing and execution of the two NPFL rebellions will greatly help in providing the Liberian populace the answers to burning issues that have lingered on our minds for over two decades. Coming clean will especially help to consolidate the support of those who believe in Mrs. Sirleaf’s leadership aspirations for our country.
As I await the actual/real clarifications that will be provided by our renowned “Iron Lady”, permit me to close with the words that I take solace in the fact that, of all the allegations that Mr. Woewiyu made in his “Open Letter”, absolutely none pointed to the involvement of my other two choices for the presidency of our country. There is absolutely nothing in Woewiyu’s allegations that accuses any of these two individuals of ever been involved with their NPFL expeditions.
Bruce James is an independent Liberian political commentator who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org