Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Past's Vengeance


Jenkins K.Z.B. Scott
"He threw me in prison with men so that I could be used before the day," remembered one of Liberia's best-known artists and political activists, Miatta Fahnbulleh.

"He is a very wicked man," she added, in reference to the one-time all mighty Justice Minister of the ruthless military junta, the People's Redemption Council (PRC), Jenkins Z.B. Scott, now on his knees begging for food in garbage dumps.

There were more victims of this era with Mr. Scott at the top of its commanding height. Mr. Yarsue Weh Dorlia, now a Commissioner at the Governance Commission (GC), remembers his ordeals at the hands of the unquestioned Justice Minister.

"He declared me a wanted man and that I should be brought before him in whatever form", the calm and soft-spoken man said.

This meant where ever he was seeing, he could be shot and his body brought before the government's enforcers in whatever form.

These were was the same orders that were given when this writer escaped, with the Government, Minister Scott at the forefront, declaring that I was "armed and dangerous." and shout be shot wherever I was found. There was no need for charges or trial for crimes committed.

Mr. Dorlia after his imprisonment without charge or trial, said he was released, with Minister Scott telling him that he was letting him go because it would be better to have him out than in prison, again implying he was game out there. Anyone could shoot him.

Mr. Scott loomed high in the system and he was Justice Minister when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as an opposition figure, was arrested and thrown in prison, also with men. Insiders at the time say he ordered her arrest, naturally upon orders from his boss, Gen. Samuel K. Doe.

It was evident that Mrs. Sirleaf, like others on the same platform who dared to question the excesses of The junta, were hated figures in the eyes of men like Scott. So when he declared her unfit to contest the senatorial during the 1985 elections, it is also certain that he never contemplated on time's unpredictable verdict, which is that one day she would be president, and that he would ask her to be her shoe-shine boy, a request she would dismiss, urging him to use his skills and training as a lawyer in a now emerging competitive setting.

In the mid 1980s following serious mismanagement and sanction plundering of state resources that on one could question without being declared 'enemy of the state, the US Government sent in a team of financial experts who were stationed at the Ministry of Finance. To avoid counter-checking and scrutiny, officials at the Ministry, with fingers pointed at then Minister Guy Jones, sat key financial documents ablaze. The US experts would leave the country in despair.

But it was the Justice Minister, Jenkins Scott, who ordered the arrest of several journalists and dumped them in prison for daring to write the story.

In 1985 or so, this writer was arrested with claims that he was brainchild of series of anti-military junta articles, particularly the underground leaflet REACT (Revolutionary Action Committee, based at the University of Liberia). There were several interrogations at the National Security Agency (NSA), then notorious as a torture chamber. The interrogators found no evidence of the allegations, but I was ordered flown to Belle Yalla, the site of what used to be the country's maximum prison primarily for political prisoners and hardened criminals. On the day I was ordered flown to Belle Yalla and accompanied by a squad of well-armed soldiers, the pilot, later killed, rejected the orders, a highly risky act at the time, without the relevant court documents justifying the imprisonment. Despite threats from armed soldiers, many of them illiterate and kinsmen of the military ruler, the pilot refused. As I was bundled to be taken back to NSA prisons, the pilot shouted his memorable words: 'Tom, you're lucky! You're lucky ooh!'

But Jenkins Scott, capable of making all such things possible at the time, found the solution to make the flight possible. He immediately signed the prison papers for the next day after carving his own charges. That day never came, because I escaped and disappeared into exile, convinced I would have been executed.

As I left the fascist and notorious NSA and Government security explaining why I was leaving, and the reason was that the regime was lawless and brutish. I could not submit to it.

Jenkins Scott missed me. Again, like in the case of Mrs. Sirleaf, it never occurred to him that I would one day run a newspaper that would bring his plight to public attention for salvation.

The excess under the government, with Jenkins Scott as its enforcer of the 'law,' were many and extreme. Arbitrary executions, disappearances, torture, all ranked high, necessitating the war for which many good people are blamed because of its excesses since it was led by the same individuals that greased the military junta, Charles Taylor and Jenkins Scott, the latter hired after the government he protected fell apart.

Ms. Fahnbulleh recalled the mutilation, alive, of John Nuah, a military officer from Nimba County, then considered enemy land. "I didn't know him, but the way the killed him..."

He was arrested on the normal charge of planning to overthrow the government mad brought before the government's key members. One was Harrison Pennoh, later killed in 1990 at the Free Port after Prince Johnson captured President Doe. They first cut off his ear, she recalled as she heard from insiders. As he bled, they cut off the other ear. He lost consciousness. The executioners ordered water to be poured on him because they wanted him to feel the pains and agonize. As he gained consciousness, they began to mutilate him until life ran out of his body. Jenkins Scott was the Justice Minister.

Ms. Fahnbulleh believes such men reap what they sow. She said there are many ordinary people needing mental help, and that to single out men like Scott and ignore them is unfair. This is still a country without mental help clinics.

"He was very wicked man? she said. Indeed, there are many walking the streets, except that they have not yet reached Scott's level.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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