Liberia: September 18
It was all about settling scores. Charles Taylor had turned it into a defense for justice. A five-man Council of State was reduced to just a one-man show. It was wrong! Stupidity in leadership was rife. It became costly. ULIMO-J leader, Roosevelt Johnson was Taylor’s target. Some kind of arms sale deal evaporated! What manner of thinking was that? Taylor was at war with everyone. Of course, Johnson’s ULIMO had battled it out with Taylor’s NPFL’s rebels.
September 18 was about what Taylor wanted. Known for his shenanigans, Taylor would infiltrate warring factions amid inducements. Roosevelt Johnson is blamed for the death of one of his own bodyguards. Was that true? No investigation was ever carried out up till today. It was not the Ministry of Justice under the Council of State that acted as per the law. It was about Taylor’s push for vendetta. Taylor had seen an ideal moment to get even with Roosevelt Johnson. He seized but was wrong!
The Council of State resembled a Mogadishu-styled power-sharing government where lawlessness abound. Notwithstanding, Charles Taylor wanted to be seen as the guy who could enforce law and order. Rebel forces dubbed ‘government forces’ were ordered into action to arrest Roosevelt Johnson. They ambushed Roosevelt Johnson’s Sinkor residence to effect a so-called arrest at the behest of Charles Taylor.
They say, in time of peace, prepare for war. Roosevelt Johnson and his men couldn’t have been asleep. What should have been an arrest of a member of a power-sharing government degenerated into a barbaric full-scale war. How come? Police, in any civilization, effect arrest! How did it change? There wasn’t anything called the police! No one was prepared to disarm. Rag-tagged rebels had come to Monrovia – parading in huge convoys in a sickening style.
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Charles Taylor committed an unpardonable sin! It was morally and politically untenable to mastermind a pseudo arrest that turned into a 90-day war. It was senseless! Taylor was wrong! There was no one courageous enough to tell the bandit the truth. Sycophants, as we have today, have always been around from time immemorial. Charles Taylor’s enablers joined in the stupor of insanity that all was just okay.
Civilians were dying because of one man’s stupidity and lust. Roosevelt Johnson and his men had retreated to the Barclay Training Center. What was seemingly an arrest, but turned into brutal war continued. Day after day; week after week, Charles Taylor became wary as his stratagem was running out of steam. Roosevelt Johnson was commanding the beleaguered yet fearless fighting men and women of the remnants of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to slug it out with Charles Taylor and Alhaji Kromah’s rebels. The Liberia Peace Council (LPC) reinforced factor cannot be ruled out though.
It was unimaginable! How could the embattled Barclay Training Center be slugging it out in the absence of resupply of arms and ammunition? The gallant men and women behind the walls of the Barclay Training Center held onto their fortified fort. After three months, Charles Taylor mindlessly bowed in shame. Wise men, they say, plan wars; and fools execute them. But the innocent lives that got lost were because of the insanity of some people we assume, are leaders. Charles Taylor, who, some see as a freedom fighter – was inevitably Liberia’s cursed version of Adolph Hitler. Our memories are of the innocent killed and the blood shed in the name of a mindless adventure.
Ekena Wesley, Ekena Wesley, [email Protected], Contributing Writer