Friday, 24 January 2014

When presidential escort 1 escorts drugs

Although there’s no good news, recent news that the head of Liberian presidential motorcade, Perry Dolo was caught red handed ferrying drugs is good news. Dolo’s alleged to have used presidential escort vehicle famously known as Escort 1 to smuggle 297 kilograms cannabis from neighbouring Sierra Leone.
AFP quoted Anthony Souh, Director of Liberia’s Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA) as saying, “He took the car during his day off to go do this thing. He was not on duty, but he used the official car.” Again, whether Dolo had a day off or not is another issue. Many still wonder.  How such a sensitive device could be taken as easy as that. Does it mean that the state house has no supervision to know as to when Escort 1 is at work or not? Does it make sense to say that Escort 1 was taken without authorities being aware if at all its function is to lead presidential motorcade? Whose motorcade did it lead when it went to a neighbouring country to smuggle cannabis? How many times has Dolo been doing this? How many Dolos does Africa have?
Being President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf confidante, many are still looking for the connection so that they can connect the dots. Again, how could Dolo confidently involve in such crime without backing or the knowledge of those above him?
When it comes to scandals, Sirleaf is not new to scandals and controversy. Before Dolo’s scandal, there was the scandal involving her family. It came to light that her two sons are holding high position in her government something that many interpret as nepotism.
Sirleaf’s son Charles is deputy governor of the Central Bank of Liberia. Another son, Fumba is head of the National Security Agency. The third, Robert, is a senior adviser and chairman of the state-owned National Oil Company of Liberia. What makes things worse is the fact that those two sons of the president were appointed by the president herself. Such a move, apart from being construed as nepotism, it is seen as pointlessly turning Liberia into Sirleaf’s kingdom if not a family estate. All this defeats the expectations Liberians had when they voted in Sirleaf as a first female president. The world was used to hear such things happening in kingdoms such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other venal states such as former Zaire, Congo, Guinea Equator, Togo and Gabon where rulers turned those countries into private ventures they’d share with the members of their clans and families.
When Sirleaf’s scandal involving her sons surfaced, Sirleaf’s noble prize co-recipient, Leymah Gbowee registered her dissatisfaction with the way the country was being manned by Sirleaf, Gbowee was quoted as saying, “I've been through a process of really thinking and reflecting and saying to myself 'you're as bad as being an accomplice for things that are happening in the country if you don't speak up.”  So she decided to speak up.
When Gbowee was asked for her comment on Sirleaf’s son’s allegations of corruption she minced no words, "He's a senior economic adviser and that's well and good - but to chair the oil company board - I think it's time he stepped aside."
Although Sirleaf has been making Liberians to believe she will thwart corruption, it came to light that she is a pillar of corruption. The 2012 U.S. State Department has report had this to say about Liberia, “Officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.” So too, the report talked about weakness in the country’s judicial system and a lack of political will to fight corruption.
Mid last year, the Head of Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. Frances Johnson-Allison said that friendship and family pressures were seriously hampering President Johnson-Sirleaf's stance against corruption and other negative vices in the country. Interestingly, neither president herself nor her spokesposen denied or disputed such allegations.
Looking at the above mentioned scandals involving president Sirleaf, it is going to be difficult for her to distance herself with Escort 1 scandal. Now that it is an open secret that presidential vehicle has been smuggling drugs into Liberia, how many such greedy and myopic persons Africa has in many state houses? Is this the reason why some African countries have become a good hub-cum-corridor of drugs?  Is it why some African rulers have nary even wasted any time to launch war against drug trafficking? Again, was Dolo acting solo or in conjunction with others?  There are many more questions than answers.
Source: Business Times Jan. 24, 2014.

No comments: