Doe - The Complete Story
How Doe was butchered
Varios media have written stories on the Doe Saga based on hearsay or shallow
interviews from one or two douptful sources. But Newbreed report is an exclusive, incisive story
based on in-depth investigations and supported by the pictorial account of a Liberian International
Photo Journalist, Sando Moore, who covered Liberia and Doe over the course of his own
ten year rule.
It has now been confirmed that the downfall of ex-President Samuel Kanyon Doe of Liberia was caused by
his handing-of the transition to civil rule programme initiated by his regime. His bastardisation of the
whole process, and the elaborate scheme wich which he transformed himself from a military dictator to an
unwanted civilian president are also said to be at the core of the Pogrom taking place in Liberia today.
lt has also been established that his most fatal mistake, the immediate cause of the civil war and the
one that finally drove him to his early grave was his, enstrangement - and subsequent execution of his
former ally, General Thomas Quiwonkpa, and the continuous harassment of his tribesmen, the Gio and the
Mano of Nimba County. His greed for Power and bis unwillingness to quit the number one Position for a
civilian were said to have been the reasons for his troubles with» Quiwonkpa, one of the original members
of the People's Redemption Council (PRC) which came to Power on April 12, 1980, after the violent
overthrow of William Tolbert's regime.
lt is also noteworthy that Prince Yormie Johnson, the man whose rebel forces captured President Doe,
mutilated his body and later dispatched him to the world beyond, was former Aide de Camp to General
According to an insider's account, the trouble between him and Quiwonkpa started when Doe began to hint
at his interest in civilian presidency in early 1983, to the chagrirt of his Commanding General
(equivalent of Chief Chief of Army Staff). Quiwonkpa was reported to have said an emphatic no.
During the welcome/support rally for PRC by workers and students in 1980, a representative, John Forkpa
had urged Doe in a statement he read an their behalf to announce the day of return to civil rule, as it
was considered an utmost priority. Doe had responded a few months alter, by setting up a commission to
draft a new constitution to re place the old one. It.was headed by Dr. Amos Sawyer, the man who has now
been elected interim President of Liberia under the auspices of Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS). The draft was presented to PRC in 1983 and later approved by a referendum. The government Set
1985 as the year for return to civil rule.
It was said to be unacceptable to a man like Quiwonkpa, therefore, when Doe started impressing an him
that PRC members must remain in power after 1985. Petty quarrels were said to have developed between
these two allies, with Quiwonkpa insisting that he was a soldier and had no plans to get involved in
civilian politics. To prove this point, insiders point out thatt up to the time Quiwonkpa was finally
chucked out of his Commanding General position in 1983, he stayed in the barracks with the soldiers,
while the rest of the PRC members viere living in opulent settings.
Some attribute Doe's deep-rooted tribalism and his sense of insecurity as being the final straw that
severed this comradeship. According to these sources, Doe took the advice of a fellow Krahn's man,
Senator John Rancy, one of his special advisers who was believed to have tutored him in the method of
perpetuating himself in power. Rancy, had asked him to remove Quiwonkpa as Commanding General of the army
to curtail his powers. Doe did and gave hirn a new job as Secretary General of the PRC - a much weaker
position which he rejected.
This developed into a füll grown confrontation and Doe had to call an all traditional rulers in the
country to intervene and talk Quiwonkpa into accepting his new position. Still he refused. A prophetic
warning rang out from the royal camp to these two: "When two elephants fight, the grass suffers", meaning
that innocent people would end up suffering from the Power play between the two army chiefs. Today, after
the death of both of them, innocent Liberians are still engrossed in tribal war resulting from this
conflict. At the time, all pleas for a peaceful settlement feil an deaf ears.
After this deadlock, Doe immediately went public with Quiwonkpa's forced removal from PRC, announcing
that he had been banned from seeing government officials, diplomats and other influential members of the
society. By this time, he had moved out of the barracks and was living an Centre Street in the heart of
Monrovia in his aunt's residence.
By now, Doe's penchant- for summary execution of his comrades was already becoming legendary. By 1981, he
had accused his second in command, Thomas Weh-Syen of subversive activities and subsequently executed
him. Nelson Toe, 22, the youngest member of PRC was executed with him. Doe claimed they were planning a
coup against him and he executed them along with three other colleagues who at the time were considered
the most progressive within the PRC. Oscar J. Quiah, a foundation member of PAL who he had appointed
Minister of Internal Affairs barely managed to escape execution. He was implicated along with the Coup
plotters, but was later released.
Rightly or wrongly, rumours were rife that he organised the tragic car accident in which Fallah Varney,
the First Secretary General of PRC died a few months after they came to power. Varney was the most
educated of the lot.
By this time, Doe had possibly forgotten the advice given to those in power by a notabie statesman and
former Ambassador, Dr. Henry Fahnbulleh Snr., the father of Maitta Fahnbulleh, a Liberian singer who is a
weil known face in Nigeria. In a keynote address delivered on the first Redemption Day Celebration (in
commemoration of the April 12 revolution) in Monrovia, he had warned against the trend that was then
evolving between Doe and his lieutenants. He had urged them not to encourage a Situation whereby dogs ate
dogs; whereby they would institutionafized the elimination of each other until they were all consumed by
the revolution. He gave the example of a tree which had all its branches - the source of its protection
and bouyancy - Cut off, leaving behind only the bare trunk.
According to a newsmagazine report, he had by now become paranoid and he found good sport in hunting down
his colleagues and aides, maintaining only those related to him by tribe.
Quiwonkpa soon found himself under heavy surveillance, although itt was reported at this time that
because of his popularity in the barracks, soldiers did make overtures to him, proposing to support a
coup in his favour. Morever, the division in the PRC had taken tribal overtones and by ttie time Doe
removed Quiwonkpa as army chief, the Gios and Manos of Nimba County (his home county) felt they had had
enough. An armed raid purported to be the handiwork of his supporters, and his people took place later in
the county, with the Gios and Manos attacking government installations.
A good number of Doe's supporters in Nimba County were killed in the raid - including government
officials. General Saye, a man who attained the rank of a General before military ranks became corrupted
by Doe, also lost his life in the event. The uprising was successfully put down by government troops but
later reprisals by Krahn government soldiers against the Gios and Manos created the basis for further
inter-tribal conflicts among 'native' Liberians. lt was to fuel the fire of revenge kllings which started
two years later.
Analysts have noted that despite his percived failures in other areas, Nigeria's Former president, Shehu
Shagari's handling of Liberia was visionary. In 1980, after Doe had executed Tolbert and others, Shagari
refused to shake hands with him claiming that Doe's hands were blood-stained. Ibis position led to frosty
relations developing between the two countries.
However, under Babangida, Nigeria actively embraced Doe to the extent that Doe even became IBB's special
confidant. In his last days, Nigeria was the only West African country Doe visited ostensibly for other
reasons. Hit true mission was soon unmasked when newspaper reports started suggesting that he had come to
Nigeria wich a shopping list for arms.
In fact, the relationship between Nigeria and Liberia under IBB has been so warm that today a
post-graduate school of International relations named alter President Ibrahirn Babangida stands in
Monrovia as a testimony to that fact.
In the wake of the creation of ECOMOG, a peace-keeping force created by ECOWAS, allegations have been
rife that Nigeria spearheaded the move in order to ball out Doe. But discounting such suggestions,
President' Babangida stated in an interview with West Africa magazine that the deliberations of the
live-nation ECOWAS mediation committee which met in Banjul, Gambia in August, accepted that Doe must go
and started working an it. According to IBB: "We were in contact with him and sent a lot of messages to
him and told him that in the interest of the country, he should leave and alllow other people to come in
so that peace would reign."
But the fact remains that at the height of the crisis, it was on the Nigerian soil that Doe boasted that
everything was 'quite normal' in his country, and that if it had been otherwise, he would not have been
in Lagos to pay President Babangida a sympathy visit over the April,22, 1990 abortive Coup. President
Babangida's answer in , West Africa magazine is, therefore, seen as totaily irrelevant and in essence,
not a refutation of Nigeria's cosy relationship wich Liberia and the obvious support for Doe's regime
until it became apparent within ECOWAS' circles that they had no choice but to ask Doe to resign.
Many Liberians who are lucky enough to be alive today amongst the ruins of Liberia and outside it agree
that, if only there was a crystal ball with which to foretell the future they would have stuck with
William Tolbert, the 'devil' they knew as President rather than welcome with open arms, the unknown
'angel', Master-Sergeant Samuel Doe whose revolution was later to consume the country of about 2 million
people and turn its citizens into refugees.
When on April 12, 1980, they trooped into the streets in joyous weicome of Doe as their new Head of
State little did they know that they were inaugurating a ten-year reign of terror. Little did they know
that the uncouth school drop-out born of Krahn parents from Tuzon in Grand Geddeh County would soon sow
enduring seeds of violence, cruelly redefine tribal relations in the country, kill most of the men with
whom he shot his way into power, chase the cream of the society into exile and turn Africa's oldest
independent nation into a theatre of macabre.
Looking back now, a Liberian refugee said that in that period of euphoria in 1980, many Liberians forgot
that the popular adage that 'morning shows the day'. When Doe and his band of seventeen revolutionaries
all non commissioned soldiers - announced the murder of President Tolbert and later dragged his naked
body all over town, the citizenry was ecstatic. After all, they had wanted Tolbert out of power for a
long time. "We didn't know that it was the sign of things to come," Newbreed was told.
For many, especially those of the American extraction, Doe's terror began with the disgraceful
assassination of Tolbert and the subsequent harassment of the Americo-Liberian dominated executive,
legislature and the True Whig Party hierarchy. Doe's men arrested men of 'timbre and calibre', all very
powerful and vey influential. James A. Pierre, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia; Richard
Henries, Speaker of the House of Assembly; Frank Tolbert, President Pretempore of the Liberian Senate and
elder brother of the slain President; Clarence Parker, Treasurer of the True Whig Party and Chairman of
the National Investment Commission; James Phillips, Finnance Minister; Frank Stewart, Director of Budget
and Joseph Chesson, Minister, of Justice were amongst the lot that were subjected to days of gruelling
interrogation (some of them in their underpants) by a Special Military Tribunal.
When thirteen of them were finalty executed publicly for their 'crime against the nation', excitable
young soldiers celebrated the new order by taking turn to cope wich the corpses of the 'executive rogues'
which Doe, the 'liberator' had just ridden the society of. Their plush homes were taken over by the new
military government. Others, like President Tolbert's son-in-law, B. Holder were lucky to escape with
their lives, but their houses were burnt to ashes by Doe's soldiers.
On the way to his execution, Frank Tolbert was said to have muttered under his breath: "1 told my brother
to let us get rid of these country boys: If only he had listened ..."
Yet historical facts show, that it was Tolbert and his generation of AmericoLiberians that prepared the
stage for the 'country boys' to violently seize political power in 1980 after 133 years of uninterrupted
rule. Specificaly, they prepared the stage for the man Doe to emerge on the political scene.
When in the 1840s free American slaves arrived in Liberia through Providence Island, they came with their
affected air of superiority, relegating the natives to second class citizens, wich little or no political
and economic power. Subsequent generations of aborigines began to resent the Status quo.
Not only this, the Americo-Liberian ruling cläss was corrupt to the hilt in all endeavours. They were
acquiring houses, landed property, etc, as if there was no tomorrow. Steve Tolbert, the President's
younger brother was busy playing investor, buying up the whole of Liberia through dubious means. There
were charges of abuse of human rights, misuse of public office, and so on.
Agitation for change reached a peak in the Tolbert era. The Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) headed
by Dr. Togbanah Tipoteh, a political econornist became more vocal and began to mobilise young people for
change. A strong political base emerged at the University of Liberia where the Student Union (LINSU)
became a strong voice of opposition. Another body, Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) led by Bacchus
Mathews formed a powerful agitation group.
Many argue that what whetted the ground for the arrival of Doe was the rice riot of 1979 which seriously
bowed the head of the Tolbert government. Right an its heels, came a very strong congress staged by MOJA
from March 28 to 30, 1980, wich the all-inciting motto: "Our eyes are open. The time of the,people has
come." Thirteen days later, MasterSergeant Doe came to power.
Liberia' death toll must have risen to about 20 people, including some members of Tolbert's family and
soldiers that were charged with looting and executed, in the first two weeks of Doe's reign. By the time
he was killed by Prince Yormie Johnson's troops an September 9, this year, the list had become
inexhaustible, killing friends and foes in what political pundits describe as bis drive to perpetuate
himself in the palatial executive mansion preserved for Liberian Presidents. Those he could not kill he
had either put in jail or unwittingly driven into other countries to find solace. He was no longer the
hero Liberians had celebrated in those First early months. He had become the Problem in Liberia instead
of the solution he promised to be.
Doe's critics talk of his penchant for turning bis friends into foes as one of his tragic flaws, for in
the end it was these once-upon-a-time associates who survived his murderous stampede and regrouped in
exile, that were later to be his waterloo. Apart from the Nimba raid of 1983, Quiwonkpa also instigated
the abortive coup of November 12, 1985, with his National Patriotic Force of Liberia (NPFL). When Charles
Taylor, also a former ally, invaded Liberia an December 12, 1989, he announced an BBC that his band of
guerrillas was a continuation of the NPFL.
Quiwonkpa, a fine-looking gentleman in his twenties was reported to be the most respectable and
reasonable member of the People's Redemption Council. lt is on record that he was the one who organised
the revolution. He was the first Commanding General of the Liberian Army under Doe who was Chairman of
the Council. He was said to be a man of discipline, who had strong reins, not only over the army boys,
but also over bis fellow PRC members.
lt is a common folk tale in Liberia that if not for him, Doe would not have had the kind of authority he
needed to control other council members in the early days. He was chosen as coup Leader, and hence leader
of government for the simple reason that he was a football captain within the barracks. Secondly, as a
Master-Sergeant, he was the most senior ranking soldier amongst the lot (Thomas Weh Seyn who was next to
him was a Corporal). With each PRC member regarding himself as the Head of State, it took the Commanding
General, considered a powerful member of the Council, to force them to accept the authority of Doe. The
Chairman of the Council (Doe) in turn depended on him very much in those early days to gain respect as
Head of State.
The story is also told of how at the time, the Commanding General had to travel out of the country for a
few months to treat some serious medical ailment. There was a complete breakdown of law and order within
the ranks before he came back and it only took his timely intervention to restore order.
Quiwonkpa was the toast of the government. Foreign journalists who visited the country preferred to deal
with him because they found him the most amiable of the lot. When they went back to their respective
countries, they wrote positive stories about him, even when criticising Doe's government and describing
other PRC members as illiterate soldiers. At a time the Washington Post, an American newspaper described
him as the most reasonable person to talk to within the PRC.
These positive attributes were later said to have been the source of animosity between him and Doe. The
Head of State and a few other PRC members began to feel resentful because Quiwonkpa was getting all the
accolades. Doe particuIarly must have seen him as a potential danger to his own hold an power, although
many believe in those days that Quiwonkpa had no intention of being the Head of State.
Liberian watchers feel that Quiwonkpa's exit may have firmly established Doe in a position of unlimited
power which naturally made a despot of him. He was said to have found out that absolute power was
absolutely delightful. Unfortunately for him and his remaining few allies who were willing to oil his
need for sychophancy, the greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
When Doe came to power in 1980, he was hailed and supported by radical groups like LINSU, MOJA and PAL,
those that had brought down the Tolbert governmemt. For more than one week, there were solidarity marches
on the streets of Monrovia and market women were singing songs of victory. One went thus: "A native women
has born a soldier, and the soldier has brought the natives liberation."
He had tremendous goodwill and members of MOJA and PAL had helped the untutored and politically naive
young soldier to form his government. The bulk of his cabinet was made up of people who were in
opposition to Tolbert. But they were soon to learn that power pollutes whatever it touches.
Dr. Henry Boima Fahnbulleh Jnr., the very well educated son of the respected ambassador who was
considered the most impressive man within MOJA became the First Minister of Education under Doe. Bacchus
Mathews, leader of PAL was appointed foreign minister. When he moved Mathews to the less visible position
of director general of cabinet in 1982, he replaced him with Fahnbulleh Jnr.
Albert Port, a radical school teacher and government critic dating back to President Barclay's time did
not take up any political appointment, but in the early days of the coup, Doe and his men looked up to
him for advice. The relationship was such that a naval boat was named after him, but he soon fell out
with the government and began to criticise Doe through his legendary pamphlets which he sold an the
streets of Monrovia.
Soon, Doe was to introduce a forced induction of all cabinet ministers into the army to give him adequate
control over his appointees. Kate Bryant, a medical doctor and the first Minister of Health resigned
because she did not favour the idea.
Fahnbulleh Jnr. soon developed his difference with the government when he realised that instead of
honouring its pledge of living for the public, it was living off the public. In a keynote address he
delivered at the commencement programme of a secondary school in Monrovia as early as 1981, he spoke
against the flambouyant life styles of PRC members. He frowned at their driving posh luxury cars with
tinted glasses and occupying split level mansions. He reminded them that they were a pack of
revolutionaries who promised to change the society for the better.
Doe In return asked tim to retract the statement. He refused. Doe's reply was that Fahunbulleh Jnr. could
sell his car and properry if he so desired and give the proceeds to the masses. But he warned him that he
had no right whatsoever to dictate to PRC members how to live their lives. Some argue that this incident
was one of the instances that sent early signals to the progressives that the Head of State would not
tolerate any undue radicalism, neither would he jeopardise his capitalist tastes for the sake of the
Real trouble between the two started in 1983 when Liberia decided to establish diplomatic ties wich the
state of Israel. Fahunbulleh Jnr. said no, his argument being that as Foreign Minister, he did not think
it right for Doe to singlehandedly reverse a decision earlier agreed upon by member states of the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This led to his removal and subsequent exile to France.
Also unwisely, Doe was accused of bringing Americo-Liberians into his cabinet too early in his reign,
causing an unhealthy rivalry to develop between them and the native progressives.
When In 1981, the Weh Seyn coup allegation became an issue, Dr. Tipoteh, leader of MOJA whom he had made
Minister of Economic Planning was implicated. He was outside the country an an official assignment during
the trials and what saved his neck was that he never came home. Instead, he went an exile to the
Netherlands. In any case, Tipoteh was one of the first few to fall out with the Doe government because
the Head of State suddenly found his leftist views unattractive, and he was, therefore, not favoured in
the high echelon of decision making.
It is often argued that Tipoteh's departure was the turning point in Doe's relationship with the
progressives, and hence, a good majority of Liberians. He became paranoid and began to suspect almost
everybody in government as working against his interests.
Newbreed gathered that it was at this time that he began to develop the strategy with which he eliminated
those he believed were standing in bis way, or becoming too powerful for his peace of mied. He would
frame deadly charges against them - charges that could merit a death sentence. If he found the 'enemy'
not too dangerous, he would ostensibly show some benevolence and grant a general amnesty to the condemned
to gain political points with the public. Instances of this abound through his ten years of reign.
In 1985, after he had rigged his way into civilian presidency, claiming 51 per gent of the votes cast, he
sought to silense all voices of protest through the same means. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a leading member
of Liberian Action Party (LAP) which many claim actually won the 1985 elections, had contested and won a
senatorial seat. But she refused to take the seat in parliament due to a consensus by her party not to
participate in Doe's civilian government, which they believe had stolen LAP's mandate. It was to be the
beginning of her long-drawn problems wich the powers that be.
Doe implicated her in the bloody abortive coup of November 12, 1985 and later released her with some
others in a general amnesty. After she was released, she remained under heavy surveillance by security
men, but interestingly, she was able to escape from Liberia by driving a car to a town in Bassa County
(where Charles Taylor had a base). A chartered light aircraft was said to be waiting to take her into
exile in the United States where she became a strong voice of opposition.
Major-General Gray D. Allison, his third longest serving and most powerful ever Defense Minister was
not so lucky. After Doe had used him, his wife and his daughter, they were dumped like scum of the earth,
plunged from great heights of privilege to the lowest depths of despair.
As Defenee Minister, Allison filled the vacuum left behind by Quiwonkpa and restored discipline within
the army. A goodlooking man, he was a strict disciplinarian who Doe used a lot to eliminate a good number
of his opponents,either by throwing them out of favour or forcing them into exile. He was also Chairman
of the Joint Security Force of Liberia. He became very powerful. He was outspoken, charismatic and
generally possessed the personality of a leader. Although not too well liked he had his own following.
Doe, it was gathered, began to feel threatened.
In 1987, Allison and his wife Natta were implicated in the death of a police man, Melvin Pyne. Many
believe that they were framed for the pleasure of President Doe. Allison was tried by a court martial
board and sentenced to death by firing squad. Doe commuted it to life imprisonment, a gesture which some
Liberians believe confirmed that the charges were drummed up to remove all his powers and humiliate him.
Doe's magnanimity, they say, never came so easily. Allison did curse his accusers then, saying that all
those who gave false evidence against him would one day meet with doom. His wife was tried by a civilian
tourt and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Apart from his erstwhile comrade, Quiwonkpa, there were other allies whom the Head of State's consuming
passion to be civilian president of Liberia turned into his everlasting foes. One of these men was
Jackson F. Doe, (no relation of Samueel Doe), the leader of LAP and the man who many Liberians affirm
would have become the first President of the Second Republic if the elections of 1985 had been free and
fair. Dr. Amos Sawyer, the current interim President of Liberia is another.
Jackson F. Doe (JFD), an aborigine who according to a BBC report, was recently executed, just like Moses
Duapo by rebel leader, Charles Taylor, was Minister of Education in the Tolbert regime. He was also in
the top hierarchy of the True Whig Party. In the late 1970s when Tolbert's Vice President, James E. Green
died, JFD ought to have moved to the coveted Position according to the dictates of Party hierarchy.
However, this was kicked against by the AmericoLiberians who wanted a non-native in power. A caucus
meeting later endorsed the selection of an outspoken bishop, Bennie D. Warner, an Americo-Liberian to
become the next Vice President. JFD's first attempt at having real power was thwarted. Samuel Doe
thwarted his second opportunity through rigging, although they started off as associates.
After the coup of 1980, JFD was appointed an adviser to Doe. He was later removed and made the Managing
Director of National Ports Authority, the Position he held until 1984 when the ban an Politics was
lifted. He resigned to take up the Position of presidential candidate for LAP, in direct opposition to
Doe who also wanted the coveted prize. As such, a fall out was imminent.
In actual fact, it was widely agreed that he won 1985 presidential election, but was cheated by Doe - a
situation which earned him the tag: "The President that never was." Both he and his Party refused to
recognise Doe as president. Doe in turn tried to pacify him by appointing him Chairman of the Board of
Directors of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation, a position he turned down. He was
always under security surveillance by soldiers.
Doe had laid down an elaborate network to perpetuate himself in power. For instance, after Bacchus
Mathews' United People's Party (UPP), his National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) was launched next,
although in a military cantonment, Camp Shefellin on the outskirts of Monrovia. Apart from LAP, Dr.
Edward Kesselly's Unity Party (UP) and Gabriel Kpolleh's Liberian Unification Party (LUP), Dr. Amos
Sawyer who had earlier drafted the constitution launched his Liberia People's Party (LPP).
Harsh election laws were put in place to erease serious hurdles for party registration. The Interim
National Assembly (INA) was later set up as a body to monitor the transition to civilian rule, wich Doe,
a contestant naming himself as its president.
Sawyer soon found himself in trouble when he challenged Doe's directive that all gorernment officials,
including Ministers who had interest in politics should resign their posts. He said that the directive
must go across board to include Doe himself. This infuriated the Head of State and he was said to have
commented thus. "You mean Sawyer said I should resign? If he plays wich me, we're going to spoil
everything in the country, and we will fix them later."
Sawyer was later framed up in a coup plot with some University teachers, as well as Doe's Second Vice
Head of State, Nicholas Podier. Both survived the charge, although Podier was later to meet his waterloo
in the hands of his former superior.
"Of course, many did not believe the allegation," a source said: But it eventually led Sawyer into
detention, thereby causing serious students' unrest at the University of Liberia where he was a
professor. The students called for his immediate and unconditional release and there were major
demonstrations. Then an August Z2, 1984, Doe ordered his then Defence Minister, Gray Allison to "move the
students, or be removed." It was at this point that the campus was raided by soldiers. Many students were
whipped, wounded, shot or killed.
When Sawyer was later released, he continued wich the campaign to register LPP. The party had met all
requirements, but somehow, it was not favoured for registration - until members stepped up their
agitation. During the campaign period, arsonists suspected to be Doe's henchmen poured petrol all round
Sawyer's home and set it ablaze while he and his family were sleeping. It took the intervention of
neighbours to save their liyes and property.
LPP was later banned by the Interim National Assembly from participating in the 1985 elections on
the grounds that it had socialist tendencies despite the face that there were no such provisions in the
constitution. Baccus Mathews' UPP suffered the same fate.
Sawyer later went into exile in the US where he continued to be in strong opposition to the Doe regime.
Along with some other Liberians, he formed a movement called Action for Constitutional Democracy in
Liberia (ACDL). When the rebel incursion took place in December last year, ACDL wrote a proposal to Doe
in which they asked him to step down as president and form a broadbased interim government of national
unity. Doe refused.
Gabriel Kpolleh, leader of LUP was smart enought to outscheme Doe in his own game, although not for long.
He played to the gallery to get his party registered, for by then, many had realised that the only way to
survive the wiles of the Head of State was to sing his praises and feed his ego. Doe made sure LUP was
registered even though it did not meet the necessary financial requirement of $50,000 that was expected
to be deposited in the party's account. When LUP gained full political status, people were surprised to
see Kpolleh make a complete U-turn and become a very staunch opposition to Doe.
But he was soon to suffer for it. When the abortive coup of 1985 took place, all parties' leaders were
rounded up and detained after being taken to the Executive Mansion for interrogation. In 1988, he was
also accused of collaborating with some soldiers in a plot to overthrow the government. His party men and
councillors were all detained and later stood trial for nearly six months. They were convicted by a
court, but when Kpolleh's lawyer appealed to a higher court, the decision was handed down that the case
be retried. With his supporters, he spent more than a year in jail before Doe granted them a general
Doe was able to blackmail others into submission. Oscar Quiah, a founding member of UPP was second in
command to party leader, Bacchus Mathews. During political campaigns in 1984, he was detained for alleged
tax evasion in an attempt to disrupt his party's activities. When he was released, he immediately
declared support for Doe's NDPL so that the charges of tax evasion were immediately dropped against him.
He later played a major role in NDPL. He became the Secretary General of the party, although there was
always confidence crisis between him and the original members. After NDPL's rigged victory at the polls,
he became the Managing Director of Liberian Telecommunications Corporation.
Counsellor Twan Wreh was intimidated into taking up the seat he had won in parliament, despite his
party's (LAP) decision to the contrary. LAP expelled him and he later died while in office.
It has often been argued that Emmet Harmoh, Chairman of Special Electoral Commission (SECOM) made Master
Sergeant Doe the civilian President of Liberia. It is widely believed that he gave NDPL the upper hand
over its competitors throughout the electioneering period.
For starters, Doe's party began to campaign long before it was legal to do so. The first meeting which
was chaired by one Charles Williams was in Bassa County. Opposition parties' members protested about this
head start. Emmet Harmon did nothing. Charles Williams was later to be rewarded with being Senator of the
There are people who swore that on the night of the general elections, Harmon's car was seen driving
to the Executive Mansion - probably to discuss strategies for rigging the eleetions.
On the night of the election, soldiers were said to have stormed the Monrovia City Hall where majority of
thc ballots were being counted to harass members of political parties other than that, of Doe. When it
was discovered that NDPL was not doing well enough, vote counting was immediately suspended and Harmon
went up to ehe Executive Mansion to consult with Doe.
The votes were later counted by a 15man commission which took to weeks to complete the job. During this
time, there were newspaper reports of ballot papers being burnt an the highway from the Leeward Counties.
Someone who was on the team that counted the ballots was said to have confessed that most of the boxes
they opened showed that ballots were specially laid out in boxes and it was evident that they were not
put in by voters.
A lot of electoral malpractices were pointed out to Commissioner Harmon, bot he did nothing. When Doe was
pronounced President, he was rewarded wict the post of Ambassador-at-Large.
Dr. Edward Kesselly, the chairman of the body which reviewed Sawyer Commission's draft constitution was
also said to have facilitated Doe's entrenchment as Liberia's Number One citizen. Many blame him for
deleting parts of the constitution which would have disallowed soldiers, including Doe, from
participating in the country´s Second Republic. These recommendations wert reported to have been in the
It was widely rumoured that Doe had earlier an promised Kesselly the Vice Presidential post on his
party's ticket, and they say this in turn must have prompted him to delete major parts of the
constitution which would have prevented Doe from standing elections. But to his surprise, after the job
was done, Doe went and brought the then ambassador to Britain, Dr. Henry Moriba to be his running
Out of anger, Kesselly registered his own Unity Party and became presidential candidate. This move forced
his father, the respected General Byan Kesselly to quit the election commission. His son later became
very vocal against Doe.
Perhaps, more than anybody else, however, Kakura B. Kpoto, a multimillionaire and chairman of NDPL
masterminded Doe's victory at the polls. It is believed that he brought in some thugs from Freetown and
named them the party's Election Task Force. They went round threatening people who did not support Doe's
candidacy, and they were used liberally for rigging. Kpoto's popular campaign slogan with his thugs
Kpoto: "Who do we want?"
Kpoto: "Who do we have?" Reply: "Doe!"
Kpoto: "Who will we have?" Reply: "Doe!"
Kpoto: "Who are we going to keep?" Reply: "Doe!"
It was also disclosed that he was the brain behind the passing into law of Doe's birthday as a public
holiday in 1986.
The press in Liberia was nöt spared the rod throughout Doe's reign. They became muffled and muzzled. The
Daily Observer, an independent papere stablished in 1981 was the only Journal that was very critical of
government. In less than five years, the paper experienced closure five times. The first time it
happened, all its employees were detained. Before political activities came into full swing, there were
governmental moves to curtail its activities. Soon, the paper was closed down again in what workers
called a deliberate action to prevent it from covering the elections, and in truth, it remained
throughout the elections of 1985.
Doe had no respecet for Journalists. Colleages of Rufus Daboh, one of Liberia's veteran journalists
and the first editor of Daily Observer recalled the time he was detained at the Maximum Security Prison,
Belle Yella. He was ieterrogated and harassed, and when he was finally released Doe's remark to him was,
"God gave you long life, but you're very careless with it."
Former President of the Press Union, Lamani Warity, and the first editor of Daily Observer, Kenneth Best,
were constantly harassed, invited for questioning at the Executive Mansion and detained.
However, Liberians still flinch at the memory of what they consider the most brutal attack an the
practice of journatism by the regime - the cold blooded murder of a television journalist, Charles Gbeyon
on November 12, 1985, the day General Quiwonkpa who had been exiled for a while stormed the country and
announced on the National Radio Station that his National Patriotic Forces of Liberia had surrounded the
city of Monrovia and taken over Power.
Rumours had been rife for awhile that the former Commanding General from Nimba County was coming back
with full force to right Doe's wrongs and dump him in the dustbin of history.
When they finally heard bis voice on the radio on that fateful morning, the entire City of Monrovia and
the Countryside went wild. People were jubilating in the streets. For a few hours, Quiwonkpa's men were
in control, but the General was said to have told his men that he wanted no bloodshed. A few government
offcials were arrested and brought to the radio station. All the while, there was this announcement an
the radio that Doe was in hiding and could not escape, and that security forces guarding the Executive
Mansion should surrender.
Tactical mistakes soon sealed the illfated coup attempt. Telephone link was said to be on and Doe managed
to call his First Battalion at Camp Sheffelin to inform them that he was still alive. With that came the
courage for them to move in on the National Radio Station. They seized the place and put down the
There were reports that while Quiwonkpa's Coup was being announced, some of his tribesmen in Monrovia
began to take revenge against Doe's tribesmen - the Krahns - who had been harassing them since the Nimba
raid of 1983. They share a common border.
By about 2.30 p.m. while people were still rejoicing and jubilating over the coup, Doe suddenly came on
the radio. After playing the national anthem, he announced: "I am still your Commander in Chief. The coup
has been crushed and everything is under control."
By then, people who were still unknowingly jubilating in the streets were gunned down by Doe's soldiers
and some of his tribesmen. The tide had suddenly changed. In the area where they could find the Nimba
people, they were maltreated. Some were beaten or killed outright.
Charles Gbeyon, a television Journalist was on the field taking photographs and generally recording
the momentous event when thr coup failed. Doe's sodiers who were on a rampage in the City of Monrovia
violently seized and carried him to the Executive Mansion where Doe's henchmen supervised his torture.
Gbeyon was said to have been castrated alive in the administration's usual style. His body was mutilated
and later cut to tiny pieces.
Not only this. His reeorded films were played on video to take an inventory of Doe's enemies who had
jubilated while Quiwonkpa was having the upper hand. Soldiers combed the town to seek out all identified
faces. Those found were gunned down, and Doe himself later paraded himself around town.
In the following week, a lot of killings of Gio and Mano people reportedly took place. Most of the coup
plotters were however able to flee the country.
Unfortunately for Quiwonkpa, he was captured and killed by one of Doe's cousins, Edward Slynger who
joined the army a day before the coup. His body was mutilated - cut Into bits and pieces. His genitals
were later placed on a rifle and displayed around the city.
From this time on, tension began to develop between the Gio and Mano of Nimba County and the Krahns of
Gedah County both of which have a common border. The people of Nimba County were constantly harassed by
the powers that be. This bitterness and hatred was later to spread to many prominent Nimba citizens in
Jeffy Gbartu, one of the surviving members of the PRC from Nimba County had to escape into exile in the
United States. D. K. Wonsilea, the cochairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission, and one of
Quiwonkpa's tribesmen was killed. A prominent woman, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a notable woman was accused
of being one of the financiers of the plot. She suffered a long period of trial. Isaac Bantu, President
of the Press Union of Liberia used to work as a librarian at the Liberian Electricity Corporation (LEC).
The job was taken from him because of his Nimba roots.
Moses Duopo, Labour Minister had lost his job in government long before the Coup for the same reasons. He
was forced into exile. Duopo was believed to be part of the 1985 abortive coup. He later joined forces
with Charles Taylor in an attempt to unseat Doe in the on-going rebel activities. About two months ago,
his son called the BBC Focus an Africa and informed them that his father had been executed by Charles
Taylor. The allegation has not been confirmed.
In May this year, a local newspaper published the portrait of Moses Duopo an the front page, describing
him as a new rebel leader of Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). This caused a lot of
trouble for the Gio and Mano people in Monrovia. Doe's soldiers went an a rampage and started killing
David Kimeh, a General of the Liberian Army was unfortunate to have met with the same fate recently also
in the hands of Doe's soldiers. Reports indicate that he was suspected to have been supplying food and
other essential commodities to the rebels of Charles Taylor's NPFL and was summarily executed. When the
Daily Observer had the audacity to carry his wife's plea asking for the whereabouts of her husband, the
newspaper merely succeeded in getting its offices burnt.
Many have wondered how Doe, an ordinary Master-Sergeant who dropped out of sehool at the sixth grade
and became a Head of State by providence, was able to keep himself in power for over 10 years, despite
stiff opposition. According to commentators, he gained the upper hand among his PRC colleagues either
because he was smarter or because he was a lucky man, as he claimed to have survived 36 coup attempts,
some of them were believed to have been drummed-up, including an assassination attempt.
The PRC itself was not immune to alleged coup plots. The elimination of Weh Sven, Doe's irrst deputy was
viewed in many circles as a frame-up, but insiders claim that the rivalry between the two men was so
intense that even if there was no coup in the making by Weh Syen at the time, the grounds were ripe for
Reports of secret killings during the early days of Doe's reign filtered out of the barracks and they
were described as executions of attempted coup plotters. Because the backgrounds of the then new rulers
were not known, the names of those allegedly involved in the Coups were of no significance and not much
effort was made to find out their identities.
Nicholas Podier, Doe's second Vice Head of State was also implicated in a coup attempt. In 1984, he
managed to escape execution and after he was granted amnesty, he went into exile first in Ivory Coast,
and later in Germany. He returned in 1988, and according to information, he had officially informed Doe
of his impending arrival with some American investors to do business with. The very day they arrived, he
was arrested and killed. The government alleged at the time that he had come to invade the country.
Newbreed was informed that "many people knew it was not true. There were less than ten men in his
On coming to power in 1980, the PRC had immediately detained high-ranking military officers - both
AmericoLiberians and aborigines. Upon proper identification most of them had been released and
reassigned, some were given ambassadorial jobs. Contrary to popular belief, the 1980 coup did not merely
remove an Americo-Liberian oligarchy, it also weakened the solidarity of the natives. The indigenes were
unified against the Americo-Liberians before Doe, and among themselves, bonds of friendship existed. For
example, the architects of the 1980 coup, were Doe, a Krahn, Weh Syen, a Sapo, Thomas Quiwonkpa, a Gio,
Fallah Varney, a Ghandi, Podier, a Kru, etc. And these men were all close friends. The relationship that
existed between Doe and Quiwonkpa until they fell apart in 1984, was described as one that "water could
not pass between."
Doe was said to have then begun to consolidate his powers by systematically putting his fellow Khrans men
in sensitive military and political positions, both in and out of the army, and at the same time,
wittingly dismantling what ever advantages other tribes might have had. Not only this, he equipped his
tribesmen with sophisticated military weapons, while gradually disarming the others.
If Tolbert was corrupt, Doe was said to have been super-corrupt. He bought loyalty with money. Essential
commodities were made available at little or no costs at all to the cohorts who kept him in power. With
his unlimited powers, presidential and security votes became his private vault, which was abused
extensively. Government's unlimited patronage was extended to the few he trusted - largely his tribesmen.
He formed partnerships with some of them and reaped millions of dollars from their dubious deals.
His notable alliance with Emmanuel Shaw, his influential Financial Minister is often talked about in
Liberian circles. According to the story, Shaw in conjuction with a white South African, Bob Wolman,
formed a company with Doe being one of the majority shareholders. The company, Liberian National
Petroleum Company (LNPC) began to compete with the state-owned Liberian Petroleum Refinery Company
(LPRC), and subsequently got the monopoly for the importation of petroleum products. LPRC was then at the
mercy of LNPC because it had to buy products from LNPC in order to sell to its distributors. LNPC became
so powerful that it sometimes held the whole nation to ransome by refusing to seil to LPRC, the main
distributor, due to inflated debts that were expected to be paid in hard currency, thereby causing fuel
gasoline shortage, sometimes for an upward of two weeks.
Shaw who ran away when the going got too tough for Doe is now said to be enjoying stashed away wealth in
England. He was said to have been a tremendous influence on the President. For instance, while serving in
the Presidential Affairs Ministry in the early days of the government, he was said to have affected Doe's
style in dressing and hair style. He influenced Doe in keeping his afro-hair-cut trendy and introduced
him to smart designer suits.
Dr. George S. Boley was one of the influential Khrans men Doe surrounded himself with. He was the first
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, and was part of Doe's cabinet from the early days, having
served in two different ministries - Education and Postal Affairs.
Another Khrans man, Alvin Jones, treasurer of the Episcopal Church, Monrovia, became the Minister of
Finance in 1982, after Doe was said to have realised the tribal connection. Like Boley, his appointment
was as Minister of State Presidential Affairs, a veritable goldmine, according to insiders, for he was
the 'broker' between the President and those seeking audience with him. He was one of those holed up at
the Executive Mansion with Doe in the last days, but miraculously, he was said to have managed to escape
to the U.S.
One of those who could have helped Doe stop the Charles Taylor invasion was Col. Edward Sachor, his
Minister for Internal Affairs and a native of Quiwonkpa's Nimba County either wittingly, or through an
oversight, he failed to.
In mid-1989, a clan leader from Nimba, one of a Doe's sympathiser Chief Goyon complained to Doe that
there were strange movements of people in the country. Doe immediately set up a committee headed by
Sachor to conduct investigation into the matter. Sachor's findings described the Chiefs suspicion as
baseless and Goyon himself as a confusionist.
When the rebels led by Charles Taylor struck an December 24, 1989, Sachor was sacked. The elite of
Monrovia rejoiced silently. The fighting was some 400 miles away from Monrovia. They told each other that
even if Charles Taylor was a devil, he was a necessary one.
"When Doe is removed, we would think about how to handle Taylor," they said confidently. And when the
months dragged and "Charlie" was still not coming to town, they grew impatient and said he was "wasting
Charles Taylor was well informed about the sentiments of the Monrovia elite and he replied he had to
progress cautiously to avoid heavy loss of human lives. He even advised them to leave the country.
Human rights advocates figuratively sentenced Doe to perpetual freedom to "see how it is to rule without
violence." They said openly: "Doe would not be killed. He would be allowed to go free and live to regret
His tribesmen, the Krahns, they said, would not be victimised. Those who were qualified and held
reponsible positions in government, would not be dismissed from their jobs.
Most of the Monrovia elite believed the last days of Doe were near and they were not prepared to flee the
city before the final hour came. They did not want to "miss the last show."
The Gios and Manos, prime victims of Doe's atrocities had different ideas. For them, the days of the
Krahns were over and the Krahn tribe would only be found in the history books as a tribe that once
existed in Liberia. The Krahns, especially those in the army, were frightened. These Krahns then resolved
that before their tribe was completely wiped out, they would reduce the Gio and Mano population to an
insignificant number. The Gios and Manos were in the majority. Their population is over 200,000 while the
Krahns are under 100,000.
In November 1985, when Quiwonkpa and his rebel forces invaded Liberia, the popular support he received
came mostly from the Gios and Manos, and while the Coup was in the making, the Krahns became vulnerable.
When the coup failed, however, the jubilating Gios and Manos were considered enemies of the government
and several of them were arrested. Several of those who were arrested have not been seen by their
relatives, up to now.
The two attempted Coups by Quiwonkpa, and the subsequent reprisals suffered by the Gios and Manos at the
hands of the Krahns, led government troops to drive thousands of Gios and Manos into exile. Neighbouring
Cote d'Ivoire accommodated a large number in the border twon of Danane.
The Gios and Manos in exile began plotting to stage a comeback and it was common knowledge that young men
were being given military training. What they lacked were funds and logistic support.
Charles Taylor, an Americo-Liberian, is reported to have been plotting to overthrow Doe since 1987. His
clandestine activities in some parts of Africa and Europe had all been reported to Doe. Mr. Gabriel
Baccus Matthews, Chairman of the United People's Party confirmed in a chat with one of our contributors
in Freetown during the ECOWAS Peace Talks, that as far back as October, 1989, Doe received a
comprehensive intelligence report with photographs attached an Charles Taylor's plans to overthrow his
Matthews said that for one reason or the other, President Doe did not act an that report. Rather, Mr.
Matthews said in mid-November, Doe decided to set up a special committee to review the report and he,
Matthews, was a member. The committee could present its report after the Christmas holidays. Taylor
launched his attack an Christmas eve while Doe had resigned himselfto a joyous holiday.
A few months ago, observers of the crisis were shocked when Doe, baring his mind an the nature of the
fighting in his country declared that if the war reached Monrovia blood would flow an the steps of the
Executive Mansion but he would not be part of it. As the rebel forces drew his forces into jungle
warfare, for which his troops are not trained, it became increasingly clear that he had changed the
strategy of the fighting to draw the guerrillas into the open by encouraging them to march into Monrovia
and attack the executive mansion.
Two of his public statements an the crisis threw some light an this strategy. First, he summoned
superintendents, chiefs and elders of the country and told them their children had refused to heed his
call to get out of the bushes and stop fighting his men. He told them that as the children had refused to
lay down arms, he would now take the fight to them and he personally was going to join the fighting.
Further, if these elders wanted peace, they should go and take their cutlasses, shotguns and whatever
weapons they had and chase their rebellious children from the bushes.
He also told his country men that his only wish was to get the rebels to attack the Executive Mansion. He
reminded them of the late General Quiwonkpa's November 12, 1985 invasion, and Said just like that
invasion, this new fighting would be decided within a matter of six or eight hours. He even went further
to hint that if he should lose the battle, Charles Taylor would have nothing left of Monrovia to
The chills that went down the spines of Liberians after these pronouncements and the state of fear that
engulfed the country prompted some religious leaders to start a process of negotiation and after several
persuasive visits to Doe at the Executive Mansion, and to Taylor in rebel held jungle territory, both
leaders finally agreed to send representatives to sit and talk peace under the auspices ot the
inter-faith Mediation Committee without preconditions.
When this did not work, ECOWAS was called in, but just after the seconc round, talks broke down. The
chairman of the official Liberian Government Delegation, Senator Tambakli A. Jangab told our contributor
"We accepted a conditions put forward by ECOWAS and have supported ECOWAS peace initiatives but the NPFL
has not accepted a single condition." He added: "In an negotiation, there must be compromise but the NPFL
has remained adamant and refused to compromise."
Realising the grave consequences of battle in Monrovia, as the Front delegation departed Freetown, the
Government delegation appealed to President Doe to make the "supreme political sacrifice" and resign in
the supreme interest of the Liberian people. Instead of heeding the advice, he got angry and dissolved
the delegation, accusing them of turning into rebel sympathisers. He began to hit at civilians. It was
reported an Monday, July 30, 1990, that government troops loyal to Doe massacred over 200 persons seeking
refuge in the Lutheran Church in Sinkor, Monrovia. The dead included babies, some of thern on their
Several reasons have been advanced why Taylor would want to overthrow Doe. One, that Doe was a tyrant,
two, that he was corrupt, three, that he was no respecter of human rights and four, that there have been
unsolved and unexplained killings in the country. But events which have developed since Taylor launched
his rebellion have shown that Taylor is no 'Jesus Christ' as he himself said.
Some exiled politicians at first thought Taylor was on the right track and sought to join forces with
him. Later, however, they decided that his motives for wanting the invasion were less than altruistic.
They decided that Taylor did not have an agenda for returning the country to normalcy after a successful
overthrow of Doe. They saw him as an ambitious businessman rather than a nationalist saviour. Rumours
have been rife that the war is business as usual for Taylor and he is alleged to be shipping produce out
of the country and dealing in gold and diamonds, even as the conflict rages.
Reports from Mandingoes fleeing rebel held territories said that after several Mandingoes in Nimba were
killed by the rebels, their wives and children were held as slaves. The reports asserted that Mandingo
women and children were forced to wash diamonds in the creek holdings owned by their dead husbands, for
the rebels, and the women were forced to sleep with the fighting men at night.
The alliance of the forces of Taylor and the Gios and Manos occurred after Taylor's December 24,
incursion. Reliable sources claim Taylor did not have sufficient men or money to launch a fullscale
attack, but that he had firm promises of external funding once he could prove the seriousness of his
commitment to overthrow Doe. Taylor launched the December attack with 150 men, all trained in Libya but
Doe's forces successfully repelled the first attack and many of Taylor's men were wiped out.
After this attack it is said Taylor received funds from important AmericoLibetrian sources in Cote
d'Ivoire and was able to gain the support of the Gios and Manos.
In Monrovia, Doe fuelled the tribal conflict when he gave carte blanche citizenship to all Mandingoes in
the country. Nimba county, the home of the Gios and Manos is heavily populated with Mandingoes not only
from Liberia, but also from Guinea and Mali. The Mandingoes are predominantly muslims. There is an
age-long rift between the Mandingoes, who the Gios and Manos have refused to recognise as their equals.
The Mandingoes, on the other hand, look down an the Gios and Manos as infidels from a religious point of
Doe's decision encouraged the Mandingoes to become informants pointing out Gios and Manos who allegedly
accommodated Taylor's rebeis in December. These were lined up by government troops and shot in cold
Before this incident, some eyewitnesses claimed that just after Taylor's December attack, angry Krahn
government troops went to Nimba and bombed one of the towns, Karnplay. The government troops spared no
one who came in their sights, babies, women, children, the young or the old. Those who were lucky to
escape went to join the growing number of dissidents in Danane. One account said that after the bombing
of Karnplay, 200 children who survived the attack were gathered into a truck by "sympathetic" soldiers,
to be taken to Monrovia. On the road, soldiers at a checkpoint told those accompanying the children there
was no place for them to stay in Monrovia so they should send them back. lt is believed that the soldiers
returned the children to Karnplay and there set fire to the truck killing all 200 of them.
This incident infuriated the Gios and Manos the more thus when Taylor supplied them arms, their first
desire was to revenge the killings. They were merciless, they slaughtered any Krahn er Mandingo they
found - babies, children, women, the young and the aged.
As the National Patriotic Front gained territory, the fighting men, being mostly Gios and Manos became
more interested in slaughtering Krahns and Mandingoes than the mission of getting Doe out of the
Executive Mansion. Some of them grew so satisfied with hunting Krahns and Mandingoes that instead of
marching an Monrovia they moved in the opposite direction to other counties. Some reports said the Gio
and Mano rebels were so satisfied with killing Krahns and Mandingoes that when they captured government
troops of other tribes, the captives were either made to join them or set free.
The only man who seemed able to hold the Gio and Mano boys in check was Elmer Johnson. He was an
AmericoLiberian who served in the United States army and was the military adviser to the NPFL. Elmer was
killed when a vehicle he was travelling in was attacked. Reports in Monrovia said his death was organised
by Taylor who saw Elmer becoming more popular than himself among the fighting men.
The special force, known as "Black Scorpions" with red head bands went an the rampage after Elmer's death
and destroyed lives and looted shops. Taylor lost control of the Black Scorpions. Their next leader,
Prince Johnson, Former ADC to Quiwonkpa and also trained in Libya took control over the boys after
Elmer's death. As a Gio and former soldier in the Liberian army, he had more influence over the boys,
some of whom were barely teenagers. Prince Johnson has now emerged as the third factor in the struggle
for power in Liberia, especially since it was his group that kidnapped and murdered Samuel Doe last
By Toyin Egunjobi with Festus Eriye and Ayowole Falodun. Additional Reporting by
Hern Yaw Mallet, Freetown