Liberia’s State House and Drugs

Published on 26th November 2013

News that the head of Liberian presidential motorcade, Perry Dolo was caught red-handed ferrying drugs is good news. Dolo is alleged to have used the 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.”

Does it mean that the Liberian State House has no supervision over Escort 1? How many times has Dolo been doing this? How many Dolos does Africa have? How could Dolo confidently be involved in such a crime without backing or the knowledge of those above him?

Sirleaf’s government is not new to scandals and controversy. Before Dolo’s scandal, there was the scandal involving 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 two of the sons were appointed by the president herself.

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 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."

According to The 2012 U.S. State Department report on Liberia, the country lacks 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.

It is difficult for the president to distance herself with Escort 1 scandal. Now that it is an open secret that presidential vehicle has been smuggling drugs into Liberia, 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? There are questions than answers.

By Nkwazi Mhango
A Canada based Tanzanian and author of Saa Ya Ukombozi.

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