By Kadiatu Musa-Frantz
The best way to prevent criminals from becoming politicians is to disallow anyone with a criminal record or past from standing for election. However, in Liberia the story is different. This is why former Charles Taylor’s accomplices in ‘political and economic crimes’ are all running for high-level political offices in Liberia. Of course, it makes Liberia a joke to people around the world, and certainly my husband, Dr. Frantz, who is a western medical doctor thinks Liberians are a confused people to support accessories in Taylor’s economic loot, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It is important to understand that Benoni Urey was Taylor’s economic exploitation partner while Charles Walker Brumskine legally represented and advised Charles Taylor on everything, including the “Status of Forces Agreement” that undermined the West African Peacekeeping Force’s (ECOMOG) defense and military capacity when Taylor’s NPFL rebels launched its deadly “Octopus” operations in Monrovia that killed several Liberian women and children as well as five American Catholic nuns and my dad, Oldman Musa, a petit trader from Lofa County who was then in Monrovia.
On the other hand, Mills Jones and Brumskine share something in common: their biological children are married and so they are in contact and are also communicating perfectly well on their plot to take over Liberia and exploit its resources. They are playing a game of cards with Liberians. Of course, the game is on and Liberians don't get it!
The unfortunate side is that Liberia’s beauty has faded away since the invasion of the Charles Taylor’s NPFL’s rebel war in 1989. Taylor has taken responsibility for the war and has since paid the price for the past decade as a prisoner in European jails––from The Hague’s prison to a UK’s prison cell. The unfairness in this whole Taylor’s international trial and imprisonment is that many of his accomplices are on the loose, enjoying influence, wealth and assets garnered during the aftermath of the death and destruction their principal unleashed on Liberians and Sierra Leoneans. Taylor’s imprisonment rendered partial justice to the victims of the Sierra Leone’s deadly wars for which he is imprisoned, but it leaves a bigger aspect of the fairness that those victims, particularly those alive, would have preferred: cessation and distribution of Taylor’s wealth and assets.
In Liberia, Taylor’s protégés and war-time associates are not only seeking political power, they are using stolen assets and the wealth Taylor illegally obtained from his invasion of Liberia and Sierra Leone. That wealth and assets are now controlled by several of Taylor’s accomplices, notably businessman Benoni Urey, a Liberian presidential candidate, and Simeon Freeman, another businessman and presidential candidate.
Putting Taylor in prison in the UK solves one problem, but not exactly what the surviving victims of his carnage most need. Besides, considering Taylor’s age, his good behavior, his conversion to Judaism as well as his physical fragility it would be nice for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider better options that would ease the stress and suffering of his surviving victims rather than just keeping the culprit in prison. Mr. Taylor is willing to have his assets and wealth distributed to most of the surviving victims because all things considered, his stooges and protégés are praying that he (Taylor) dies in prison so that they can forever usurp his wealth and assets. If Taylor is released or put under House arrest, Urey, Emmanuel Shaw, Freeman and others will have to account for his money and if they don’t they know their boss’s capacity to force them to do so. In prison, Taylor has no power and influence to do anything to make these economic criminals account. It is time the ICC goes after Taylor’s wealth and the best way to start is to get his money managers and former senior accomplices like Benoni Urey to account.
The assets and wealth that Mr. Urey and others manage and for which they are considered the richest people in Liberia are stolen wealth and illegal assets from the sale of mineral resources from Liberia and Sierra Leone. In addition, Mr. Taylor kept the royalties that the U.S.-based Liberia Ship Registry paid to Liberia between 1997 - 2003 in his personal business’ account, and his business partner, current presidential candidate, Benoni Urey, who also was then the maritime commissioner, is the only person with such business information and access.
It is indeed shocking and sad that Liberian youth, many of them unemployed and very hungry, would fill the Antoinette Tubman’s stadium to see an economic looter launch a political party and presidential campaign. This can only happen because of the failed policies and widespread corruption of the ruling Unity Party’s government. All of Charles Taylor’s former accomplices compromised their ethical values and must therefore not be given state power. Liberians must watch out for power-hungry people from Taylor’s backyard who exaggerate their values and are only loyal to themselves.
About the author: Kadiatu Musa-Frantz is a young Liberian businesswoman from Lofa County, Liberia. She lives in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg with her husband Dr. Frantz and their son, Mus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: Mills Jones' son married to Charles Brumskine's daughter, not Urey's son that is married to Brumskine's daughter.