Taylor's Battlefront Commander Benjamin Yeaten Flees Liberia Under Cover of Darkness

Martin C. Benson
Emmanuel Mondaye


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted October 3, 2003

Benjamin Yeaten
The battlefront commander of the Liberian Government soldiers and Director of the Special Security Service (SSS), Lt/Gen. Benjamin Yeatan has reportedly fled Liberia this week. Reports say he made his escape last Sunday evening, under the cover of darkness, to an unknown destination.
The Deputy Chief of Staff and Battlefront Commander of government forces, who directed the troops up to the recent fighting in Monrovia, escaped the country through the Roberts International Airport accompanied by three former aides to ex-president Charles Taylor.

One source claimed that the general might have escaped for fear of being arrested and prosecuted for allegedly killing two officials of government. He has been accused of masterminding the deaths of Deputy National Security Minister John Yormie and Deputy Public Works Minister Isaac Vaye, something that happened in early June, 2003.

Gen. Yeaten’s reported escape from the country has come in the wake of mounting pressure of a probe from some concerned citizens and the wives of the two slain government officials. The widows just last week demanded the bodies of their husbands and also requested the Justice Ministry to arrest and prosecute Gen. Yeaten for the death of their husbands.

On June 4, 2003, following the arrival ceremonies of the former president of Liberia from the Republic of Ghana and the subsequent arrest of the then vice president Moses Z. Blah for an alleged failed coup attempt, at about 1:45a.m., a light blue jeep marked 1249-BC, driven by a man only identified as "Banana", went to John W. Yormie’s yard, along with another man yet to be identified.
The men told Mr. Yormie that they were sent by the director of SSS, Benjamin Yeatan, upon the orders of the then president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, to come and get him over.

According to a well-placed source, Lt/Gen. Yeatan escaped the country accompanied by one Sam Gbantou(Commercial Attache of Liberian Embassy in Israel) and Miaway Borlea, the Director of Maintenance at the General Service Agency(GSA). Borlea was used by the former president Taylor to smuggle arms into the country.

Besides the deaths of the two government officials, Gen Yeatan was accused of being responsible for the gruesome murder of staunch Nimba County opposition politician, Samuel Dokie and his family.

On November 28, 1997, former Deputy Speaker of the transitional parliament, Samuel Saye Dokie, his wife Janet, his sister Serena and nephew Emmanuel Voker were arrested while en route to Sanniquellie, Nimba County, to attend a wedding. They were arrested at a security checkpoint in Gbarnga reportedly upon the orders of Gen. Yeaten.

Following their arrest, Mr. Dokie was taken to Monrovia for investigation and subsequently taken back to Gbarnga. Later their whereabouts were not known. This raised serious concern , thereby leading to a massive search. Three days later, the burnt bodies of the Dokies were found on the outskirts of the city.

In an official statement issued on the murder of the Dokies, the government said it never ordered the arrest of Mr. Dokie.

However, the Director of the SSS, Mr. Yeaten, admitted ordering Mr. Dokie’s arrest, but not his murder. Yeaten was temporarily released of his post to assist in the investigation. Two security personnel, Richard Saydee and Kennedy Fineboy, who had been named as prime suspects, were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence.

His departure is sparkling concern, as many are afraid that there could be an outburst of fighting among the apparently disgruntled GOL fighters who would be feeling abandoned

Some sources near his Congo Town residence, said Yeaten’s loyalist soldiers left on the grounds were seen tussling to carry away his remaining belongings. One of the notorious killers protecting his home, "Angola Ray" apparently frustrated over his boss’ unannounced departure refused to entertain any discussion on the matter.

Our reporter who visited the residence of Gen. Yeaten gathered that he fled the country leaving several of his fighters unpaid.

The information even prompted some of the fighters to attempt taking away one of his vehicles ( a Jeep) to pay themselves, but the police was called to thwart the subsequent selling of the jeep.
Our reporter also saw at least, 20 fighters who were assigned to the General grumbling for their pay threatening to take away anything from the residence as pay.

The situation area around Gen. Yeaten’s residence was very tense during our reporter’s visit, and as such, several ECOMIL soldiers were seen there maybe to put the situation under complete control.
Meanwhile, the unceremonious departure of Gen. Yeaten from the country is creating serious concern. Many are concerned that the issue surrounding the death of the two officials has not been resolved.

However, a late evening report monitored on D.C radio just before we went to press, quoted Defense Ministry authorities as saying Gen. Yeaten has traveled to Ghana to attend to some family matters.
© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.