Broad Day Looting Foiled At Defense Ministry
Posted October 13, 2003
A dramatic event unfolded last Saturday morning at the Ministry of National Defense on Benson Street, when soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) assigned at the building stopped Deputy Minister Austin Clarke from taking away what he called his "personal belongings".
The AFL soldiers said the deputy Defense Minister for Operations, along with a group of men, "stormed the Ministry with the sole intent of looting everything that his hands could lay on, including even carpet on the floor".
Speaking to this paper, a guard at the Ministry of National Defense, WO II S. Odasseh Clinton said, "Mr. Clarke came this morning and began taking government properties that he claimed were bought from his personal funds. But, when we realized that the chairs, desks and other items had "GSA Inspection", we found it prudent to immediately stop him from taking them away".
Explaining further, WO II Clinton said, "the Liberian government pays us to guard and protect the Ministry of National Defense, so we will not sit down here and allow anyone to come and carry things at their will. No matter who you are, we will do our job!"
He alleged that Minister Clarke hit him on his neck and immediately got into his BMW van saying, "you indiscipline soldier, you will learn a lesson that you will never forget about, I’m going for reinforcement".
Another aggrieved soldier who was on guard at the Ministry, only said "enough is enough, Minister Daniel Chea and his friends suffered us for good six years at this Ministry, we have not taken pay for 28 months. Now that they are on their way out, they want to loot our ministry, we will not allow it!"
The soldiers on guard at the Defense Ministry reiterated that they have resolved not to allow anybody to carry away things from the ministry.
Saturday’s situation at the Defense Ministry was so tension-packed that the Minister of National Security, Philip B. Kamah came in to intervene in a bid to restore some degree of calm.
Minister Kamah, a retired Major General in the AFL, was heard telling the soldiers to remain calm as nobody is going to have their own way at the Ministry.
Meanwhile, the soldiers have called upon the NPP-led government not to nominate Mr. Daniel Chea as Minister of Defense in the in-coming transitional government, as anything short of this will not receive their cooperation.