By Frank Sainworla, Jr.
It is true that pent up emotions and wild speculations must not be allowed to prejudice investigations into the death of long-time politician and one time close confidante-turned stern critic of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mr. Harry Greaves, Jr. But circumstantial evidence shows his was indeed not a natural death, thus raising eyebrows.
Indeed, a fact that his driver had said he dropped his boss off at the RLJ hotel in Monrovia’s Paynesville suburb by Friday afternoon (January 29, 2016) only for his naked body to be discovered with wounds miles away on the beach behind the Foreign Ministry on Capitol Hill on Sunday prompts suspicion. Not only that, accounts have it that his clothes, lap top and mobile phone were discovered on the hotel beach on the Robertsfield highway–the last place he was said to have shown up additionally raises more questions than answers.
Therefore the circumstances have some of the hallmarks of homicide. Could it be murder by armed robbers or a political assassination? Only an independent inquest backed by a comprehensive autopsy would debunk the widely held belief that he might have been murdered. By whom and for what are left to be answered. Who was behind a political assassination if this is one? Who actually wanted to see the back of Greaves? Who gave their blessings to the planning and organizing of such an operation? Since he was thought to have his phone with him between Friday and the time he gave up the ghost, what sort of messages/conversations he had in the last few minutes of his life? What about CCTV footage at the hotel and contacts with the cell phone company/companies to trace the calls log?
President Sirleaf realized the sensitivity of the episode when she said on her return from the AU summit in Addis Ababa a day after Greaves’ body was discovered, that she would want US/Britain’s lead into the probe of his death. And the Liberian leader was quick to say that her government did not have enemies, only critics. Such an inquest will go a long way in getting to the bottom of how Harry Greaves actually met his fate.
What happened from Friday, January 29-Sunday January 31, 2016, when the lifeless body of this protege-turned sharp critic was found close to the presidential office? Only an independent forensic inquest can break the parallel Greaves’ tragic end has with other tragic ends of political figures in Liberia’s past history. By promptly making the disclaimer that her regime only has critics and not enemies, President Sirleaf may have definitely had a flashback of the Samuel Saye Dokie’s episode.
Back in the late 1990s, Dokie who was one time a close political allie but later turned staunch critic of former President Charles Taylor was discovered dead with his wife in their burnt vehicle between Bong and Nimba Counties, something he denied knowledge of. Dokie was as close to Taylor as Greaves was to Sirleaf. So close was Taylor and Dokie that they were both original organizers of the disbanded National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). But their friendship broke and Dokie became a fierce critic of Taylor after their forces entered Monrovia. Like that pair, Greaves and Sirleaf were staunch allies from the days of opposition against the late Master Sergeant-turned President Samuel Doe to President Sirleaf’s coming into power in 2005 and beyond, when he became her government’s first Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC).
However, their political friendship broke a few years later and Greaves had become one of her most outspoken critics, at one point accusing her of condoning massive corruption. He had not only persistently taken hits at Africa’s first elected female President but her favorite son, Robert Sirleaf who he claimed was being allowed by Ellen to milk the now bankrupt National Oil Company (NOCAL), which Rob headed for a few years during this regime. He claimed millions of US dollars had been pillaged from NOCAL, only for its coffers to be empty months later. “Foolishness, a complete foolishness” that the oil company is spending millions of dollars of “our money every year,” the late politician told the local media some time ago.
If an independent inquest into Harry Greaves’ death establishes that it was a political assassination, it would have rippling implications for the Country’s democracy and it would be counter-productive to national political stability, especially in the run up to the 2017 presidential and general elections. There would be a floodgate of apprehensions expressed by government critics and opposition politicians, especially just months before the UN peacekeeping force (UNMIL) is due to complete its drawdown in June this year. Alarms of real and imaginary threats will no doubt be the order of the day.
This is every reason why a conclusive investigations of circumstances surrounding Greaves’ death cannot be overemphasized. And the Liberian leader’s disclaimer that her government has no enemies to eliminate should be reassuring to opposition politicians/critics, at least until a full inquest is completed. Memories of Greaves Since learning of the discovery of the body of Harry Greaves last Sunday, this writer has been reflecting on the numerous one-one-one interviews and interactions I’ve had with him in the past, especially in the period leading up to the 2005 polls and after Sirleaf’s victory.
As host of the then most popular “Topical Issues” talk show on Radio Veritas, I remember the passion which he carried about how Ma Ellen was the best person to lift Liberians out of poverty. Well educated and very eloquent, Harry was a typical politician who, before their 2005 election victory, would literally spend whole day at Radio Veritas former Mamba Point station preaching about how fuel prices would be far lower than the Taylor period and energy would be cheap and transparency and accountability would thrive. Usually dressed in his short pants and sporting his sandals, Harry would share soft drinks and eat banana and peanut with us in the newsroom, well beyond the end of our live show in studio.
My younger reporters were so excited that this high profile politician is so down to earth but I threw in a bit of counsel, telling them that Greaves is a typical politician. Fast track many months down the road, as Managing Director of the LPRC, we just found it impossible to get copy of the once famous Nigerian oil deal from our politician friend who used to share banana and peanut with us at our Mamba Point station. And the rest is history.
Everyone (both at home and abroad) is looking up to Liberian authorities to swiftly initiate an independent probe to unravel circumstances leading to the death of the confidante-turned stern critic. Harry, may your soul and the souls of other departed rest in perfect peace, as “ro live is to die.”
This was the theme of a sermon preached at a funeral of a family friend I attended many years ago by a charismatic Christian cleric while growing up as a young grade school student. In explaining what the theme meant, the preacher said that that every day we live, we get one day closer to death.
pic; the late Samuel Dokie