The Grand Gedeh County Council of Elders and the citizens of the County, individually and collectively, in this public manner, Commend, belatedly, and Extend to the nation’s President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, sincere greetings, wishes of good health and prosperity, now, and the years to come, for her wisdom in showing the Honorable, Morris M. Dukuly, the door, so to speak, for the second time – first, as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and second, now, as Minister of State for Internal Affairs, both in her administration of Government.
This s action, fellow citizens, is not an indication of happiness of or satisfaction for misfortune of loss (of employment and income) of a fellow compatriot, but expression of gratitude, appreciation, recognition and offer of inspiration for more determination, the political will, decisive action, fairness, reason, truth, patriotism and commitment to the rule of law, moral rectitude and posterity.
The Critical Issues Grand Gedeh County, or the Citizens resident therein, have been disappointed/disenchanted with the herein-described acts of the Honorable Morris Dukuly as Minister of Internal Affairsbeginning with October, 2013 and continued to May, 2014. Although we have complained, but the good Book says that “there is time for everything”. So, in her wisdom, with all things considered, the time and context, finally, have come to pass, such that the President was pleased to take the decisive action against the Minister of Internal Affairs. For, the proverbial busks stop at her desk as the commander-in-chief of government and President of Liberia.
Firstly, our disappointment with the Minister Dukuly was manifested by the October 18, 2013 Conference of the Joint Council of Chiefs & Elders held in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, sponsored by the Republics of Liberia and La Cote d’ Ivoire. This conference was concerned with Cross-Border violence between the two nations, involving alleged former combatants of Liberia’s civil war and those described as “soldiers of fortune” or hired-outs to the highest bidder irrespective of political idealology. Honorable Morris Dukuly, Minister of Internal Affairs, was Liberia’s leading official representative of the two-nation convocation.
After listening to official, program activities by official managers and rapporteurs, Mr. Bai Gbala, Senior member of the Grand Gedeh County Council of Elders, a non-offical, citizens organization who attended the conference as an observer, met with the chiefs and elders of the three districts – Tchien, Konobo and Gbarzon – separately. The Chiefs & Elders told Mr. Gbala that they were not consulted about the program contents of the conference, but simply told was to be done. Some of the delegates held official appointments both as chiefs and elders, but did not qualify as elders because of age and/or experience.
With this information, Mr. Gbala approached Honorable Dukuly as to whether or not President Sirleaf was briefed and aware that the chiefs & elders of the border areas of our country with La Cote d’Ivoire – Nimba, Grand Gedeh and River Gee – were not consulted about this important conference that is or was concerned with national security.
Minister Dukuly’s response was that this question could or would introduce “technicalities” in the program, with no direct, precise answer. Back in Monrovia, Minister Dukuly invited Mr. Bai Gbala to a meeting with him, Minister Dukuly, at the Royal Hotel. With candor and, apparent, sincerity, Honorable Dukuly outlined what he (Hon. Dukuly) termed as the prevailing, negative perceptions representing views of some leaders and members of our society regarding and against the Krahn people; that is, that Krahn are trouble-makers; thus the recent, cross-border violence conference was held in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. Mr. Gbala’s response, although angered, was swift, civil, to the point and thankful.
In a letter to Honorable Dukuly, dated November 18, 2013, Mr. Gbala wrote: “Friend and Brother, it takes ‘guts’ to admit, let alone express such conditions in our society, particularly one, such as you, in leadership position. All along, we have known that we have been and are being subjected to such false, vicious, hateful and discriminatory perceptions and practices in one subtle form or another”.
“It is said that perception, in the political domain, is stronger than reality. However, throughout human history, reason and truth or facts based on validated evidence had been, always, superior to and, inevitably, triumphed over falsity – vicious, Ethnic/tribal Bigotry. Therefore, the People of Grand Gedeh County will respond to and engage these perceptions and practices vigorously, peacefully, reasonably and openly, with truth, cordiality, civility, unity, respect, understanding, reconciliation (where and whenever necessary) and peaceful co-existence”.
“Towards this objective, the Grand County Council of Elders, representing the County’s social-cultural, Traditional Society and its moral rectitude within the prevailing Modern, Social System deeply grounded on facts and evidence, pledges cooperation with you and the Ministry of Internal Affairs with dedication to dispel rumors based on ‘you say, they say, I say’ and build a just, truthful society for all Liberians”.
Secondly, at a well-attended, National Reconciliation meeting on May 20, 2014, under the banner of Liberia Peace Initiative hosted by the-then Peace Ambassador, now Senator George Weah, introduced the occasion and said, “make no mistake, this is no easy task, this will not be a quick task . . . what we are able to do by coming together will change trajectory of Liberia towards a unified and prosperous country . . . The perception of many Liberians has been, with unfounded and false accusations that it was the citizens of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties who planned and “orchestrated the civil war”.
Making remarks at this reconciliation gathering which included several, prominent citizens from Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties, among others, was the Honorable Morris Dukuly, Minister of Internal Affairs, R.L., said “I told them (some citizens of Grand Gedeh who complained of the on-going prosecution and unlimited detention of Grand Gedeh citizens on charges of mercenarism)once you are known by town members of being a chicken rogue in a community, you will always be accused whenever a chicken gets missing . . .”
This public declaration, by the Minister of Internal Affairs of the nation, says, in fact, that “Grand Gedeans are mercenaries” and explains, upon reflection, the basis for the fanfare of the event of the Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders held in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County in October, 2013, graced by the presence of the Heads of State of the two nations, was designed, apparently, to showcase and intimidate Grand Gedeans as mercenaries and trouble-makers.
The conclusion follows, reasonably, from Minister Dukuly’s declaration that “Grand Gedeans are mercenaries”, based, also apparently, on the fact that 18 out of the County population of 126,000 plus have been charged (not, even, convicted) of being mercenaries, and out of the 18, 5 have been acquitted. Given these statistics, the Honorable Minister’s conclusion is not only a logical fallacy, but also that the Minister of Internal Affairs, R. L. is consumed by ethnic/tribal bigotry. What else?
Thus, in a letter to President Ellen Johnson-Sieleaf dated May 26, 2014, the Grand Gedeh County Council of Elders held that they “take serious exceptions to public statement made by the Honorable Morris M. Dukuly, that “Grand Gedeans are mercenaries”, or “soldiers of fortune” and “trouble-makers”.
“Meanwhile, in the light of this vicious, false, discrimination and prejudice, the citizens of Grand Gedeh County reserve the right to withhold participation in any, national undertaking in which Honorable Dukuly plays a leading role or relevant participant as Minister of Internal Affairs” Boley: Apology is not enough Finally, young Dweh Boley of Putu Chiefdom, Grand Gedeh County, who is not yet an elder and was not present at the meeting of the County Council of Elders/County Legislative Caucus with the President on the issue of Minister Dukuly, expressed, succinctly, the feelings and desire/demand of all Grand Gedeans in the manner following:
“Despite the (Dukluy apology and the President’s condemnation of the Dukuly public declaration) apology, some prominent residents of the county insist that the president should go a step further and dismiss Dukuly from his position. Internal Affairs Minister Morris M. Dukuly’s statement referring to Grand Gedeans as ‘chicken rogues’ is inflammatory, mean spirited and conflict-ridden. Therefore, the Minister must be fired immediately to give the peace and reconciliation processes a chance. Grand Gedeans do not need this kind of demagoguery. Minister Dukuly has proven that he lacks the requisite credentials and responsibility to handle internal security matters and relate to superintendents, commissioners and the chiefs of Grand Gedeh County in a fair and objective way. As a result, we do not accept the apology. This brother has to be removed.”
“Minister Dukuly’s statement is pure hypocrisy considering how close he was to the late President Samuel Doe. Morris served the Doe Government in several capacities, including Advisor and Minister of Post and Telecommunication; and was a close ally to the point where President Doe sponsored his wedding and provided his personal limousine for him and his bride to use. It is sycophants like Mr. Dukuly who seek to gain political favor at the expense of peace and security of the country by pitching one group of people against the other. This is exactly the kind of behavior which plunged this country into a civil war. What did the likes of Dukuly do? He fled into Nigeria and used his proximity to President Doe to receive special favors of the Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida who lodged him and sent his children to private school while Liberia was on fire”.
Again, we commend the President for dismissal of Honorable Morris M. Dukuly, because he earned it. In conclusion, we urge us, Liberians, to move forward, recall and remind the Dukulys that it was some of the alleged “chicken rogues, trouble-makers andmercenaries” who forced Charles Taylor and his insurgents to yield to the resolution of our political differences, peacefully, on the conference table rather than their desired clash of arms on the battlefield. This approach brought Mr. Charles Taylor to political power through “democratic elections”, but with public policy of “Jungle Justice”. Accordingly, it was, again, some of the same alleged “chicken rogues, trouble-makers and mercenaries” who drove President Taylor and his Jungle Justice into exile; the rest is history.
Indeed, most importantly, it was the sacrificial bravery, nationalism and patriotism of some of the “chicken rogues, trouble-makers and mercenaries” who stood “tall” to the murderous onslaught of Mr. Taylor, his band of “freedom killers” and tragic nightmare of the civil war, and successfully drove them from our nation. Without them, Mr. Charles Taylor would still be here, ECOMOG and the Blue Hats notwithstanding, and the “fragile, relative peace, security, law & order that we enjoy and celebrate today would not have been possible, and Honorable Dukuly would still be in Nigeria upon the strength of political connections of a prominent Grand Gedean, including the known “million-dollar rogues” & fat-cats living in the luxury of thievery from the state.
Trouble-Makers & Mercenaries