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The eleventh day of the TRC Public Hearings Proceedings held on Thursday January 24, 2008 at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion. The Hearings session started with the Commissioners of the TRC being ushered into their seats followed by a welcome remarks form the Chairman of the TRC Cllr. Jerome Verdier, who then called on the Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah to invite the first Primary Witness to give her testimony.
Forty Seventh Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
Susanna G. Vaye
(First Primary Witness of day eleven)
The first Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: welcome remark and brief introduction.
Primary Witness: Before I start with my experience with I want tell thank you along with my children and to this honorable for affording me this opportunity to expressing my painful experience my family has been going with for the past years. Before I begin I have few concerns.
First I am grateful to God because all of us who come either as witness or perpetrator, it is not really easy, it takes God's grace because my family and I have not subscribe to the TRC because we fell that it is only interested in taking statement from us. Things can be speeding done if government is in it. This is one reason what I have come to the TRC.
Next I do believe that TRC is good, but I want to say public that they should think about our security because most of those who did these things to us or hurt us are still around most of them up there and still have the powers in their hands
Chairman: if you do have such security concern you can go you can hold because there are mechanism in place that you can share your information with us but if you feel free you can go ahead.
Ok! On June 4 2003 by that time I was working in Star of the Sea Clinic in West Point under the Catholic Health Service. I use to go to work soon because of my distance from the place. But this day I follow last while my husband took the children to school. While at work things were normal in Monrovia we work until 3 o?clock and a friend of mine call me and asked where I was and I told her that I was at work and she said that Monrovia is up side down and the things were not normal.
Immediately I call Isaac, my husband asked him where he was and he say he was at Bob Taylor's place in Paynesville which was under construction, I asked him if he had heard that Monrovia was not normal and he said who told that news and I told him that he should listen to the radio.
At about 3:15 I told to pick the children. One of our sons was in Cathedra and elder one in Don Bosco. He told me that the older boy said after school he was going to the prayer service and I told him to bring the other boy.
Then he said how I was going to get home and he would come for me and I told not to come because the soldier were all around, for me I could manage to come or remain with the patience at the clinic for me I am not known. Later I walked for West Point to Broad Street and the whole place was quiet some boys were just passing by making threatening remarks and I got on Broad Street. I was lucky to see a man and his wife and I asked them to drop and it was that car dropped me to Bob Taylor's place.
I saw my husband we talk and I took the pick-up and went to draw our drinking water. Not knowing that day would have been my last day seeing my husband. When I went home I waited and waited but I didn't see him and he did not come. At about 8 pm he called me and said he was with some of his colleagues at an entertainment shop at Duport Road junction enjoying themselves and jubilating because Taylor has been release from Ghana right after his indictment and I asked him if I could come and he said not necessarily he would soon be home despite my warning to him that the town was not as normal as it was, but its like he sensed that I was going to get him, so he promise to come home soon.
You know John Yormi first time coming in Monrovia he came directly to Isaac father house. This was where Yormi was for very long time to the extend Yormi's family and our family share common ties. My children used to even call him uncle Yor. So when Isaac and Yormi left the entertainment where they were at the Duport Road and were coming home, Yormi said his wife had cook him soup and he and Isaac should go and have some that's how they came down to Yormi's house to drink some soup but according to Isaac the soup did not have enough pepper then Isaac told Yormi that but lets go to my house S V always prepare me pepper sauce so that how they came to our house and I gave Yormi some the pepper sauce.and give to Yormi and he carried it. At about ten minutes Isaac called that...
While carrying Yormi to his house at about 10 minutes when they left, Isaac called me that the president had just come and he has sent Benjamin Yeatin accompanied by one "Banana" for Yormi. It was Yormi's wife Cynthia who called Yormi and told him "Banana" was at the house awaiting him. So when they got to Yormi's house, Yormi asked Isaac to accompany him to the call because at the time he Yormi's hand was swollen and he could not drive his own of car. At about 10 pm Isaac called my me that he was accompanying Yormi and he asked if I could come along this time but by then it was late and I was already in my night gown, so I told them to go and that how they left to go see President.
By 12 a.m he called me and asked why I did not called him since he left and I told him that I was sleepy and he told me that they had reached to the president place some guys have come and had collected Yormi and carry him upstairs then he said I am waiting for Yormi. After few minutes he called again and said that the person who carried Yormi, one "50" was bringing down Yormi and as he was talking to me his voice he started bringing his voice down and he and in less than 5 minutes he said he started saying I don't understand how these guys are behaving and I don't know what they are doing to me and gradually his voice started going down and he said I will not call you again until I reach home just like that, the was the last time I talked to my husband, Isaac Vaye.....[silent crying....]
The next morning the Catholic Schools were giving their exams and both our children were going for exams they but SV, because that's how they can call me, where is daddy, I said you know when he starts something he likes to see it finish before he sits, he had complete a piece of work at Bob Taylor's place, then the smallest responded that but daddy knows that we are taking exams and he can't and carry us.
While I was planning to go and ask Cynthia if she knows where Isaac and Yormi had not come home. Then I saw one boy from Cynthia's house that came and asked me for Yormi.
Immediately I began searching to every where I know I may meet him. I call his friend Joe Yeman and Yeman said you don't think Isaac car broke down I said but his telephone too not break down. One Thursday Cynthia and I went to Joe Tuah's house and asked him about our husband and he said oh did they arrest Isaac Vaye, Yormi and Moses Blage for the same thing, that from there self I got to know that the VP was arrested. S o Joe Tuah told us that it was Benjamin Yeatin who could better answer our question but Yeatin was on the front so we should go and come back 3pm. We visited all stations in this country none of them could accepted only Radio Veritas, I will forever remain grateful to Radio Veritas. By 3 we went back to Joe Tuah's house but he was still in the same position with serious attention but this time Cynthia was able to clearly see her husband phone with Joe. What I do know was that Isaac was not the political type he only work at public work. I spent 16 years with him and he did put into politics one day.
I went everywhere I had could reach except that I did not reach behind Bong County because the road was close. But those days we only had two men in this country Charles Taylor and Benjamin Yeatin. So we tried to go and see "50" and first time they he was sleeping and another time they say was out on the front. But before then we went to see Jewel Howard Taylor the first lady at the time and sent her special assistant to us to say that - that was security matter and she had nothing to do with it and later just drove out of the yard. Afterwards 50 people told us that he said we should come back the next day by 9 am. So this morning we went to 50 house and he came I did not know him, and he said he did not want to see plenty people. He up and started doing his things and later he selected few people - Charles Marthel, Martha Sayer and me and Cynthia. We went in and introduced ourselves and when I told him he asked what thing your husband had at the time of his disappearance and he asked Cynthia too then he acted like he was calling the police director Paul Mubal and later Daniel Chea saying one Isaac Vaye and John Yormi are reported missing, do you know where they were do all you can find them. And he said to me don't worry later today I will carry your husbands to you. And he started telling that you know why, I say no Isaac Vaye is one the best engineers we have in this county he can not get missing like that.
Those people are really wicked not knowing they arrested Isaac and they took him strict away by then it was one week since the disappearance when I was talking with him. But I was thinking how to go home self. In fact they say there is a container in the mansion that if the president wants to kill you self he will just put you there you will die slowly and you won't believe it I sent somebody there I sent somebody there in that container but my husband could not be found there.
I have gone all over NSA, Police Station and all over. People were scare to talk to me. Then I decided to go and just tell the children I told them and some of them believe it and some didn't and when I told the old man who was living with us he said I was playing witch.
Then on time June 16-17 Taylor called all some prominent Nimba citizens and when we gather there he selecting people who he would allow ask question. And I told Martha Saye to ask for my husband, and when she asked now that you have told us about the VP what's about John Yormi and Isaac Vaye and Taylor chew that answer in his throat. You people know how Taylor answer question, he said you know that the revolution and some people can feel hurt and you know we will take care of that. But Moses Blaze wife knew that her husband was coming out that day, she was dress in white and her husband was in white when I was him I jump in front and asked him for Isaac he said don't worry that me the rope was on my foot since I am out the others will be out soon and that how we left so we went to Moses Blaze and people was rejoicing but I could not, so and Joe Suah was there and I asked Joe Tuah fro my husband, he told me don't worry they are bring him. Not knowing that they took those men to Nimba and later some said to Buchanan.
Harris Carngbe was the inter-mediator for us when we went to see Taylor. Taylor said he wants to us but I say no then they call Cynthia. My people those people are wicked and he look at her for long time and said the president will see you at 10 and you Susanna at 11. And they gave us 4 jeeps to carry us home by 2 o clock.
After all of these walking I saw Prince Myer, Harrison Carngbe and Martha Saye and about 10 person but not less 7,so they came and told me that the president send them to tell me that Isaac and Yormi were dead. So my people this how my husband was killed.
The next morning I went to Radio Veritas and I was asked what I will do, I say nothing but I say this case is in god court and he is the judge. And even this case goes beyond TRC god will give me justice. My fellow citizen and commissioners this is how Isaac and Yormi were killed.
Harrison Carngbe came and told me that the some one told him that one car SSS 18 brought some men from Monrovia and they were Nimba citizen and he went told Benjamin Yeatin and 50 told him that it was security and you have nothing to do with it.
We went to JPC and the then JPC director Francis Johnson Morris advised me that I should do a formal communication to the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice which did and our letter was addressed to Koboa Johnson Justice minister and Koboa Johnson said he did not receive formal complain. Later TC Goue came up to apologize, saying that the minister has so many things to do so he might have forgotten
My husband , the man who know about burial, who can tell I don't whether he was buried, or the left on the road, in bush or in the rains, ehn ?faint crying....'
I know TRC is not a court but these people must be brought to justice. That's what I think...
Questions from the Commissioners:
Chairman: we are not wearing the shoes you are wearing, the pains you are going through and the disappearance of your husband and we are sorry, we admire your courage and now that the Liberian people has gotten a truth insight of what happened and that's how many things went on here with impunity and what happen, who did and put the right were it belongs and so at this time the commissioners will at least few questions for further details.
Commissioner Syllah: Have you been able to Joe Tuah since then?
Primary Witness: Yes sometime like last year I saw in Ecobank, he spoke to me and I told him don't you know you are suppose to speak to me when I kept talking and people started looking at us he left the bank. I have seen him two times now, one time I saw him in his car.
Is he still in the security apparatus?
Primary Witness: I don't know.
Commissioner Kullah: Since your husband and his friend were arrested along with Moses Blaze, did he ever come to you to sympathize with you?
Primary Witness: Yes he came, and I would ask him and he will say I was in jail I didn't see anything and I don't know anything. In fact when I was at Radio Veritas one time someone came and told me that 50 was planning to carry out massacre because I was talking to much so that how I left for firestone for three weeks. Moses Blaze said myself they just miss me but that Joe Tuah self help me. When Alfred Debleh Suah gave his testimony here the last time, because I can called papay, so I say oh papay so you did not tell me all these things and you know about it.
What's about your children what their understanding of what happened?
Primary Witness: They young one was in 3rd grand and the girl is in college and when they going to school they will go to their father photo on the war and say we are going to school now we know you are around her we are not seeing but you are seeing us we will do what you want us to do and when they came from school they would say daddy we are back. Then one time I told them that is this an idol they say no and discourage that act so gradually we are feeling slowly leaving us. One time I asked the other one I say Isaac if some come to you and said that your dad is in another country, he said ok daddy alive.
What do you think you can tell the Liberia women and of Nimba county?
Primary Witness: What I can tell the Liberian women is don't be afraid that your husband will yell at you should tie waist and say no to something that your instinct holds you back on and say you na going any where. If you see your husband doing something that is not comfortable tell him resign and I will sell cassava, if you stand your ground they will agree with you they can only act stubborn.
Sheikh: Three names ranged over your testimony Charles Taylor, Benjamin Yeatin, and Joe Tuah, do you know the where about this Tuah fellow?
Primary Witness: I believe he is still in Monrovia, he is working but I don't know where, and another one is Taty Wanti who has his shop opposite Ecobank.
Have any of them come to you to tell sorry for what happen to your husband?
Primary Witness: No the last time I talk to Joe Tuah in the Ecobank, and out of embarrassment the left he taught I was not going to remember him.
Commissioner Dolopei: Do you have any idea as to why Mosses was arrested?
Primary Witness: No.
And your husband was arrested the same time?
Primary Witness: Yes, but I did not even know that it was an arrest until the next day I heard that Moses was arrested. But I have not asked Moses why he was arrested.
Commissioner Coleman: When was the time you got to know of your husband death?
Primary Witness: Wed, June 3 2003 but I don't know the clothes he wore because I was in the bath room when left the with children.
What was time when you were informed officially?
Primary Witness: I was informed on the 14 and 15 of July that the group came to inform that my husband was killed.
You mentioned your hope you have to the issue been resolve, what do you mean the closure the of entire package?
Primary Witness: They did not sent for my husband but Yormi and it was Yormi who ask Vaye to carry him. When I talk about closure, I know TRC is not a court, but we need to know actually, because Benjamin Yeatin took them and he need to tell us exactly what happen, if he said yes Suzana I killed your husband then I least I will know why.
Commissioner Washington: Who was the "Banana" you mention, when you were searching did you heard any one talk about the banana person?
Primary Witness: No because "banana" left for Ghana but Banana is in this country.
Do you know if he has any other name?
Primary Witness: Yes but I can get his name now But I don't him know his real name but Cynthia know his name.
Did you know how Joe Tuah got Yormi's phone?
Primary Witness: No we were not brave to ask him but it was just bravery that got in his yard asking for pur husbands and Moses blage jeep was in the joe tuah yard
When your husband left, what happen to their vehicle?
Primary Witness: We did not see the pick up but I heard that it was in Nimba and one special forces was using it.
Did you ever have any encounter with Yeatin?
Primary Witness: No except one time one little girl live right by me and she resembles my daughter she was the one who was attacked in the market and beaten and they told her that her mother was spoiling their chief name.
Commissioner Stewart: At which point Moses assure that you were going to swallow GB together?
Primary Witness: The very point where I jump in front of him in the mansion and asked for Isaac that was when he promised that Isaac would come home that evening.
Was it a cover up?
Primary Witness: It is hard to talk, because what he said was like when the prime suspect was arrested and released then what was about other that were arrested along side their release was not a question, this is just a scenario. But since then he kept telling me I don't know, like Joe Tuah he knew because he asked if Isaac was arrested for the same reason that Moses was arrested. And when Suah Debleh left from here the last time my friends started calling me about what he said here at the TRC.
Are saying that the TRC is throwing some light on your situation?
Primary Witness: Yeas, everything happen for the best I am happy that Suah Debleh came here before. I am happy these things are coming up and more will continue to come up. I hope they will fill up, as you haul rope - rope haul something.
Has there been an official response for that letter to the Justice Ministry?
Primary Witness: Yes, they reply us, Koboea Johnson has his signature on it promising that they will take of it.
What was the title of your husband at the Ministry of Public Works?
Primary Witness: Deputy Minister of Technical Service at the ministry of public work.
Have you since contacted the justice ministry to reopen the case of your husband since he was a government official?
Primary Witness: Yes I have had that plan lately; I even plan to go to Solicitor General with this case.
Do you remember any other those in the entourage of Benjamin Yeatin who was always with him?
Primary Witness: Yes, Gola ray, a mulatto boy said they will leak every information leading to Vaye's death if Taylor refused to pay them.
Commissioner Bull: Was Koboa Johnson was the justice minister of the republic of Liberia?
Primary Witness: Yeas in fact he was insulting to me saying somebody going around saying that she Isaac Vaye's wife,
Would give us a copy of that communication?
Primary Witness: Yes.
You said they should prosecuted
Primary Witness: Yes
Chairman: thank you very much madam witness for taking you time to throwing lights on those things that we might not have know if you have not come, I did not understand when you said he was doing his thing.
Primary Witness: I mean the pretense, and they say when he come from the front he can't speak to anybody he will go strict up and he was just making his self busy going up and down.
Commissioner Dolopei: What was the response of the justice ministry?
They said they will look into it; I will give the copy of their response to you.
Chairman: the entire nation shares your pains as a result of this testimony, and rest assures that your experience has contributed to our work enormously; at end of our work we will give the government a binding recommendation. We will do justice to the mandate given to us be the Liberian people. Now if you have any last word this is the time and the floor is all yours...
Primary Witness: I thank those who encouraged to come to the TRC, at the beginning I brought few of the children I think I can show them to you, I must thank god that I have been afforded the opportunity to come here today. I would have been like many who would have love to be her like Jennet Dokie, Noah Flomo and many others who have love this opportunity, it not only for my benefit but for those who are able to do what I am doing now. I want to encourage every Liberian I can tell any body the TRC now for them to come and see.
Chairman: Thank you very much you may leave....
Forty Eighth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
(Second Primary Witness of day eleven)
The second Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Questions from the Commissioners:
Chairman: Good morning madam witness, you are welcome to the TRC. The Commissioners and the people of Liberia are all here to hear you story, we want you to tell us what you know and how it happened.
Primary Witness: thank you sir
What is your name again?
Primary Witness: I am Sarah Quaye.
You can go ahead.
Primary Witness: Yes that was in 1990 in West Point we were in the house and we heard noise outside and when we ran outside I saw one fighter they called Arm Bush and I saw human heart in a plate with him. When we came outside he killed my husband and my son and called me he carry me and lay me right in front the catholic church and put some thing in my mouth, that - that thing made today - today I can't see!
And again Charles Julu went in Maryland and killed my uncle then he said that Doe man kill my uncle.
Question from the Commissioners:
Chairman: Where this thing happened?
Primary Witness: That West Point
Primary Witness: 1990
What thing they force to drink?
Primary Witness: They say that liquor. Since then I can't see now for 14 years now.
What group did this to you?
Primary Witness: That Charles Taylor group.
Who was the commander there?
Primary Witness: They called him Arm Bush and the other name I heard was Paul.
Commissioner Bull: Since then have you gone to the doctor or any medical group for them help you with your eye?
Primary Witness: No, for me get it to eat self it hard, how I will go.
Do you have any recommendation?
Primary Witness: I want the Liberian people to help and especially the president; since we voted for her she has done anything for us, every time the people will be teasing us that we say we up then we eating farina.
Are you with the group of 77?
Primary Witness: No I am with one of my friend I can sleep in her piacer [sitting room].
Commissioner Washington: Are Arm Bush and Paul the same people who kill your husband and son?
Primary Witness: Yes.
Primary Witness: Yes.
You said they threw you down and put something in your mouth?
Primary Witness: Yes
You know how it tasted?
Primary Witness: That was liquor and it was so much of it about one beer bottle of it.
Did it happen in your yard?
Primary Witness: Yes in West Point.
Commissioner Dolopei: Why were husband and son killed?
Primary Witness: They say my son was a Mandingo boy and because he walking with my husband that how they killed him too.
Commissioner Kulah: You were the only one who they gave this liquor to?
No one Kru woman but she died and one Fanti man too.
How long it took before you got blind?
Primary Witness: When they gave me the thing, the next morning my head started hurting and when I came outside I could not see again.
Commissioner Konneh: What is the name of your husband?
And your son?
Primary Witness: Bawee Bility.
Where is the father of that Bility?
Primary Witness: He was in Nimba a truck driver but I don't know whether he is alive because of the war.
Which group killed your father?
Primary Witness: LPC
You know why they killed your father?
Primary Witness: No that one small boy who I can born cut my father head off
Commissioner Syllah: How old is your daughter?
Primary Witness: She is 17yrs
Did Charles Julu kill any one in front you?
Primary Witness: Yes my uncle Col. Appleton - he was SATU Commander. His Greebo name is Gboneh.
Who told you that Julu?
Primary Witness: The man that was bodyguard that his body guard them told us.
Forty Ninth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
Annie J. Smallwood
(Third Primary Witness of day eleven)
The third Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: thank you for coming to the TRC, and we want to inform you you're your story is very important to the Liberian people and will be useful to our work, as such we want you to say what you know and it should be the truth. The Commissioner are all here and the Liberian people are listening to you.
Primary Witness: thank you sir:
What is your name again?
Primary Witness: I am Annie J. Smallwood.
You can go on with your story.
Primary Witness: First of all I tell God thanks for keeping to see this far. It was 1990 we went to Bomi Hill, in 1994 ULIMO J and ULIMO K divide but at time my husband I were there, some ULIMO J soldiers came and said that they saw ULIMO K men were ready with their guns so ULIMO J was preparing to go back to Bomi Hills for ammunition, so when entered in the town Arm bush Village in Bomi Hill, the town people was preparing food for them, so on my way going to help with food, by then they had carry one mad man with Wilson Johnson to cure, but when I going na the mad man just run to little boy who was RTO he and boy fought over the gun but he over power the pekin that how he took the gun and started shooting so every body running away and I ran in the bath room and I was in the bathroom when he shot my legs, but he was still looking for when he did not see me he ran in the bush away. The moon was shining the mad man said he want to kill and he ran in the bush. Then he came and the man who gave the arm to the RTO took the arm from the mad man. When they saw me they say oh that the papay wife, they say your call the papay when the papay came he too he went off. So they carry me to the one village to a country doctor, the woman who suppose to the work requested for all kind of thing and we didn't have it and that how I was getting rotten, I was taking to the Swedish Relief and we met one Dr. Vanday, and Dr. Vanday called Dr. Kpoto when he too came he said they should amputate me and that's how I got amputated. Then I came to live West Point.
Second war came when I was in West Point, I went to my family people house. And me and my children we all were in one room. It is not easy but some of us we already in side. But I really want for my children to learn. So I am asking the government, ECOWAS and the TRC to help because it not easy I want to children to learn. Yeah!
Questions from the Commissioners:
Chairman: thank you very much madam we are very proud of you for coming in your condition to tell us your story. The Commissioner will now ask you small questions to get few clarifications.
Commissioner Syllah: Was the mad man part of the fighting group?
Primary Witness: Yes but they carry him for treatment.
Can you remember some of them name?
Primary Witness: No
How did the mad man get the gun?
Primary Witness: He ran for the arm and took it for the RTO who was a little boy.
How many children did the man left with you?
Primary Witness: 3 - Two boys and one girl.
Commissioner Konneh: what was the name and age of the baby that died?
Primary Witness: 2 months old and her name was Tenneh.
Did you say your house got destroy?
Primary Witness: Yes.
Commissioner Dolopei: What was the name of your husband?
Primary Witness: His name was Manna Anderson
The house that got burned was it yours?
Primary Witness: No, I was renting.
Commissioner Coleman: where did this incident take place?
Primary Witness: It happened in Bomi hill to Arm bush village
What was the situation was it a battle?
Primary Witness: No
You said you heard them talking about going for arms were where they going for the arms?
Primary Witness: In the city itself, Tubmanbourg
Commissioner Bull: Your recommendations are noted, your voice represents so many others who are not able to come and perhaps this will encourage others to come to the TRC. Thank you very much.
Chairman: I think Commissioner Bull has spoken for us and you may give your last statement if you have any...
Primary Witness: Yes, I give god the glory and ask the TRC and the government to come to my aid, the tension that I am under is not easy, even if I na learned, I want my children to learn my living condition is bad.
Chairman: Ok thank you, you can reassured that we have heard you and all across the country are hearing you this moment and every thing that you have said will surely contributed to our work thank you very much you may leave.
Fiftieth Primary Witnesses of the TRC Public Hearings
Morris A Padmore
(Forth Primary Witness of day eleven)
The forth Primary Witness of the day was called to the stand and he was accompanied by the psychosocial officer and the protections officer of the TRC. The Primary Witness was then sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer.
Chairman: Mr. Witness, you are welcome to the TRC Public Hearings. This is the forum for all the people to come and say what happened to them so that we can all come together and settle our differences and be able to be as the country we were before. It is in this faith the Commissioners and people of Liberia are listening at this moment to her you story. We want to welcome you once more.
Primary Witness: thank you sir.
What is your name again?
Primary Witness: I am Morris A. Padmore
Are you employed?
Primary Witness: No
You may go on with your story.
Primary Witness: I got recruited in NFFL 1990 at the age of 15 and was taken to the Konola Base and was taken to General Tanue who was the Commandant of the Base and I was told if you escape from the base and you are found you will be killed, I went through the training and graduated and I was trained as a radio operator and was assigned at the RIA as a radio operator. From Robert field we are the on who use to communicate to the plane if they are bringing supply for Papay by plane.
I was then changed to Gbarnga and from there I was transferred to Sierra Leone and then to Via Hone as radio operator. But by then I wanted to be on the front line to experience for myself and I went along with Mekanzon and during my first appearance at Bo waterside I was hit in the stomach and was brought to Via Hone for treatment and I came down to my grand mother at Kakata and she told me to leave the fighting, that it was not good. She said we should concentrate on the family and I told her I will continue.
At that time ECOMOG trop were all over the NPFL control area and we heard that the ECOMOG were going to attack and all the troop from Sierra Leone were withdrawn and were kept at Kakata. I knew them as my friends and I joined them. It was time for the Octopus operation and Taylor called General Mosquito to lunch the operation and I was part of the group that lunched the attack. We first took over Barnesville early morning hours and there is a house across the road going down a big white upstairs building with white people and General Mosquito and the late Achieboy, we all went there and started to question them and that they were supplying information and General Christopher Vomoe known as Mosquito ordered Town Dable the death squad at the time and we rape and killed them and even inserted sticks in them and we advanced in Monrovia.
The ECOMOG then came with a counter with planes and thanks and we had to retreat to Kakata which was a safety zone for us. ULOMO was attacking for the other side and we only had Kakata and Bong mines and ULIMO came and took Kakata from us and we had to retreat and in the process we were on our own and there was no order we could do anything. There was actually no way things were against us at the time and Buchanan fell to them. Some of my colleagues surrender themselves and I could not because I had done a lot.
I retreated through firestone bush and we were in the bush and we move to Gbarnga and Taylor called the Late Gabion Gaye and he said we need to move back and called for a cease fire and he give us a lot of praises which was always given to us when going to fight. We came back to German Camp which was the Marine Base and we were briefed by the commander and he told us that the operation we had is not easy, we can not allow enemy to take our home for ECOMOG were considered invaders. And we were told that fro the mission, there was no retreating for if you do you will die.
ECOMOG was strong at the time and so we needed a real strategic to attack them and we given mines that were brought by Taylor to plant them and we were taught how to plant them and we did that for one week. We then went to Dusa Hospital which we thought will have many people so that we can attack from there. That motto of the mission we were going for was maximum death and destruction in minimum time and the slogan was to save our land and anyone behind the line was an enemy. When we got to the hospital there was no body there and we had another order from Gen Gaye and we went to Division 11, at the old camp because there is old and new camp, and we saw sign of life there that night. We were told that nobody should escape. We had to do it for we were looking at each other. We did our best that night and we were able to circle the whole place and every body was killed. Gen Gaye was also part of it and took part in the killing, he was an active man. There was a girl who acted rude on the General, and he stab her and took off her heart. We left that area and we were killing as we went on. Nobody could see us and when we attack the next morning were on our base and the land mines were blasting the thanks of the ECOMOG and they started retreating from those areas and we started deploying. We divided the plantation; there was only one thing on our mind which was to fight. We had grounds and there were the ULIMO and other forces and we were not afraid of any of them. We took drugs and alcohol ands we were brave.
It came a time that we were relaxed and ECOMOG could not attack for they did not know our strategic and when Achiboy die I took over the Headquarter division 31. The late General Jack the Rebel was the commander of another Battalion. There was no food at that time and we had to attack ECOMOG to get food. So while on patrol our boys came across two children and took them to Div 11 and they interview them and they said they were from Cater Camp and that they had a lot of food there. They sent us information and they told us that there was food and we had to go there. We had to organize group to go there and for the troops to be gathered, and I made available 45 men and they move there and came back the next morning with civilians carrying food and said the operation was fine and there was a lot of killing there. These people here are the only survival for they could carry food and load. Some were killed on the road for they could not carry the loads. We reported the civilian to General Gaye and later they were transported to Gbarnga and the 2 kids were with Jack and they were with him at the time he was with Jungle James daughter. They were on the base with us.
Gen Gaye then connive against Taylor and came to fight against him and was arrested by the same marine for we were die-hard men with Taylor and he always praise us. Gen Gaye told his men to move the land mines and plan a new attack and he was arrested by us and we handed him over to Taylor and he could not believe this and he was questioned and could not talk so he was given food to eat and he die from the food. Jack the rebel was appointed as the Chief of Operation and Melvin Sobani was the Commander of the Marine and upon his return to base and I was promoted to Brigadier general. When I was a General we were a division and we had a commandant I was given a red barred and was given a uniform and I could not believe it being as General and we were running our own government, We then extended to compound 1 and 2.
There was a conference to be taken place in Ghana and Sobina and Jack were called to Gbarnga and when they came they called all the generals to meeting and they said the chief was going and we should move close to Monrovia and carry out damage so that our impact can be felt while he is in Ghana. We started mobilizing troops and they brought drugs and alcohol and we prepared for the mission. We moved to division 11 with all the Generals of the Marines consider as Special Forces.
I first suggested that we should start from the Kakata high way and when they are concentrating there then we can move to town and all the generals accepted it and said I was general vision. We attacked 15 gate and number 7 and we took one 50 Kalaba. After that Alex was then mandated to head to Monrovia and I was told to move with him but I said I was tired, I had to stay and he accepted and when the troop left coming towards Monrovia we were moving closer to them. They were heading for Du Port road. We were moving in the bush and we knew all the routes in that bush in the firestone area and anybody who sees us is dead. Nobody knew our secret. Du Port road was attacked that night, but it was terrifying but we had to do it. We had a little boy about 14, and he use to nock peoples door and when you open it we kill everybody in the house. There was ECOMOG nearby and some AFL burning cool and we capture him alive and killed him. We were operating in time and before the break of dun we were on our way back to base with all our looted items.
I did not know that it will be like that, but a lot of people died a lot and Monrovia was upside down and this operation was successful. We went to Gbarnga and told them the mission was accomplished and our buss was satisfied. Our unit was a fence and you could not talk to any one outside of the group because if you are seen, you will be killed immediately. As I talk they are listening and they know am revealing secrets not to be revealed. I am not afraid of them for if they meet me on the street they will confront me so I am not afraid for I know I am confessing and if I die I will die a free person for I am saying what I did and what I saw. We were a fearful group that anybody behind the line will know what we are and what we use to do. The disarmament process came and we were disarmed.
After the disarmament we were in Kakata and when Firestone came to operate that was before the disarmament and we had to withdraw before they can start operation. A team was set up to carry on that, as such Adulfus Dolo and I work to draw the group down and after some time I got tired and went to Kakata. When there was nothing to do and I came to Monrovia and I have been here since then. The election came and Taylor won the election and we were happy and we were collected and trained and we took over the mansion and during the conflict in Lofa a team was set up to investigate the incidence. I and Tamba Konteh were the one who carry troops there and we were there until LURD started attacking and we formed the ATU for we were in the SSU at the time. This unit was having weight and the President was scare of us so he could not continue them. As a result we were not in favor of the new group and he called for a security forum and he came down and told us that his son was the commander and that we go for a new training and if you can't you should leave the country. I felt bad for I use to love my unit and I left back for the first group of training and the second group was going on base when one Sam Bokari brought 600 man to be trained and it was the time I was arrested and they said the chief wants to see you at the time Momo Geeba was the commander. He told me I refuse to go on the base; he said I wanted to join the rebels that were coming so I was placed in jail and was forced to train. After graduation I was sent on the front line where you can't carry your family and you had to fight all the time and I started getting afraid and I told Momo Geebah that I was really sick due to the drugs and shooting. He refuse to give me permission until LURD took over from our position and we left and I explained to another chief and he brought me to town. When Geeba saw me he was not satisfied and he arrested me and took me to the mansion and when he left me I left the country. I took a pickup and went to Grand Gedeh, when I got to Grand Gedeh my troop I commanded was there and I felt happy to go there but when I reach there was an order to arrest me and they arrested me and brought to Monrovia. I was beaten a lot and placed in the under ground cells for three days. After some times a fried of mine came bye and asked of me. In that cells I was placed, you don't survive there for it was for people to be killed. My man asked of me and said they should put me out and they said no, at the time it was the Sierra Leonean and they said no. he then give them drugs and they put me our with somebody to guide me and we went on the beach. I left them there while they were getting high. I jump over the fence and went to my house. Luckily I had never took any of my friends to my house and I was there with my family and they help me to leave the country on feb14 2002 for Ghana by the help of a friend and he did not know I was escaping, the next morning I cross and I went to Danane. In that area there was Taylor agents who could arrest anyone and hid myself until I left and went to Abidjan. There too were agents as such I took a Taxi to Ghana although I knew nobody there and went to Nigeria and back to Ghana and was repatriated in 2005 to Liberia.
Since I came here, I have been considered an enemy for they said I joined another faction and that I had fought for other factions and they have not given me that support. I have been going to some of them in higher position for job and they refuse to give me job for they said I did not end the job. And I started going to church and later heard of the TRC and decide to come to explain the truth. If they even want to harm me I don't have time for then for I know they are listening to me and they are planning what to do but I know I am saying the truth and do not have time for them. That is what I know and have to say so far.
Questions from the Commissioners:
Chairman: Thank you very much Mr. Witness by taking up the time to explain your experience and we hope all Liberians could follow suite so that the healing process will go on. We will now ask you some questions.
You mention firestone plantation was it use as a base and if so is there anytime where the management collaborated with the NPFL?
Primary Witness: We use the plantation for our bases and we use it to recruit about 1500 able body men at division 31. We go into the villages and we collected men and trained them and if you fail the training you can't go back. But with the collaboration of firestone, I don't think so. When it comes to collaboration with the Firestone, I can only remember the time we were pulling the base back they use to give us small money through Adolphus Dolo for the Marines, and we use to distribute it to them, that was the only time I had interaction with them.
Was the money given to the Marines or the Northstars?
Primary Witness: The money was given to the Marines, but most of the Northstars were Marines.
Were the securities at the firestone with arms?
Primary Witness: No there were no arms but we had arms in a different location that ECOMOG did not know about, at the Harbell hill.
Was firestone carrying on operation at the time, buying and selling of rubber?
Primary Witness: Yes they were carrying on typing and selling and I was the one talking to the boys to withdraw and I will give them money and food and they will withdraw. At the time I was the negotiation of Firestone and I use to give the boys cash and rice and when the boys leave the place the Firestone will deploy their tapers.
You said life on the ATU base was hard can you explain
Primary Witness: Life on that base was difficult for a day was like a month and everybody was like nobody. The base was controlled by Gambian guy called Campari, he was the Camp Commandant and there were whit trainers who they said were white trainers whom they introduced to us as South Africans, and if you can't make it you will die. It was the hardest training I ever had. They will nicked you if you try to escape and put a fat person non you while you were on the tile road and two person will pull you on the tile while somebody is on you back to make sure you feel the pain. After that they will put salt on you. They will then carry you in the mountain and you will be there until you get better. Before getting in the base, you will be initiated for a whole night and from there some people don't survive. If you even have a sore on you foot nobody will hear you and many people died there.
Some people went there and didn't make the training and died?
Primary Witness: Several people.
You said you were at the RIA at one point in time and you were responsible for receiving the old man supply?
Primary Witness: Then I was the radio operator. If air Bokina is coming they will call to the operator that there is a supply that night and you have to plan for the flight delivery and it is done while the light of the plane are off and when they land the operation starts, there were professional pilots operation those planes.
What kind of supply?
Primary Witness: Arms and other things.
Which other flights
Primary Witness: Only Air Burkina I knew was regular.
Do you know some of the high ranking officials when you were in Gbarnga?
Primary Witness: there were many ranking officials when it comes to the military field which I knew, but to the political side I never knew much for I was a soldier. Charles Taylor, Enoch Dogolea, Mr. Richardson of the NPRAG government, Jessy Gbainy of the FDA and a was a special forces of the NPFL from Libya, Dr. Massaquoi Saah Gbolei, General Momo Geebah, General Jackson Mammeh a Gambian and Senior aid to Taylor and the late Cashus Jacobs. I was not much acquainted with the political leaders.
During the operation Octopus did you at any time heard of Catholic Nuns being mission?
Primary Witness: Yes I heard that story, but I was in Kakata already and I had come from Barnesville, at the time I looted a volkswagan and was enjoying myself with it and the information came on the BBC that some Catholics and that is how I understand that those people that were the people they were referring to, but I actually didn't know they were Nuns. There was a big white house in Barnesville and that was where we killed them.
Commissioner Bull: Thank you for your information and testimony before the TRC and the audience. You called a lot of names, are you prepared to explain those before them?
Primary Witness: absolutely I am willing.
What recommendation do you have?
Primary Witness: For what I said those names that I called if I see them today I can say it to their fasces and they know me well.
Commissioner Stewart: Thank you very much for coming to the TRC, you mentioned about land mines that were planted, do you have any idea where they came from?
Primary Witness: They were supplied by Taylor, he brought them to Gbarnga and our commander went for them and he showed him how we should do them. The one they brought was a round one with cap and in the cap there is a fuse. You have to pout the fuse in the cap and put it in the mine tight dig a hole equal to the height of the mine and put it in the hole for the pin to show, for if any weight get on the pain and move it will blast. There was another type with cable with electric fuse with two wires and you have to move the fuse in it and put the electric fuse hall the wire and plant it and draw the wire to another area and use a touch light battery if there is any object then you use a battery and once the spark goes on the mine will definitely blast. As we attack ECOMOG, we expect them to come after us with thanks and heavy weapons, so we had men with power saws who will be felling trees to block the road and when they are coming they will not suspect the mines but the trees as such they will bypass the trees and come across the mines.
Are they anti personal mines or anti tank mines?
Primary Witness: I don't know what you mean.
To clarify, anti personal mines are those that can explode if human being walk on them and the anti tank is for the vehicle to go over it before it can explode.
Primary Witness: The one I am talking about can explode if vehicle or human being goes over it. I witness the first mine blasting from a truck and the second from one of our own soldier stepping on the mine which we did not see.
The area in which you planted those mines, did you remove all of them or some of them are still there?
Primary Witness: the mines were removed when firestone came we remove all of them. Before removing those mines they had to pay money for we were many who planted them and everybody knew where they planted their mine. Those who know where they are were paid to remove them.
Will you believe that some of those mines are still there?
Primary Witness: No I don't believe it for if they were there Firestone would have.
Does the word T5 mean something to you?
Primary Witness: It is a radio communication code which mead die, message for someone being killed. If they say John Brown was T5 which mean he got killed.
Were you instructed on how to take prisoners in your trainer?
Primary Witness: We were not trained for that as Marines we don't take prisoners for they instructed us not to do so. One few prisoners survived.
What kind of orders you were given in Sierra Leone and Guinea. Can you describe the scope of the operations in Guinea?
Primary Witness: As a marine General, for guinea the instruction was we should organize a group to go to Massanta and destroy the place to weaken the LURD to withdraw from Voinjama and we were 250 men organized alone with General Mark Guoan who carry on the operation. We went there and attack and move to Gaigaidu and spent almost a month there. So this was a cross border attack.
Did you have some foreign nationals like Guineas fighting alone with you?
Primary Witness: No, when we were going to Masata, we were told that we were going to meet men on the ground to direct us but there was no one, only when we were going to capture Massata base, there was a certain Guinean man brought and they said he was the one who was going to be the rebel leader in Guinea and he told us that if we reach Massata he will give us certain troop to base, but when we got to Massata, there was no resistance as such it was risky to be there, and there was no troop as promise to connect with us as such we had to come back. There was a Guinean man with us whom they said was relate to Sekou Toure and I met him once at the Taylor farm in Bong County in Gbarbga, he is a tall man but he did not talk to us.
Does the name Robert Zomanigi mean anything to you?
Primary Witness: I don't know the Robert but the Zumanigi; we learned he was the one to take the rebels in Guinea.
Do you have any idea where Zumanigi is?
Primary Witness: No I don't know where he is but when we went to base in Gagadu he use to come there, but he was not directly linked with him, even the Sankoh man we had no respect for him.
Who did you report to in Gbarnga?
Primary Witness: We reported directly to Taylor.
Were there other people why you were reporting?
Primary Witness: There are people who were always around him when you were reporting, like General Jackson and Momo Geebah.
Can you reflect some people who used to be around when you are reporting?
Primary Witness: Military wise we had people like Momo Geeba, General Jackson, Peter Paye, and some female like General Marie General Betty who was the daughter of Isaac Musa.
Who was General Octopus?
Primary Witness: General Octopus was the code name we use for the operation. General John T Richardson was the one using the code. It was the code he used to lead the operation in Monrovia.
Who was General Ray?
Primary Witness: The only Rayhead I know is the one who was a logging company man and not a general.
Commissioner Washington: you stated the motto of the Marines was maximum dearth and destruction at minimum time can you explain that to me
Primary Witness: If you have five minutes in this compound you should use it to excite it as fast as possible if people are to attack the pavilion you should move there right away and make use of the smallest time you have to you disposal to cause a lot of damage (audience bust in laughter for fear of attack form the example being used) to execute big thing.
So even if the big things mean killing innocent civilians you carry on?
Primary Witness: You can kill anybody and destroy anything.
Who is the founder of the Marines?
Primary Witness: It was founded by Charles Taylor and place under General Nixon Gaye.
Can you name any other members of the Marines that you did not name here?
Primary Witness: The commander of the Marines at that time was General Gaye, he was deputies by A. T. T. Batsman and Melvin Sorbana was our Director of staff those were the three main hierarchies at the time. We had battalion commanders and the first battalion commander was Jonny R. Dolo the second battalion commander was General Peter Duo the third battalion commander was Jack the Reble (George Guinna Jr.) forth battalion commander was Rufus T. Fasty the fifth battalion commander was General Lukas W. Zulu who died during the April 6 operation at mamba point, and later on we created the six battalion which was commanded by Mark Gwan and all of them has their deputies. The first battalion was deputies by one Samboy the second by one Chuckie the third by the late Takpo Tweh the forth by one Geba Kollie who is presently in Kakata. That is how the command was looking and as we grew, the commanders were promoted to generals and the others down the lined were promoted.
You mentioned one Melvin Sobanin what was some of his roles?
Primary Witness: He was not a front line man, he use to always be at the headquarters to organize documents and I think it was one tome he was forced to go on the front. He used to plan operation and when we go to staff meeting he planned the operations and make sure that every thing was in order.
Does that mean he was planning g things like Du Port road, Cater Camp and the likes?
Primary Witness: Yes, during the Du Port road operation he was then Chief of staff.
What was the role of Chucky Taylor?
Primary Witness: His father brought him he new nothing about arm and we use to carry him and when we bring prisoner and he wanted to kill them and when we bring prisoner he wanted us to called him and that was his first time killing and he was ruff and always in jail at the time Saa Gbolee who is now in the house was the MP commander in Gbarnga. He now had the opportunity of carrying arms, in this light and he is the one who open Gbatala base.
Is the Sam Bokari you mentioned the Sierra Leonean Mosquito?
Primary Witness: Yes.
Would you know which men he brought and for what reason was he bringing those men?
Primary Witness: At the time it was a fight between he and Musa Sasay who was his deputy in Sierra Leone and Taylor told him since you are fighting yourself and there is no understanding then you should come back to Liberia. He brought his entire families and the troop he was leading and carry them on the base about 600 of them.
While do you thing they came to Liberia to train?
Primary Witness: They came to Liberia to help the Taylor security. They help a lot during the LURD war they use to bring reinforcement when we wanted.
From news we heard the Sam Bokarie was killed do you know where his family is?
Primary Witness: I don't know.
Do you know whether John T Richardson was part in actual sense in planning Octopus or fighting it?
Primary Witness: Those guys were there to for the in house planning, people like Coco Dennis they were the big guys at the time.
Do you know who the instruction came from for the octopus?
Primary Witness: The instruction came directly to Christopher Vamo, the only Brigadier General at the time. He headed the operation.
Where is the Liberian mosquito now?
Primary Witness: Yes I was told he is around.
Have you seen him?
Primary Witness: Yes during Jude Bryant time he was the chief of security at the LPRC.
You have been good and given even promotions, when you did these operations and killings, after these were done, how did you feel
Primary Witness: At that time I felt we had accomplished and we were moving. You see as a young guy it was like we are playing a game and we were winning and the drugs make you not to think about it. Some times when you ware clear then you think on it.
What will it be if you had a recommendation to the TRC, for peace or success of the TRC?
Primary Witness: What I will recommend is that the TRC needs to do more for some of my colleagues don't want to come, but if you can use people like me, we can go and bring them. Some of then might come if they are secure, so those that are confessing should be used in bringing them, other people who do not want to came can come if we talk to them. There are individuals been called, but it is a collective venture as such you have to provide protection, as such the two fears are the TRC arresting you at the TRC and the fear from your former group. If I get some men now from the marines, they will explain what I am telling you now.
Commissioner Coleman: did you grow up in a married home?
Primary Witness: When I grew up as a child I did not see my father until 1988, I grew up with my grand mother in Kakata and she use to sell fish and from school I use to pass in the market. I have poor background.
How many children from your family?
Primary Witness: We are two one boy and one girl
Is your grand mother around?
Primary Witness: Yes
When were you recruited?
Primary Witness: In 1990 at age of 15.
How did they recruit you?
Primary Witness: At the time it was announce that ECOMOG was coming to occupy our land and people were voluntarily recruiting and I didn't go but as I was walking with my little girl around 14 and the told her to come and she said no and they took their guns and advance it and they told me to come and they took her from me and they said I am not even going back to my house and they put me in a car and carry me to Konola and I was reported to Tarnue who was the Commandant of the base.
Your conversion to Christianity, how did it happen?
Primary Witness: My grand mother was a Muslim and I was a Muslim then and where I was there were all Christian and my people were living in fear because they were killing all of them, the Fullah Via, and Mandingos.
How many persons were killed in all of the three massacres that you guys executed?
Primary Witness: I can't say because they were carried out in the night. But the Carter Camp about 600 and division 11 about 100 and the Du Port road I can not tell.
Was it the octopus that al most made you guys to fall?
Primary Witness: Yes, it was very difficult at the time.
What was the strength of each battalion?
Primary Witness: The figures were not exact; some had 300, and some 200 some 259 and they use to grow as the fighting went on.
You mentioned about the time the ECOMOG was working along you to get rid of ULIMO which other group was there?
Primary Witness: There was the black barred and I attack them at division 11 and they all had black barred.
Do you know who they were associated with?
Primary Witness: We heard it was the group that Amos Sawyer trained from a foreign country.
Why do you think General Gaye turned against Taylor?
Primary Witness: He was the man doing the hardest work for Taylor and he was not been respected by the president. He was wounded and went for treatment in Ivory Coast and when he came one of Taylor body guys took his car and he called us together and said we were not been respected for the job we were doing and he could not be open to us and he left and went to Ivory Coast and the plane he was on to Monrovia there was woman close to Taylor who called him and informed him about General Gaye being on the plane. He called his base and they said he was not there and Taylor ordered his arrest when he landed and that was how he was arrested and taken to Gbarnga where he was given poisonous food to eat which killed him.
Why did you bring all these to the TRC, what is your expectoration?
Primary Witness: The first expectoration is that I will be free and have a free mind when I was in Ghana, I use to thing about it and it use to play on my mind and I wanted to say it and when I heard about the TRC I
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