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Tolbert’s Top Security Officers Stood by as He was Assassinated

Written on:December 9, 2008
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TRC Press Release, Monrovia

Former Deputy Minister of National Security, Wilfred Clarke said he and other top security officers stood outside the Executive Mansion as non-commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia assassinated President William R. Tolbert.

Mr. Clarke said that at 12:00 AM on April 12, 1980 he received a telephone call from President Tolbert that he was under attack before he called then National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Patrick Minikon.

He said that he and Minikon met in Congo Town before they drove to the Executive Mansion grounds where they remained as the coup unfolded.

But Clarke said that a radio communication between he and a police informant who was inside the Executive Mansion providing updates of the coup fizzled off, apparently when his (the officer) battery went off leading him to the conclusion that the President had been killed.

He was testifying Monday at the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) Public Hearings at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.

Clarke who later became Director of Police in the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) military junta government explained that they stood at a security booth at the entrance of the mansion until the coup succeeded.

During and after the coup, he explained, he, Mr. Minikon and AFL Major William Jerbo engaged in counter insurgency operations to subvert the coup, however adding, that their operations did not succeed.

Mr. Clarke said that on the day of the coup, the director of the Special Security Service (SSS), Colonel Edward P. Massaquoi failed to showed up for work.

The veteran security expert said the coup had tribal and international flavor.

“Certain underlying factors that were not satisfactory were simmering in our country.”

He said before the coup, security forces were investigating nearly six commission officers of the AFL for planning to subvert the government. Mr. Clarke said that the soldiers under investigation at the National Security Agency (NSA) ranked from major to colonel.

On April 12, 1980 a military coup was staged by a group of noncommissioned army officers led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. They killed President William R. Tolbert, Jr., who had been president for nine years, in the mansion. Constituting themselves the People’s Redemption Council, Doe and his associates seized control of the government and brought an end to Africa’s first republic.

Under the theme: “Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors,” the ongoing hearings are addressing the root causes of the conflict, including its military and political dimensions.

The hearings are focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005. The TRC was established to “promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation,” and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.

Signed: _________________________

Mambu James Kpargoi, Jr.
Media & Information Officer

4 Comments add one

  1. ESHETU. says:

    13.07.2012

    It is long time since those brutal days passed,NEVER TO BE HAPPENED AGAIN. To day Africa is in the new era towards giving rise for Democracy ,rule of Law as well as transparency &accountability which
    all are the fertile grounds for peace and stability. With This opportunity Liberians have to develop their country and put in place a foundation to fever the new generation of tomorrow’s hope and end dispute amongst nation.

  2. John Togba Wright says:

    Hello Mr. Kpargoi,
    First of all, I want to express many thanks and appreciation to the TRC for a good job well done. I am a Liberian, living in the United States of America.I just read some of the statement, of the deputy minister of national security in the then Tolbert government, Mr. Wilfred Clark.

    However, Mr. Clark appearing before the TRC spoke that international flavor is connected to the 1980 coud. But you did not disclose or make it open, to your reading audience.

    Therefore, I will high appreciate if you could disclose or revail to your reading audience of Mr. Clarks statement of the international flavor of the 1880 coud that brought about the change in government, and the consequence killing or assasination of the late president William Richard Tolbert.Bye for now,and I hope to rear from you soon.

    Sincerely Yours
    John Togba Wright

  3. Did Wilfred Clarke explain the international flavor of the 1980 Coup D’Etat? If this is to be fully understood, all must be said. Let TRC call him back to elaborate on the international flavor of the coup in which President Tolbert was assassinated. If he has already done so, let the details be published for Liberians to know.

  4. Did Wilfred Clarke explain the international flavor of the 1980 Coup D’Etat? If this is to be fully understood, all must be said. Let TRC call him back to elaborate on the international flavor of the coup in which President Tolbert was assinated. If he has already done so, let the details be published for Liberians to know.

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