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General News of Sunday, 17 June 2001


Liberian Officials Scramble Over Homes in Ghana

With Liberia crumbling in the face of UN sanctions and a new rebel war, President Charles Taylor and his officials have embarked upon buying homes in the sub region, particularly Accra, Ghana. Blessed with wealth from Sierra Leone’s diamonds and the disappearing forest, and living with uncertainty, Taylor and his team are investing in Ghana, the home of over 30,000 Liberian refugees languishing in refugee camps while their leaders are purchasing fabulous homes around them. “There is an open system of making money in this country”, Taylor defended himself recently.

President Taylor, who spent time in Ghanaian prison for prior to launching his rebellion, now has two luxurious and well-furnished houses in one of Accra’s plush areas, McCartay Hills. The building, well fenced and protected, is housing some of his family members.

Grace Minor, Taylor’s secretary when he served as state purchasing agent and now Senior Senator of Montserrado County, has also purchased a house in Osu, another plush area in Accra. Besides, the senator also owns a consultancy firm in Osu. The firm is said to be managed by one Mr. Morgan, and assisted by the senator’s sister, Comfort Minor. Comfort has reportedly travelled to Switzerland, a country known for banking money for Africa’s corrupt dictators. A European paper, The Times, estimates Taylor’s wealth at $2.8b

Foreign Minister Monie Captan, Ms Minor,s son-in-law, has a well-furnished residential building in the Accra commercial center of Makola. The family is also said to be owning business in which electrical appliances and other commodities are sold.

Information Minister Reginal Goodrich, owns a home in Tema, while the head of the lucrative Maritime business, Benoni Urey, who recently set-up a $2m telephone company in Monrovia, owns a home in . North Kanishie, Accra. The Assistant Minister of National Defence for Public Affairs Phiplibert Browne, has a home in the same area.

Thomas Woewiyu, Taylor’s wartime defence spokesman and one of the main leaders of the rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) now a Senator, has a luxurious home in Accra. Maxwell Kaba, a former Minister of Post and Telecommunication has a poultry farm in Accra.

Other former and present officials with properties in Accra include Philip Kamah, Minister of National Security, who owns a house in Adenta, an Accra suburb; Grand Bass Senator, Thomas Woeyiwu and former councilman Oscar Quiah each has a house in Adenta.

But Accra is not only attractive to the current rulers. Several past warlords and their lieutenants allegedly bought homes in the Ghanaian capital. George E.S. Boley, former leader of the armed faction the Liberia Peace Council, is said to own a home in Tema. The building was allegedly bought in 1993. Reports say Dr. Boley frequently visits Ghana. His associate, Weade Korbah Wreh, also owns a home in the area.

Prior to his assassination by President Taylor’s bodyguards, opposition politician Samuel Saye Dokie bought an estate building in Adenta, suburb of Accra. Some of his family members are accordingly living in the building. Dokie, his wife Mrs. Janet Dahn-Dokie, and two others were cold-bloodedly murdered on November 28,1997 on the alleged orders of Special Security Service (SSS) director Benjamin Yeatan. Roosevelt Johnson, former leader of ULIMO-J reportedly bought a house in Adenta. Johnson is said to have bought the house in 1995.

Owning properties in Ghana does not require obtaining resident of work permit unless if an individual wishes to do so. With money and the readiness foreigners can own properties in Ghana provided they would abide by the country’s laws.

Views sampled among Liberian refugees point outrage. “They send in refugee camps, steal our money, and buy homes here. This is why they killed 250,000 people. This is their definition of democracy and development. They steal to enrich other societies while their people languish in refugee camps. Only God can help us correct this imbalance”, said a University student now living in a one-room refugee hut.

”We thought the people came to effect positive changes; behold they came to enrich themselves. Hope the international community will do something about people who squandered the country’s resources to develop other countries only because they can find peace of mind outside Liberia,” said a former Government official on condition anonymity.

The Liberian population in Ghana has been steadily growing since the outbreak of the country’s catastrophic war in 1989. Prior to this, few Liberians, mainly students, lived here. When West African force ECOMOG established security in Monrovia, the refugee camps were virtually empty. But they were over-flooded in 1996 when Taylor and Aljahi Kromah sparked new rounds of fighting in the city with the backing of ECOMOG. Over 3000 people were killed. Many refugees who returned home left for Accra and other refugee camps. Since the election, contrary to hopes of mass return home, there has been a mass exodus.