By Anthony Stephens with New Narratives
Momoh Gebah, commonly known as “Bull Dog”, an ex-aide-de-camp to warlord turned President Charles Taylor, has died. Gebah died on Saturday of XX, according to the National Patriotic Party (NPP) of which he was a member.
Gebah was considered one of Taylor’s most trusted security chiefs and was seen weeping in videos of Taylor’s resignation and departure from Liberia to exile in Nigeria in 2003. Taylor had relinquished the presidency in an ECOWAS-brokered peace deal as rebels from the Liberians United for Democracy and Reconstruction (LURD) laid siege to Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Taylor is now serving a 50-year-prison sentence for crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
Gebah was accused of gross human rights violations by victims testifying to Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC’s final report listed Gebah as 7th on a list of “most notorious perpetrators” in the civil wars.
Among the crimes detailed in the report was Geba’s summary executions of fourteen people in Konia, Lofa County after government’s troops had recaptured the town from LURD. Gebah also planned and executed the death of Francois Massaquoi, the Youth and Sports Minister at the time, according to the report.
Aside from being a bodyguard to Taylor, Gebah was a member of his National Patriotic Party, NPP. FPA/NN was unable to reach Gebah’s family directly. A family friend said they will not make any comments until they have returned to Liberia from Canada.
Andrew Peters, NPP Secretary General said party members were saddened by Gebah’s death.
“It’s something very much regrettable for the NPP,” said Peters by phone. “We wish the family our condolences and as a party, we will get involve to give him a befitting burial. He was one of the good citizens of this country who served the state and played his role during the service of former President Taylor.”
Justice advocates “frustrated” by deaths of alleged warlord without justice
Gebah is the latest Liberian war perpetrator to die without facing justice. Alhaji G.V. Kromah, leader of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy and Melvin Sogbandi, a former general of Taylor, died in January.
This has made justice advocates unhappy.
“It frustrates me a lot,” said Hassan Bility, Director of the Global Justice and Research Project, which has documented alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with Liberia’s civil wars. “The Liberian government is under international treaty obligation to make sure that these violations are investigated. But in addition to that, war crimes have no statute of limitations. It can go 40 years, 50 years, 60 years. Where we stop, generations unborn can start from there and continue the work as was done in the case of the Nazis.”
NPP didn’t have problem with “Bull Dog” facing justice
Peters said they would have supported Gebah’s prosecution.
“We would have loved see him defend himself against those charges against him,” said Peters. “You know, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
Liberia has not legislated a war crimes court, despite efforts by justice advocates. Constitutionally, only the Legislature can set up courts. But the body, which comprises some alleged war perpetrators, including Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County and Representative George Boley of Grand Gedeh County have blocked passage of a bill.
The Senate wants President Weah to set up a transitional justice commission to review the TRC’s commission, while the house wants its member to consult citizens on the court. A court would also ensure further investigations into the TRC’s recommendations. Bility reiterated his long-held view on the court.
“We are calling on the Liberian government to set up an extraordinary criminal court so that those investigations can be carried out and see which of the evidence or pieces of evidence pass the threshold.”
This story is a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the Investigating Liberia project. Funding was provided by the US Embassy in Liberia. The funder had no say in the story’s content.