Both Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, who controls the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberian National Coast Guard (LNCG), and Police Inspector General Chris Massaquoi have frequently issued statements reassuring the Liberian people that the nation’s security would be in tact once UNMIL departs, in scarcely SIX weeks from now.
The scheduled date of UNMIL’s departure is next month, is it not? Yet a whole oil tanker can land on one of our major beaches, in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, and no one knows when and how it got there!
Worse yet, one of the life boats from the same vessel has been found over a hundred miles away, in Edina, Grand Bassa County, and our security forces still have absolutely no clue as to how it got there, who took it there, and where its crew—or the crew of the oil tanker itself, found on the Robertsport beach – have disappeared to.
But the first question that arises is, who were on the tanker that docked at Robertsport? The speculation is that the Panama-registered tanker is owned by a Nigerian shipping concern, which may have been unable to pay its crew, who therefore abandoned the vessel.
But why did they choose to land on a Liberian beach—for what purpose and with what intent? Who actually are they? Are they the actual crew of the ship? Or was the vessel hijacked at sea, its actual crew done with—how, when and where may never be known if that were the case.
Who were they that actually landed the vessel on the Robertsport beach, and where have they disappeared to? Were they mercenaries? If so, what are mercenaries doing on Liberian soil? Where are they from? And what is their mission here?
If they departed the tanker by the lifeboat that was found in Edina, then where have they gone? Liberian security authorities say that they are searching for the mysterious and invisible crew. How is it possible that they have penetrated Liberian soil and no one has apparently seen them or knows their whereabouts?
This scenario is, to say the least, alarming, and amounts to a very serious threat to our national security. What does UNMIL know about this? Has our national security apparatus contacted UNMIL and requested their help in resolving this serious and urgent national dilemma?
What do the joint security personnel in Grand Bassa know about the life boat that landed in Edina? Have they seen anyone connected to it? If not, where have the crew gone? Surely Edina is a small city. Where could the crew have gone so quickly? Were there any strange vehicles in Edina or other parts of
Grand Bassa that could have so quickly and clandestinely facilitated their escape? Where to and why?
These are many questions that call for urgent answers. The longer we wait for answers the more serious is the threat to our national security.
The AFL, the LNP, the President’s National Security Advisor, the Immigration authorities and all the other national security forces must speedily find answers to these questions and, more importantly, find the crew from that ship and their explanation as to why they had chosen Liberia for their escape—and to where.
Remember what happened in Kenya and the September 21, 2013 attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall? The four Somali attackers, Al-Shabab loyalists, had been in Kenya for some time and some even had Kenyan passports. The question is who sheltered them in Kenya, and by what means, handsome financial pay-offs, or what?
We invoke this reflection to underscore the seriousness of the mysterious oil tanker incident in Liberia.
A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.