Air Liberia and Pan Am shared the Monrovia – New York route. Pan Am flew in and out and President Tolbert was planning to buy a bigger Boeing to fly Air Liberia to New York. Tolbert did not make it. His life and dreams were cut short. Samuel Doe’s government found out they could get air tickets written by Air Liberia and use them on Pan Am or any of the tens of airlines that had chosen Monrovia as their hub.
Air Liberia issued first-class tickets on demand to government officials who used them to fly to Europe or the US. The government never settled with Air Liberia and couldn’t honor its debts. By the time the war started, it was headed for bankruptcy. Maybe it wouldn’t have the capacity to issue tickets any longer, but the aircraft belonged to Liberia. The war got bad. Charles Taylor’s troops were advancing on Monrovia from Kakata and Firestone. Prince Johnson was across the bridge.
Samuel Doe refused all offers to move to Nigeria or US, except if he could take along about 200 people. So he stayed until Prince Johnson lured him and kill him. Before he died, Doe put his family on Air Liberia to London. That was the last time we saw Air Liberia. The plane was taken away and auctioned to pay someone Liberia-owned money. That’s how Liberia lost its one jet. A court in London decided to go with the plaintiff. The plane was sold. The money could hardly cover what Liberia owed. Doe was fighting for his life so plane or no plane.
The person who sued Liberia said his company had been providing petroleum products to the country but had never received payments. It all looked very legitimate. A letter from the Minister of Finance confirmed the claims. This was all happening when people were starving in Monrovia. Dogs and cats had all been eaten. The person who seized the plane and the Minister of Finance was the same. The Minister of Finance of Liberia sued Liberia, seized Liberia’s aircraft in the heat of the war, took the money, and disappear.
According to a series of reports by the South African Mail & Guardian, “Mr. Shaw, one of Doe’s closest confidants, fled Liberia ahead of the dictator’s downfall in 1990, but before he did so he allegedly masterminded an elaborate ploy to rob the impoverished country of about $27-million – in effect the remaining assets the country had abroad. The court papers establish that Shaw set up a new national oil company in which he was a major shareholder, resigned as finance minister, and then wrote a letter as if he were still finance minister obligating the government to pay his oil company millions of dollars.”George K. Fahnbulleh, 16 March, 2011
What happened to that Minister? Was he ever held accountable? Nope.
Today, he is Advisor to Dr. Dr. President (Rev.?) George M Weah and is at the center of every major decision Weah makes.
Abdullah Dukuly is a Liberian journalist and news editor, formerly of The News, a Monrovia-based daily publication. Dukuly was arrested along with fellow editors Joseph Bartuah, Jerome Dalieh, and journalist Bobby Tapson on 21 February 2001 after The News reported the government of Charles Taylor paid 50,000 United States dollars to fix helicopters rather than pay civil servants.