Liberia: Bulletproof Jeep for Sirleaf's Son?

When some security officers assigned at the Executive Mansion stopped a dark Tahoe bullet proof Jeep entering the compound of the yard for inspection few weeks ago, little did they know that it was the property of Mr. Robert Sirleaf, son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).

The knowledge of Mr. Sirleaf's alleged ownership of the "bullet proof jeep" came to being when the man behind the wheel and another occupant told an inquiring officer that it was a "special gift" for Mr. Sirleaf.

As if the information he provided that the jeep was owned by Sirleaf was not enough, the driver further indicated that the car was a gift to Mr. Sirleaf from NOCAL.

"May we know you Sir and where are you going?" one security assigned at the gate of the Executive Mansion asked the driver after the jeep stopped for inspection.

In response to the security inquiry, two men in the vehicle replied, "We are taking this car to Hon Robert Sirleaf. This is a gift from NOCAL to him."

Right away, the officers submerged in submission and allowed the car through the gate as it drove slowly toward the residence of the alleged owner (Mr. Sirleaf). "Okay sir. You can go ahead," he said, with a response from the driver, "thank you sir."

President Sirleaf has been criticized by several opposition politicians as well as human right activists both at home and abroad for allowing her son to chair such lucrative entity.

When this paper contacted his (Robert Sirleaf's) Mansion office for comment, security officers there said he was not available.

Normally, bullet proof is intended for people of high status in society or any wealthy person. In some cases, others ride it for security reasons.

It can be recalled that Mr. Sirleaf and the first family came under attack from Representative Edwin Snow recently. He had accused the first family of trying to control oil blocks in the country.

Few days after that, Robert Sirleaf debunked Snowe's accusation and accused a representative (he did not give a name) of trying to use his legislative influence to have shares in oil blocks in Liberia.

After his press conference, Snowe later told the media that he had lied on Mr. Sirleaf.

However, NOCAL has already indicated its innocence of gifting Mr. Sirleaf such gift.

M. Israel A. Akinsanya II, who is Second Vice President of NOCAL for Public Affairs categorically, denied giving Mr. Sirleaf any bullet proof jeep vehicle as a gift.

But he went on to say that Mr. Sirelaf, as chairman of the board was entitled to vehicle like is done in other public corporations in the country.

When quizzed whether the company ever gave him a vehicle since he claimed that is done in any corporation in the country, he responded so intriguingly.

"Mr. Sirleaf is using his private vehicle. Since he came to serve, he has been using that his two vehicles."

On whether he would be given vehicle soon, he replied, "If Mr. Sirleaf wants a vehicle he will go through the process as is laid down in the hand book of NOCAL. Once he meets all the procedures, he will have it."

He however said, Mr. Sirleaf was doing a good job for the company and it would be unfair for people to diminish his hard work and character that the corporation gave him a bullet proof jeep.

He continued that it was Mr. Sirelaf's right to request for vehicle. But close sources at NOCAL said "watch out, you will see the vehicle one day with Mr. Sirelaf riding. For now, you will see his other vehicles. Later on, you will see his bullet proof jeep."

One source said the jeep is similar to vehicle currently being used by Vice president Joseph Boakai.



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