Liberia: Tolbert family demands decent burial

The family of the slain President, Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr, who was assassinated for 42 years in a bloody military coup on April 12, 1980 and the children of officials from the former government led by the real Whig party have reiterated the call here for the late President and others to receive a proper burial.

The late President Tolbert, then Chairman of the former Organization of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU) was assassinated inside the Executive Mansion early on April 12, 1980 by 17 enlisted officers of the Forces armies of Liberia commanded by Master Sgt. Samuel Kanyon Doe. A few weeks later, 13 officials of the Tolbert regime were charged with rampant corruption, tried by a military tribunal and executed by firing squad at Barclay Training Center, Monrovia’s main military barracks.

Spokesman for the family of the former president and victims of the 1980 military coup, Dr. Richard Tolbert, and the son of pro-tempore former Senate President Frank Tolbert, called the mass grave in which their late parents were buried in shame for the whole nation.

Speaking to reporters shortly after laying wreaths at the Memorial Triangle mass grave at Palm Grove Cemetery on Center Street in Monrovia on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Dr. Tolbert stressed the need to remember these men of state because they gave their lives and sacrificed their lives. blood to avoid chaos in Liberia,

He recalled that about 26 people, including ex-president Tolbert, who were killed following the bloody military coup of April 12, 1980, were buried in the mass grave.

“We come here every year to at least honor our fallen President William R Tolbert, former President of the Organization of African Unity and President of the 30 million Baptist World Alliance and other statesmen, who lost their lives in the military coup,” he recalled.

“Some of those killed and buried in the mass grave are General Charles Railey; the Commander of the Executive Mansion Guard; a Special Security Service officer, Gabriel Moore; and Lt. Railroad Vesehley, of the Armed Forces of the Liberia and Momoh Tolbert, the son of the late president who ran towards him as he was shot.”

A daughter of the late General Charles Railey, who was commander of the Executive Guard Battalion, Precious Railey Dennis, has told how her father was killed.

According to her, the family had returned to the executive mansion after a program organized by the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia and observed that the entire gate of the mansion was without any security personnel.

“During the early hours of April 12, 1980, we were awakened by loud gunfire, so my mother crawled into her lap and woke me. When we got up, our father, General Railey , was already escorted by some of the soldiers who were supposed to work with him.

Ms Dennis, then 14, said General Railey was killed by the soldiers when he was shot four times right before their eyes behind the Executive Mansion.

On April 12, 1980, 17 non-commissioned officers under the banner of the People’s Redemption Council, announced on state radio that the TWP-led government had been overthrown, declared the dusk-to-dawn curfew and ordered the closure of borders by air, land and sea.

A few days later, a military tribunal set up by the PRC found some of the TWP government officials guilty of corruption, nepotism and abuse of public office and executed 13 of them.

Those executed were Frank E. Tolbert, brother of President Tolbert and pro-tempore President of the Senate; Richard A. Henries, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and E. Reginald Townsend, National Chairman of the True Whig Party.

Others were P. Clarence Parker, II, chairman of the National Investment Council and treasurer of the True Whig Party; James AA Pierre, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Joseph J. Chesson, Sr., Minister of Justice; Cecil Dennis, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Cyril Bright, former Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, and John W. Sherman, Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce, respectively.

The others were James T. Phillips, former Treasury Secretary; former Minister of Agriculture; David Franklin Neal, former Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs; Charles TO King, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and Frank J. Stewart, Sr., Budget Director.

Others who accompanied Dr. Tolbert to the memorial triangle were Stephen Tolbert and AB Tolbert’s son.