Claim: A presidential candidate in Liberia, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe claims, “Three years ago, a presidential vehicle was caught smuggling drugs, and nothing came out of it.”
Verdict: False! Ten years ago, a vehicle within the presidential convoy was arrested for smuggling drugs.
As elections draw closer in Liberia, politicians have started to make dozens of promises, allegations and counter-allegations.
Counselor Tiawon Gongloe, a presidential candidate in Liberia’s impending October presidential and legislative elections, is not holding back with his allegations.
Appearing on a local radio show, the “Spoon Talk,” aired on Spoon FM/TIV, Counselor Gongloe pulled no punches in his criticism of President Weah’s commitment to fighting drugs in Liberia. He alleged, “Three years ago, a presidential vehicle was caught smuggling drugs, and nothing came out of it.”
He repeated the same allegation on two other radio stations, FABRIC and Super FM/TV stations.
Counselor Gongloe’s comments were in response to a question asked by one of the show’s panellists about the issue of drugs in the country and how he would address it if he becomes the country’s next president after the October polls.
The standard bearer of the Liberia People Party (LPP), Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, asserted that drugs in Liberia are creating many criminals, and as such, they should be addressed holistically.
Counselor Gongloe said,
“The issue of drugs in the country has increased the criminal behaviour of a lot of young people, and not just in Monrovia but all over the country, so we have to be strong on law enforcement, improve the economy but also have to be strong on those who bring drugs in the country. It is connected to people at the top level of government. Why do I say so? Because three years ago, a presidential escort car was caught with drugs in it at Bo-Waterside, it was so embarrassing, and that case did not go anywhere.”
The show was live on the station’s official Facebook page with over 20k viewers, 3.6k comments, over 760 emojis and 414 shares.
The Liberian presidential aspirant claimed at 1:17:00-35 hours/minutes/seconds.
The issues of drugs in Liberia are increasing to the extent that the national government, in partnership with the United Nations, launched a US$ 13M project to get drug users off the streets and empower them.
At some point, the Liberian leader, President George Weah, blamed parents for allowing their kids to get onto the streets to peddle drugs and become addicted.
Recently, with the advent of a new drug, Kush, in the county, young people fall prey to this substance daily.
It can be recalled that the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Major General Prince C Johnson III, suggested that there should be a national drug test for all public officials, and it should be mandatory as a prerequisite for holding public office in the country.
Despite the increasingly worrying situation about illicit drugs in Liberia, is it true that illegal drugs were found in a presidential convoy three years ago?
It is important to fact-check this claim because it highlights the growing impunity of drug use in Liberia and attempts to incriminate high-ranking Liberian officials in the illegal drug trade. Moreso, with the polls five months away, it is important to verify critical national issues concerning security and drugs in the country. DUBAWA, therefore, feels obliged to look into this claim.
To begin with, DUBAWA first reached out to the claimant, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, to inquire about him the source or evidence of his claim, but he did not respond, as can be seen in the WhatsApp screenshots below.
DUBAWA then embarked on an investigative journey to ascertain the claim made by presidential hopeful Tiawan Gongloe in Liberia’s upcoming elections.
It was discovered that in 2013, ten years ago, under the then administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Perry Dolo, the Driver of ‘escort 1’, a police vehicle that led the convoy of the then President, was arrested with drugs in it.
DUBAWA also tried a Google search to see if the claim by Tiawan Gongloe would find expression in any media report in the last three years but found nothing.
Based on facts backed by various international and local media, the claim made by Counselor Tiawan Gongloe is false.