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“The Gun that LiberatesShould not Rule”

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Presently, in his second term as the elected Senior Senator of the northeastern, Nimba County of Liberia, former Field Marshal/General Prince Yormie Johnson (PYJ,as he is known among friends and admirers),

wasCommander of Special Forces of the insurgent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) thatinvaded Liberia, military-style, on December 24, 1989. However,in response to differences with Mr. Charles Taylor, Leader of the NPFL, the Field Marshall/General founded, in July 1990 and was Commander-in-Chief of the breakaway faction, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).

In that position, General Prince Johnson led and commanded thefeared, brutal band of“freedom fighters” who plundered, looted and destroyed properties; they raped, maimed, tortured, summarily executed, killed and murdered innocent, unarmed men, women and children. In personal terms, General Prince Johnson, who broke away from the NPFL, he claimed, because of Mr. Taylor’s announced desire “to be president of Liberia for five years or more”, declaredthat “the gun that liberates should not rule” a profound, political philosophical statement and principle.

Caldwell Base, Killing adventure However, upon capture of the Monrovia’, suburbanBushrod Island communities of Vai Town, Clara Town, the Free Port of Monrovia, Somalia Drive Settlements, Point Four, New Kru Town, Duala, Saint Paul Bridge communities and a number of “Up River Settlements”, Prince Johnson’s INPFL established the Caldwell Settlement as its Base. From here the General controlled the port of Monrovia with warehouses of tons of imported rice, the premium requirement to feed hundreds of thousands of displaced, hungry refugees. Also from the-then, now famousCaldwell Base, General Prince Johnson embarked upon a personal adventure of summary, brutal executions.For example, during a single day, in December 1990, General Prince Johnson went on a killing spree in the various, island communities, shot at point blank and killing 13 persons – hungry, displaced refugees who came, appealing to him for rice from the free port. “You will not be hungry any more”, General Prince Johnson told the dead bodies (Eye witness Report).

Free Port of Monrovia, Killing of Pennue, Arrest of President Doe It was here at the Free Port offices of ECOMOG (with Ghanian General Quainoo, Commanding) that General Prince Johnson personally shot, disabled and arrested President Doe inside General Quainoo’s office, after killing almost all the President’s unarmed bodyguards outside and the entrance (President Doe’s body guards had surrendered their arms to ECOMOG upon entering the Port, a requirement that Prince Johnson and his men refused to obey). Prince Johnson also shot Harrison Pennue with an AK-47 point blank in the head that “blew his brains out”.

How did Prince Johnson get to know of President Doe’s visit to the Free Port at the precise moment? This, and others are several unanswered questions, but that is not point of inquiry of this article. Samuel Doe is dead, murdered by Prince Johnson who is Nimba County’s senior senator now, seeking the nation’s presidency (Stephen Ellis, The Mask of Anarchy, pp. 5-9).

Torture& Murder of Sitting President and the Prince Johnson Principle

Taken to the Caldwell Base, Prince Johnson personally tortured, mutilated the President’s body while alive and eventually murdered the sitting President, all captured on video with a beer-drinking Prince Johnson. For this heinous crime against humanity, the international community banned Prince Johnson from travel.

That ban is active, even in our own Africa.Meanwhile, the Prince Johnson, who said that “the gun that liberates should not rule”,but stood for the Liberian Senate twice on the strength of the heinous crimes committed during the civil war. He stood, also, for President of Liberia, contrary to his wartime rhetoric.

A professional soldier and lieutenant in the Armed Forces of Liberia,now a revolutionary in Charles Taylor’s insurgency (NPFL) determined to remove a dictator in 1989 in order to restore to the Liberian people free choice in selection of their leaders, General Prince Johnson broke away from Taylor in 1990 and organized his own faction, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) with political leadership intentions.

Upon capture and murder of President Doe, the “jubilant Prince Johnson, already self-proclaimed brigadier-general and field marshal, now declared himself acting president of Liberia and commandeered the captured presidential motorcade for progress around Monrovia. He took to wearing the late President’s wristwatch and glasses” (Stephen Ellis, The Mask of Anarchy, pp. 11).

The 2017 Presidential Elections Into this political drama come Presidential Candidates, including the Senior Senator of Nimba County, Honorable Prince Yormie Johnson. Thefirst incident(New Dawn, October 6, 2015) of note involving the Nimba County Lawmaker was his election by his colleagues to represent Liberia at theRegional, ECOWAS Parliament.

Periodically, air tickets, travel allowances and relevant preparations were made available by ECOWAS, but the Honorable Senator did not show, absent from all sessions and functions of the Regional Body.The Senator’s absence from the ECOWAS Parliament drew the attention of his Senate colleagues who decided to invite him for explanations.

But PYJ provided no reasonable explanations, other than an unidentified “source” which hinted that the Nimba County Lawmaker received “tip-offs” that “he (the lawmaker) would be arrested outside of Liberia for his role in the Liberian civil war”.

Thesecond incident(New Democrat, October 7, 2015) is concerned with the Senator’s reaction to the TRC recommendations forWar Crime Court for the trial of human right violators during the civil war. Upon submission of the TRC Recommendations to the Senate by the President, the Senate met to select and appoint a committee for debate and consideration of the request. According to the newspaper, Senator Prince Johnson “accused the TRC of not living up to the task, describing . . . the TRC as a political weapon that was established to target certain people in the society . . . Warned fellow Senators not to treat the matter with sentiment or emotion. ‘I see two groups of people here: one group of people is discussing this issue with sentiment and emotion. We have to be very careful as to how we go about making decision on this matter because it’s about our country’s peace and security and the future of this country”’.

The people of Nimba County elected Prince Johnson, not once but twice, to represent them in the Legislature. But their representative lawmaker has been declared unfit by his colleagues to perform the crucial functions of the working on the review committee of the TRC of Liberia report.Finally, the Senate mandated its standing Committee on National Reconciliation, Judiciary, Claims and Petitions to “look into the report and properly advise the Body”.Senator Johnson is not included on the Committee.

The third incident is concerned with the prevailing “preoccupations” with political power, etc., etc., the endless “discussions” within the various, many political parties and posturing for“standard Bearer or deputy standard bearer”, come 2017. With his newly-acquired “kingmaker” status of a third place position for president in the last presidential elections and re-elected for second term with unassailable standing in vote-rich, Nimba County, Senator Johnson, perhaps, is out to flex his political muscle. Early this year, the Senator announced support for VP Boakai of the UP as the most “experienced candidate for President”.

Recently, the New Democrat(New Democrat, October 19, 2015) headlined “PYJ In US $2M Deal, For VP Boakai’s Running Mate”. Although “. . . sources privileged to discussions (between the Senator & VP) have confided that . . . Senator Prince Johnson is insisting being the person that will ride with the Ambassador Boakai’s ticket as Vice Presidential candidate”, the spokesman for Senator Johnson responded “that the allegation (of a US$2m request/demand for support while on the same ticket as Vice President) is from the belly of the devil. It is far from the truth . . . Senator Johnson will be contesting the 2017 elections as a presidential candidate”. However, there are several recorded negatives that confront the Nimba Senior Senator’s future political ambitions:

Reacting to the demand for a US $2M by Senator Prince Johnson for support of Vice President Boakai, a VP Boakai Insider indicated concerns about “unpredictability associated with the name of Prince Johnson”; specifically, the Boakai Insider held that:

a) “During the 2011 elections, Prince Johnson bad-mouthed the NEC and the-then candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, alleging that that polls were fraudulent. He then announced a boycott of the run-offs along with other opposition candidates. The next day, he was announcing his support for Mrs. Sirleaf, telling the BBC about his ‘adaptability to circumstances as they arise’”.

b) Early “this year, he has given conflicting signals about his support and admiration for the Vice President (Boakai). He told state Radio (listeners) that he will back Boakai for the Presidency and then the news appeared – he’s c candidate”.

“Prnice Johnson – the born again Christian and former warlord has been enjoying the reputation of a kingmaker since the 2011 elections in which he emerged amongst the big three Highly Unreliable, the Nimba County Senator seems determined to play such role again with a fresh re-election victory (2014 Senate Mid-Term Elections) that testified to his undiminished popularity in the vote-rich region. Reports of kickback in return for support to Johnson-Sirleaf in the second round of polling in 2011 led his (Senator Prince Johnson’s) exit (or expulsion) from the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) – the political party he organized and financed. Rights abuse and atrocities committed during the civil war remain his (Prince Johnson’s) undeleted negative, but he denied being a war criminal and declared himself a ‘revolutionary’and a ‘liberator’” (New Democrat, October 19, 2015).

Regarding the exclusion of theNimba County Senator on the Ad Hoc Committee to review the TRC,s Recommendations from the President, his senate colleagues held that:“during his (the senator’s) appearance (at the TRC) public hearings, the Nimba Senator told Liberians that he has not killed anyone, a comment many Liberians saw as insincerity to the highest level”. In other words, a falsehood(FPA, October 16, 2015, PYJ Unfit for TRC).

Below, we publish the Article, Courtesy of IRIN

Liberia: Former warlord Prince Johnson seeks political career
Prince Y. Johnson

Former Liberian warlord Prince Johnson says he is a born-again Christian
Lagos, 28 July 2003 (IRIN) – Former Liberian warlord Prince Yormie Johnson has been exiled in Nigeria for 11 years after losing out in a power struggle with President Charles Taylor in 1992.

But as Taylor prepares to hand over control of war-torn Liberia to international peacekeepers and join Johnson in exile in Nigeria, Johnson is talking of going home to seek power through the ballot box rather than the barrel of a gun. And he clearly has his eyes set on eventually becoming president. “In my Nimbacounty, everybody there is behind me and I must go in as senator,” Johnson told IRIN in an interview. “I must start from that point and then let the Liberian people who are the judge to decide who they want.”

The man who tortured former president Samuel Doe to death in 1990 and recorded the gruesome two-hour ordeal on video tape, said he was now a born-again Christian, intent on taking a more peaceful path to power. “I am a born-again Christian and I have been here these past years preaching the word of God,” Johnson said. “I am a transformed man and what is most paramount to me now is how my divided people in Liberia can reconcile. I’m not interested in the past, my past is gone.”

Johnson said he sympathized with the two rebel movements fighting to oust Taylor from power, but they should stick to soldiering and not take political office. “Guns that liberate should not rule,” he stressed, recommending instead that rebel soldiers become the backbone of a new government army.

A former lieutenant in the Liberian army, Johnson joined Taylor in his guerilla war to remove Doe in 1989. But he split away a few months later to form his own faction, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). Johnson’s ragged band of fighters held the port of Monrovia when the first West African intervention force landed in Liberia in August 1990 to try and restore order in a country, which then, as today, was split between three warring parties.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is about to send in peacekeepers for the third time in 13 years to try and restore order in Liberia and pave the way for genuine democracy to take root in the country founded 156 years ago by freed American slaves.

Two battalionsof Nigerian troops are on stand-by to be rushed in as the vanguard of a multi-national peacekeeping force that will eventually number 5,000 men. Johnson, who personally welcomed the first Nigerian-led peacekeeping force into Liberia, said he unreservedly supported the latest ECOWAS plan for military intervention.

“The priority in Liberia now is security,” he said. “I am appealing to ECOWAS to send in a stabilizing force to secure the place and provide a conducive security atmosphere for everybody.”

However, Johnson said the interim government that emerges from peace talks under way in Ghana must have a very short tenure and give way quickly to an elected government.

He also urged the two rebel movements currently battling against Taylor, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL)to leave the political leadership of the country to civilians.

“The LURD rebels and MODEL, or whatever they call themselves, should understand that the guns that liberate should not rule,” Johnson said. “Nobody should be allowed to shoot their way into power by the barrel of the gun, because one may know how to manage the Kalashnikov but may not have the knowledge to administer the affairs of the state.”

LURD is currently fighting Taylor’s forces for control of Monrovia in a battle which has killed hundreds of civilians and left up to 300,000 people – nearly a third of the city’s population homeless. MODEL has captured most of southeastern Liberia.

In 1990 Johnson played a key role in the first battle for Monrovia when his troops captured Doe at the headquarters of the ECOMOG peacekeeping force and killed him. For posterity, Johnson documented on video his interrogation and torture of the wounded Doe. This showed both his ears being cut off before he was killed.

Johnson surrendered to ECOMOG in 1992 and was given asylum in Nigeria, where he lives as the guest of the government in a spacious but dilapidated villa in the commercial capital Lagos, surrounded by his 12 children. The former warlord has now become an evangelist for the little known Christ Deliverance Church.

Former Liberian warlords have developed a habit of going into exile in Nigeria. Prince Johnson and another unrelated faction leader, Roosevelt Johnson, were both offered asylum there in the early 1990s and now Taylor has declared that he is about to quit fighting and take up the invitation. Johnson said he had little sympathy for Taylor, who has been cornered by rebels, shunned by the international community and indicted as a criminal in neighboring Sierra Leone for backing rebels that country’s decade-long civil war in return for smuggled diamonds.

Johnson said he split with Taylor, who was eventually elected president in 1997, because he realized that the man wanted power for himself rather than genuine democracy.

“What we need most in Liberia is to get Taylor off our back,” Johnson said. “But I must tell you frankly, nobody is above the law. “He has been indicted by an international tribunal for war crimes and whatever they want to do with him is not my problem; all I want is to see that peace prevails in Liberia.”

REFERENCES:
Ellis, Stephen:The Mask of Anarchy, New York University Press, NY, 2001

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