By: Frank P. Martin
MONROVIA: Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, who is also Secretary General of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), has sharply reacted to Nimba County Senator, Prince Yormie Johnson’s accusation that he (Koijee), along with President George Manneh Weah, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and the Commissioner General of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, masterminded the disruption of his church worship Service on Sunday.
Multiple eyewitnesses said on Sunday, hundreds of individuals, wearing T-shirts of the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP), a coalition member of the current ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and of which Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, serves as a political leader, stormed the compound of the Christ Chapel of Faith Ministries in Paynesville, owned by Senator Johnson with protest.
According to eyewitnesses, the protesters accused Senator Johnson, who is also an Evangelist, of committing war and other egregious crimes during Liberia’s civil war that spanned more than a decade, and during which an estimated 250,000 persons, predominately women, children, and the elderly were killed while more than a million others internally and externally displaced.
According to the Monrovia City Mayor, the disruption of the worship service at the Christ Chapel of Faith Ministries in Paynesville on Sunday was orchestrated by Senator Johnson and not those he named as the masterminds of the protest incident.
Koijee did not provide evidence to substantiate this claim.
However, the Lord Mayor said, the situation was designed by Senator Johnson and other members of the opposition block, as “Scare political tactics” intended to instill fear and make citizens panic ahead of the Presidential and Legislative elections in the country.
Liberians will go to the polls on October 10, 2023, to choose the next President, Vice President and at about 15 Senators and 73 Representatives.
Moreover, Mayor Koijee told reporters on Sunday that the claims by the Nimba County Senator and former warlord that the Weah-led Government planned to have him killed threaten his (Koijee’s) heart.
Koijee maintains that individuals like “killer Prince Johnson” are ballooning peace in disguise to undermine the hard-earned peace that the Liberian nation continues to enjoy at the end of the senseless and brutal civil war.
Mayor Koijee: “Senator Johnson is pretending to be peaceful; he and others are the actual perpetrators of what transpired at his church edifice.”
Koijee made the assertions following a music jamboree held in the Township of Brewerville, outside Monrovia on Sunday.
The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Secretary General warned that the government, headed by President George Manneh Weah, will not succumb to any planned political tactic from the opposition block to distract the government from implementing plans and policies outlined in the manifesto of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
“The intention and conspiracy plotted against this government will not work because we are prepared and focused on taking the issues to the people through intellectual discussions and interactions as opposed to acts of violence as planned by the opposition to distract us. It is a clever attempt,” Koijee expressed.
Earlier, Senator Prince Johnson, in a press conference, accused the Monrovia City Mayor including Liberia Maritime Commissioner, Lenn Eugene Nagbe; and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, for being architects behind the protesters’ action to “vandalize” and disrupt activities of his Church’s Sunday service.
The protesters identified themselves as members of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) Youth League and that they had gone to the church edifice of Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, in response to his previous social media post, intended to respond to Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor’s “attack” on his person.
Senator Johnson, alias, PYJ, previously posted on his official Facebook over the weekend to respond to VP Jewel Howard Taylor, who is NPP’s Standard Bearer relative to claims of him (Johnson) being killer; therefore, electing former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to the Liberian Presidency in October this year will equal to electing the Nimba County Senator to the highest seat of the nation.
Members of the NPP Youth league were seen with anti-PYJ placards as they chanted political battle cries, although they also claimed to have gone to worship with Senator Johnson, a Nigeria-trained Evangelist.
“We have come to worship with Senator Prince Johnson and his Church goers peacefully as citizens of this nation to listen to his sermon at this particular time in the history of our country,” Emmanuel Blydden, National Vice Chair for Press and Propaganda of the NPP Youth League, told reporters in Paynesville on Sunday.
“We have come to send a caveat to Senator Prince Johnson to tell him that the National Patriotic Party (NPP) is not a party to joke with”, Jimmy R. Toby, Chair of the NPP Youth League added.
The protesters accused the Nimba County Senator of using his church edifice to politically attack stakeholders who have policy disagreements with him at the “expense of the congregation.”
“He uses his church to denigrate state leaders and we are prepared to worship with him. And this time around, we, as members of the youth league of the indomitable National Patriotic Party, will not take that from him to insult the sitting Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor ,” Toby expressed.
Meanwhile, Senator Prince Johnson reflected on the dark days of the country when officials of the People Redemption Council (PRC) killed former government officials along with former President Williams R. Tolbert.
PYJ: “This is how the war started when certain individuals felt more superior and untouchable. They went as far as violating others’ rights because they felt powerful and thought nothing could happen to them. I do not want us to go that route because I think the country has gone through a lot and it is about time that we move forward. If I want to be like you guys, behaving violently, I can give some guys cane juice to misbehave like how you paid those guys to misbehave here today,” Senator Johnson noted.
He continued: “Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence made a mature decision to support former Vice President Joseph Boakai for the 2023 elections as President. Because of her matured decision, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor decided to hire some hooligans to endorse their presidential bid during which she called me warlord and a convicted criminal, who will overthrow Boakai after he is elected as president comes October,” the Senator explained.
On Thursday, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, giving her opinion on the Boakai-Koung ticket said, Liberians should be concerned of the ticket on the grounds that if ex-vice President Boakai wins the presidency and die in office “due to his poor health,” it is Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson, who will run the Liberian Presidency in disguise, instead of Senator Jeremiah Koung, now running mate to former VP Boakai.
She said: “This team that they are putting together on their side – Boakai-Koung team, we all knows that the Vice President is not well. Everybody knows. And I just want ask the press people one question. God forbid, if people elect Vice President Boakai as President of Liberia, and he die in the seat, who will be president?”
In response to the question, a surging crowd of VP Taylor’s supporters answered: “Prince Johnson.”
Jewel: “So, we are coming to make Prince Johnson President? You need to think about it very carefully.”
Senator Johnson, a former rebel leader, is well known for orchestrating the murder of President Samuel Kanyon Doe during the first Liberian civil war in 1990.
He returned to Liberia from exile and has since established himself as a key political figure in Liberian politics, serving as Senator of votes-rich Nimba County for nearly 18 years now.
The Nimba County Senator played a pivotal role in the election of incumbent President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor (both then Senators) when he pledged his support to them during the Presidential runoff election in 2017 that led to the defeat of Boakai and his Unity Party.
However, PYJ broke ties with Weah and subsequently switched political allegiance to Weah’s political nemesis, former Vice President Joe Boakai as the crucial 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections fast approach.
Amb. Boakai and his former ruling Unity Party (UP) then selected Senator Jeremiah Kpan Koung, political leader of Senator Johnson’s party, the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) as his running mate.
Vice President Howard-Taylor cautioned Liberians that are backing the Unity Party to think deeply before making any decision.
But, in response to the Vice President’s accusation, Senator Johnson disclosed that his decision to support former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and Senator Jeremiah Kpan Koung is based on national “conspiracy and tsunami victory of the nation.”
“Our decision is the decision of the people and not on personal basis as insinuated by the Vice President”, Senator Johnson told Journalists at his Paynesville residence, May 21, 2023.
In furtherance to the Vice President’s claims of Johnson being a “killer” who can’t be trusted with state’s power, the Nimba County political “Godfather” denied that the allegations against him are false and misleading because there is no record that shows his trial and conviction in an independent court of competent jurisprudence for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, as “oppose to the Vice President’s husband, former President, Charles G. Taylor,” who was tried and convicted by a United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war and sentenced to 50-year jail for his role in that country’s armed conflict during which thousands of people were killed.
Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor served as the 22nd President of Liberia from August 2, 1997 until his apparent forced resignation on August 11, 2023, as a result of the second Liberian Civil War and growing international pressure which were reinforced by call from former US President, George W. Bush for Mr. Taylor to resign and leave Liberia.
Since May 2012, Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in a British prison, after being found guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied by the Special Court, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, terrorism, murder and rape, committed in Sierra Leone.
Senator Johnson pointed accusing finger at President Weah of being the instigator and mastermind behind the Sunday, May 21, 2023 attack on his Christ Chapel of Faith Church located on Lover Street in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia.
Senator Johnson: “Let me say this to President Weah when I supported you, I was a holy ghost. Now, that I have withdrawn my support from you, I’m a War criminal and you want to kill me that is your plan. But, you cannot kill me, and I cannot run away. The fact I’m 70 years old tells you I’m well protected. So, if you continue to push an attack against me, there will be no other options left but for me to defend myself and I have forces to do that.”
The entire perimeter of Senator Johnson Christ Chapel of Faith on Sunday was a scene of dramatic showdown of disorder when a gang of men believed to be supporters and sympathizers of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) auxiliary youth besieged the church edifice, holding placards bearing the inscriptions “We want war crimes court”, “War crimes court coming for you” while at the same time singing anti-Johnson hymns.
Other inscriptions on the placards held by the men who were seen attired in NPP and CDC party regalia were: “Warlord must face trial, “National Patriotic Youth Wing Supports War and Economic Crimes Court.”
It is being rumored that the group action to have besieged the church edifice was grounded on information gathered that Senator Johnson had planned to respond to Vice President Howard-Taylors recent claim that he (Johnson) had concocted a plot to take over the Presidency through Senator Jeremiah Koung as running-mate to former Vice President Boakai via his regular Sunday’s sermon.
He accused Vice President Howard-Taylor, Liberia Maritime Commissioner Lenn Eugene Nagbe and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee of being the key masterminds of government’s alleged plan to assassinate him.
Johnson reiterated that he is not afraid of the establishment of a war crimes court here and would love the War Crime Court to come to Liberia.
He said he would also love to know what happened to the innocent people killed during the July 1990 St. Peter’s Lutheran Church massacre, and would love to know how Nimba citizens, were slaughtered during the war.
“I am not afraid of war crimes court because I would love to know how those innocent Nimbaians were slaughtered and those that were killed in the Lutheran Church. But going about bringing a war crime court, shouldn’t be an attack on me, it’s not to tease one person about the Court, and we will all face it,” he said.
The former feared warlord who once headed the dreaded Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), an erstwhile breakaway and former warring faction of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) then headed by convicted former war criminal, Charles Ghankay Taylor, expressed that he has no interest in war but vowed to retaliate in self-defense whenever he feels threatened.
Senator Johnson: “I don’t want war, I really don’t want anything, I have people who can stand up and resist those against me but for the sake of peace, I submit to you, Vice President Taylor, but if you continue to push me, there will be a defense.”
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson has promised to next Sunday, May 28, 2023, deliver his sermon and warned anyone that will come into his backyard and invade his Sunday service, “If you come in my backyard and attack me, we will defend ourselves.
His Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) and the former ruling Unity Party sealed the deal for collaboration in the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
Since Senator Johnson announced support for former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s presidential bid in the October election, a move that landed Nimba County Jeremiah Koung who has been widely considered as a protégé to Senator Johnson, a vice running-mate slot on the UP ticket, there have been uneasiness in some political quarters.