Home Politics Amid Protests Across Military Barracks By Soldiers’ Wives: Boakai’s Defense Minister Resigns …But Denies Involvement In Corruption

Amid Protests Across Military Barracks By Soldiers’ Wives: Boakai’s Defense Minister Resigns …But Denies Involvement In Corruption

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has accepted a letter of resignation from the recently appointed Minister of National Defense, M/General Prince C. Johnson (Retired).

In his letter of resignation, the Minister said he resigned because of “current political and civil disturbances occasioned by the protest of women believed to be wives of servicemen.”

He has made the decision to resigned and preserve the peace and security of the state.

The president expressed gratitude to Minister Johnson for invaluable service to the country and described him as a “patriot.”

In another development, the president has “instructed the army to ensure all those impending the free movement of people and vehicles through actions that blocked major thoroughfares across the country to immediately removed themselves and allow government to resolved their grievances.”

Earlier, the Executive Mansion disclosed that on Sunday, President Boakai met with the wives of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and reassured that their grievances would be thoroughly investigated with a view to finding redress where possible.

The Executive Mansion quoted President Boakai, who is also Commander-In-Chief (CIC) of the AFL as disclosing that he met with the wives of the AFL soldiers at his Rehab Office to hear their grievances.
According to the Executive Mansion, “The women highlighted challenges they are currently experiencing at the Edward Beyan Kesselly Barracks in Schefflin.

“These include retirement benefits, low salaries, corruption, lack of adequate insurance, education, poor housing, lack of electricity, social services, and their general welfare.

“They stated that these challenges have lingered on too long enough without redress as the military leadership has remained indifferent.

The Commander-In-Chief reassured the women that their grievances would be thoroughly investigated with a view to finding redress where possible.

According to the Executive Mansion, CIC Boakai assured the protesting wives of the soldiers that he would constitute a committee to probe into the matter and provide report in a week time.

In the interim, the Executive Mansion, said the Liberia Electricity Corporation has restored electricity at the EBK Barrack on Roberts International Airport (RIA) Highway, upon the orders of the Commander-In-Chief. The President has also declared the Linda Thomas Greenfield School at the EBK Barracks tuition free.

“It is noted that the President has been in office for 20 days only and he has taken immediate steps already to address some of these issues which have been festering for more than five years,” the Executive Mansion indicated.

“He has asked the women to give him some time to investigate their issues and advised everyone to remain calm and peaceful as the government seeks to address their concerns,” Executive Mansion further disclosed.
The statement added that the nationwide protest by the wives of the soldiers triggered the Executive Mansion to declare cancellation of the Armed Forces Day celebration.

The statement indicated that yesterday, February 12, 2024, that “there wouldn’t be a formal program at the BTC this morning. His Excellency President Joseph Nyuma Boakai will lead a delegation to the Edward B. Kesselly Barracks this morning.”

Liberians were seen disembarking vehicles at the major protest points around the country to walk or ride tricycle (kehkeh), as economic activities were slow in those areas.

Fresh reports in the corridors of President Boakai say the newly appointed Minister of National Defense, Rt/General Prince C. Johnson, has tendered in his letter of resignation to the President following persistent protest by the wives of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Rt/General Johnson resigned on Monday, February 12, 2024, when the Nation could not celebrate the Armed Forces Day, a National Holiday, due to widespread protests by the wives of the current soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

General Johnson was appointed recently by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and subsequently confirmed by the Senate on Saturday, February 10, 2024, in the face of numerous allegations, ranging from disillusionment by some members of the army, maltreatments, rampant corruption, among others.

Spouses of the soldiers on Monday, February 12, 2024, intensified their protests nationwide indicating their disapproval of Rt/General Johnson leadership as Minister of National Defense.

They set up roadblocks, held placards with anti-Johnson’s slogans, calling on President Boakai to rescind the former Chief of Staff’s appointment for what they termed as his involvement in inhumane treatments against current soldiers of the AFL.

“We have come here today as the voices of those gallant men who by laws: the Constitution, the Defense Acts, the Geneva Conventions and rendering them as duck organization which cannot voice out their pains, frustrations, deprivations, marginalization, untold poverty willfully, deliberately placed upon us and our children by the former Defense Minister, Retired General Daniel Ziankan, and his Chief Architect, the Modern Pharaoh of our time in person of Major General Prince Charles Johnson,” (Retired), the army wives said.

On the day of Armed Forces Day celebration on Monday, February 12, the soldiers’ wives intensified their protests nationwide simultaneously in Monrovia, Gbarnga, Kakata, and at some of the major barracks entry points, including the Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Gbarnga, Todee Military Barracks in Montserrado County, Coast Guard and Star Base Military Barracks, the Military Police Barracks at the Smell No Taste, Roberts International Airport (RIA) and the home of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, the Edward Beyan Kesseley Military Barracks in on the RIA Highway in Lower Margibi County, etc.

“We the wives represented the various military centers including the Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Grand Gedeh County, Gbarnga Military Barracks in Bong County, Todee Military Barracks in Montserrado County, Lofa Military Barracks, Coast Guard and Star Base Military Barracks, the Military Police Barracks at the Smell No Taste, Roberts International Airport and the home of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, the Edward Beyan Kesseley Military Barracks in Lower Margibi County,” they told newsmen in Monrovia.

They, among other things, accused General Johnson of not remitting all of the monies and benefits of AFL soldiers on UN Peacekeeping missions abroad.

They accused General Johnson and former Defense Minister, Daniel Ziankan, now Ambassador Designate, of involvement in unfair employment practices. Under their leadership, the soldiers’ wives said, there was no sound retirement policy and soldiers, and families live in poor housing facilities.

This drew the attention of the government and the international community.

However, when the ECOWAS Resident Coordinator, Madam Josephine Nkrumah, tried to intervene in the situation on Saturday, February 10, the women told ECOWAS Resident in Liberia that their husbands were deliberately deprived and marginalized by Rt/General Johnson. Despite the meeting with Madam Nkrumah, the women continued their protest.

In a statement, the former Defense Minister said, he stepped down “for the common good of the country and the institution he has served for the past 18 years.”

Retired General Johnson, however, described as false allegation that he misused funds belonging to soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Also, the US Embassy near Monrovia, issued a statement earlier, that it was aware of ongoing protest by AFL spouses and the forced closure of major roads throughout greater Monrovia. “While the U.S. Embassy supports the right to peaceful protest, blocking roads and impeding the movement of Liberian citizens is disruptive and counterproductive. This is contrary to the respect of democracy and the rule of law. We call on all parties to come together for a peaceful resolution and dialogue,” the Embassy said.

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