THE LIBERIAN SENATE dealt a major slap in the face of victims of Liberia’s brutal and bloody civil war this week with the appointment of Senator Prince Y. Johnson as head of the Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence.
MR. JOHNSON is one of the major players of the civil war responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent Liberians, including late President Samuel Kanyon Doe, whose ears were sliced off his face as he pleaded for mercy to no avail in September 1990.
ON WEDNESDAY, the United States Embassy in Monrovia issued a strong condemnation of the Senate leadership regarding the appointment of the former warlord, who was the leader of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a breakaway faction of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
THE EMBASSY IN a statement frowned on the appointment of Senator Johnson as Chair of the Liberian Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence.
THE EMBASSY SAID Senator Johnson’s gross human rights violations during Liberia’s civil wars are well-documented; his continued efforts to protect himself from accountability, enrich his own coffers and sow division are also well known. “That the Liberian Senate would see fit to elevate him to a leadership role – particularly in the area in which he has done this country the most harm — creates doubts as to the seriousness of the Senate as a steward of Liberia’s defense and security. The U.S. government is proud of our longstanding partnership with the Ministry of National Defense and Armed Forces of Liberia which will continue — but we can have no relationship with Senator Johnson,” the statement noted.
THE EMBASSY ALSO TOOK ISSUE WITH the appointment of Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman, recently sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for corruption involving judicial bribery, as chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions. “By giving Senators Johnson and Sherman these leadership roles, the Senate is effectively ensuring that corruption and lack of accountability flourish,” the statement noted.
AFTER MORE than a decade of civil war Liberia is still struggling to turn the corner amid political and economic uncertainties.
WHAT THE SENATE has effectively done is give Senator Johnson a green light to roam with impunity thereby ensuring that those whose lives were lost in a senseless war, died in vain.
AMONG THE MANY allegedly killed by Johnson – or his forces were: Fred Blay, former minister of Labor in Samuel Doe’s government, Larry Borteh, a former member of the People’s Redemption Council, Michael Doe, a former employee of Hotel Africa, who, according to eyewitnesses, was thrown from a high upper floor to the ground at the hotel.
ALSO KILLED WERE Eric Scott, a former Liberian Diplomat at the Liberian embassy in Washington and husband of Mrs. Debbie Scott, the proprietor of the School of Prime System (SPS), Tilma Momolue Gardiner, former Senior Security officer for president William V.S. Tubman and Acting Director of Police during the Administration of William Tolbert.
MR. JOHNSON AND HIS INPFL did not stop there, killing musical icons Tecumseh Roberts, Gedeh Rooster and Robert Toe as well as Madam Angeline Watta Allison, wife of former Defense Minister Gray D. Allison, who was slapped during interrogation and later killed by Mr. Johnson.
SAM TODY, A FORMER Managing Director of the National Housing Authority(NHA), also Commissioner of Customs was also among the victims of Johnson and his INPFL.
MR. JOHNSON’S INPFL was also responsible for the execution of J. Gbarflen Davies, Jr. Who once worked for the Liberian National Police.
IN THE FACE of mounting calls for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia, the Senate, without any concern for those killed brutally in the civil war by Johnson and his INPFL, turned a blind eye and rewarding Mr. Johnson with such a critical position, key to the push for a war crimes court in Liberia.
WE APPLAUD THE US government through its embassy in Monrovia for adding its voice to the quest for justice in Liberia and the quest to ensure that the families of those whose lives were lost in the war may finally get a chance to see justice for their friends, families and loved ones killed in this senseless war.
TOO MANY LIBERIANS lost their lives for nothing. Some died because they belonged to the wrong tribe – or simply happened to step on the toes of a rebel on a bad day.
IF LIBERIA FAILS to put its house in order, impunity will continue to linger for a long time, with many of those responsible walking the streets without fear.
THERE CAN BE no true lasting peace in Liberia without justice for those killed in the civil war. The players responsible should be made to pay the price for what they did to those innocent victims of the war.