MONROVIA – Nimba County Representative Larry P. Younquoi has descended on his kinsman, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, for his recent blanket and “sugar-coated” statement provided in relation to his resignation as Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense and Veteran Affairs.
Lawmaker Younquoi is a member of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), which comprises of the Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), All Liberian Party (ALP) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP), while Senator Johnson is the former rebel leader of the notorious Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL)-a rebel group that ousted, captured, mutilated and killed former Liberian President Samuel K. Doe on September 9, 1990.
It can be recalled that in May of 2021, members of the Liberian Senate came under massive criticism for electing Senator Johnson as Chairman of the Senate Security committee.
The body was also condemned by the United States Embassy near Monrovia for the Election of the “notorious warlord”. The U.S. Embassy accused the Nimba Senator of well-documented gross human rights violations during Liberia’s civil wars.
Weeks after intense pressure from civil society actors and other international bodies, Senator Johnson early this week tendered in his resignation.
In his letter of resignation addressed to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate, Senator Johnson stated that the visits paid to him by high profile chefs and elders of Nimba County coupled with pieces of advice from other stakeholders and executives of his political party to consider resigning his role in the Senate as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs – a request he thought to honor.
He also told a local radio station that he resigned to also focus on his re-election and the re-election of President George Manneh Weah come 2023.
But speaking in an interview with FrontPageAfrica via telephone on Thursday, Representative Younquoi disclosed that Senator Johnson should see reason to resign from the entire Liberian Senate and focus on how he will turn himself over for war crimes and atrocities he allegedly committed during the Liberian civil conflict when the court is established.
He recalled a decision taken by Senator Johnson to snub his election as one of Liberia’s representatives to the ECOWAS Parliament about three years ago during the commencement of the 54th National Legislature for fear of being arrested and turned over for prosecution.
At the time, Senator Johnson claimed that he was withdrawing from the ECOWAS Parliament to focus on huge activities that he is engulfed with in Liberia which cannot permit him to travel for now.
But according to Representative Younquoi, the latest move made by Senator Johnson again to resign from heading the security committee of the Senate is another “scare tactics” intended to sway away from prosecution.
“I just want to first debunk the statement he made that he resigned to focus on his re-election and that of the President. That statement is far from the truth. The fact is that, he resigned because of pressure. He’s threatened now because he’s hearing that people are rolling up their sleeves to ensure that the state is sifter and sanitize of all these people with dubious records. It has nothing to do with one going to elections”
“Senator Johnson next excuse again will be I am resigning to pay attention to my church because when he was pressurized to leave ECOWAS for fear that he could be arrested any time giving the momentum that is being built around the war crimes court. This time now, I am sure that he will say he’s leaving to go and preach. So, this is another scary tactics from Senator Johnson”.
He blamed members of the Liberian Senate for the consistently scamming and scapegoating of Senator Johnson on the matter.
According to him, Senators did not have a second thought at the time to discourage their colleague from contesting as Chairman of the Committee on Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs.
Representative Younquoi described his kinsman as the “number one man on the list of notorious criminal” that should not have ever held such an “advantage position” at the level of the Liberian Senate when in fact, the U.S Congress is also interested in the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia.
He claimed that the strong caveat sounded by the American government not to do business with Liberian government if Senator Johnson heads the committee prompted his forced resignation.
“You know what America stands for. Who are we to stand in the way of the world power America? Obviously, he (Senator Johnson) looking for a palatable reason for which he left so he cannot look like a coward that he is”.
Representative Younquoi further claimed that the former warlord turned Senator is a “political embarrassment” to Nimba.
He noted that despite the situation, gone are the days where citizens and others where cajoled or fooled to “worship” or provide support to economic criminals and former warlords in Liberia because of their popularity.
“Senator Johnson is a political embarrassment of Nimba and he’s not a political godfather. It is a blasphemy for him to claim that he is the father of God”.
Representative Younquoi recalled that during the 2011 general and presidential elections, Senator Johnson fueled and supported ten candidates, and seven representatives and one Senator were successful out of the total number of persons supported.
He added that those candidates were supported at the time the “so-called popularity” of Senator Johnson was at a zenith.
He disclosed that during the 2017 general and presidential elections, Senator Johnson also fueled and supported similar candidates as compare to 2011, but only two of those he supported were elected at the House of Representatives.
“Senator Johnson’s popularity is a diminishing commodity. Nowadays, people struggle on his (political party) ticket to win. He (Johnson) is even worry about his own political future”
Representative Younquoi emphasized that the former warlord has brought a high level of embarrassment to the leadership of the country, making Nimba to appear as a “laughing stock”.
He indicated that his kinsman has no option, but to accept the popular call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia to guarantee the prosecution of he and the others.
According to him, no domestic or local stature can stand in the way of an international stature and as such, the Amnesty Law being pointed to by Senator Johnson and others cannot guarantee that they would not be prosecuted for war crimes and atrocities committed in Liberia.
It can be recalled that the 51st National Legislature, during the administration of ex-Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor, enacted a ‘hidden Act’ which grants amnesty to all persons associated with Liberia’s civil war beginning December 1989 to August 2003 is brought to the fore.
The Act, a copy of which FrontPageAfrica has obtained, is titled “An Act to Grant Immunity from Both Civil and Criminal Proceeding against All Persons within the Jurisdiction of the Republic of Liberia From Acts or Crimes Committed During the Civil War From December 1989 to August 2003.”
The Act was published on August 8, 2003 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was not repealed before the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which calls for the establishment of such court.
But Representative Younquoi maintained that the best thing for Senator Johnson to do now is to be remorseful for his sentencing for war crimes and atrocities to be reduced from multiple years to few instead of bragging and justifying his past actions.
“Senator Johnson has no choice; it’s just the matter of time. Why he needs to do now is to be remorseful for his sentence to be reduced”.