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Liberia: Nimba Elders ‘Turnover’ County to Prince Johnson to ‘Run’ As He Pleases

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Ganta, Nimba County – What was meant to be a reconciliation talk between Nimba Senator Prince Y. Johnson (PYJ) and Nimba District #8 Representative Larry Younquoi on one hand and Representative Samuel G. Kogar on another, left Nimbaians wondering when it was realized that what was discussed and agreed upon behind closed doors was changed when the main mediators emerged to brief the larger body about their agreement.

At least some of the chiefs and elders, who were the main mediators between the three sons of their county and in the closed door meeting, had disagreed with the Chief Elder who, when he briefed the rest of Nimbaians, who had gathered at the Evangelical Free Church of West Africa in Ganta City to form part of the mediation, that in their closed-door meeting, they had all agreed to turn-over the county to Sen. PYJ to run it as he pleases.

It is no secret Sen. Johnson regards himself as the ‘Godfather’ of the county and this self-ego goes way back to the early days of the Liberian civil war in 1990.

At the Saturday, July 6th mediation meeting in Ganta, according to our Nimba Correspondent, these Nimbaians had met to try and find an amicable way to put an end to long-running and deep mistrust between their Senator and Representatives Younquoi and Kogar. Kogar represents District #5 in the Legislature. 

Days before the famous June 7 #SavetheState protest, organized by the Council of Patriots (COP), PYJ had accused his Nimba colleague lawmakers that they (Younquoi and Kogar) had transported to Monrovia at least 30 former rebel ‘generals’ to join the COP’s side of the protest. Not only that, the Senator, who is also a “man of God,” had reportedly stated that were anything untoward to have happened during the protest, those ex-generals had been told by the two representatives to make the situation “bloody” and that the blame would have been placed on the government of President George Manneh Weah, whom he (PYJ) has pledged his unflinching support to. He further accused the two lawmakers of recruiting the ‘generals’, most of whom fought for his rival warring faction—National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)—to cause chaos on June 7.

Both Younquoi and Kogar were said to have been in the United States on the day of the protest; and they have categorically denied any knowledge of what PYJ had charged.

Both men didn’t take kindly to what PYJ had said against them. They had wanted to take “other actions” against him; according to reports, some influential elders had requested them to “come back home” so that could talk it as “one family”. And so they (Larry and Samuel) gave their county’s elders a 21-day grace period to intervene and to have PYJ showed the pieces of evidence that he said he could proof against his colleagues in the legislature. 

The pair was demanding proofs from PYJ when they met behind closed door on Saturday, as according to them, it isn’t the first time that the Senator has openly accused them.

Because of the 21-day notice, Nimbaians gathered at the ECA Free Church in Ganta to mediate between their lawmakers.

According to our correspondent, when Sen. PYJ broke the news of hiring of mercenaries by Younquoi and Kogar in early June 2019 on a local radio in the county, he had reportedly said that he had all the pieces of evidence to prove it against his colleagues.

On Saturday, before the chiefs and elders had gone into their closed-door meeting, they and others along with the three lawmakers, had met in the open where the aggrieved and the accused were asked to state their disagreements.

According to our correspondent, who attended the meeting, the two representatives explained separately that Sen. PYJ continues to always say things against them but for the last accusation, they want him to show the proof he said he has.  

Specifically, Rep. Younquoi told the gathering that he wanted the traditional leaders to press the senator to prove all the allegations against him.

He stressed that Senator Johnson’s allegation put his family’s lives at risk as he wasn’t in the country.

For Kogar, he stressed that he was only waiting on the Senator to prove the allegation he had made against them.

Following their explanations, the Senator was asked to explain himself, too. 

Our correspondent said the Senator didn’t show any proof against his colleagues but went on circumlocution telling the body how he was building a personal community college in Ganta.

At one point during his explanation, he told his colleagues that before any one of them carries/brings any politicians to the county, that lawmaker should firstly seek his approval. 

When the chiefs and elders could not find a way forward during the open forum, they then called for the closed-door section.

Back from their hour-long closed-door meeting, Chief Peter G. Barloun, who heads the Nimba Chiefs and Elders told the waiting crowd that they had agreed to turn the county over to Senator Johnson to run it as he pleases. Before he made the statement, according to our correspondent, he presented the Senator L$200 as a “kola” from the traditional people of the county.

This was to the surprise of Representatives Younquoi, Kogar and some of the other chiefs and elders.

The chiefs and elders who spoke to our reporter, disclosed that during their closed-door meeting, Sen. Johnson was pressed to provide the pieces of evidence he claimed to have had against his colleagues and when he didn’t produce any shred of it, he was made to apologize to Younquoi and Kogar.

One of the elders said: “Senator Johnson told his friends sorry that he lied on them and then we told him to come and say sorry to Reps. Younquoi and Kogar openly. He agreed and we all agreed.”

This was buttressed by Rep. Younquoi, who told this newspaper that that was what they had exactly agreed upon in the closed-door meeting.

Rep. Younquoi vowed to “drag” the Senator to an international court.

Because the meeting ended in disarray, so frustrated was a youth representative, Otis Gee that he openly told Chief Barloun to kill him because the decision he announced “was not good for the young people of the county.”

In presenting the county to Senator Johnson, Chief Barloun said: “Senator, this county is for you; you can go ahead and do anything you wish to do.”

The head of Nimba’s Chiefs and Elders didn’t only stop there, he also told him to control the mountains and other natural resources in the county.

He informed the Senator to tell President Weah to employ more Nimbaians into his government. 

On July 1, 2019, PYJ told his kinsmen and women, who are complaining of lack of job under this Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) administration to join his Movement for Development and Reconstruction (MDR) political party if they want to be employed in government.

The Nimba County lawmaker made the statement at his party’s Congo Town headquarters when he pledged support to the CDC candidacies, Ms. Paulita Wie, who is the senatorial candidate on the ticket of the CDC and Mr. Abu Kamara, a candidate for the House of Representatives in District #15 in the Montserrado County by-election.

In his statement, the Nimba Senator, who has on many occasions boasted of being the godfather of the county, allayed the fears of Nimbaians that the George Weah-led administration has no intent to include people from Nimba in his government especially those from the previous government.

“In conclusion, there is a rumor going around that this government does not intent to include Nimbaians who worked in the Ellen’s government for the past 12 years. This is not true because when they go to the President he tells them to go to the senior senator of Nimba because he’s the one we are collaborating with.

“I invite all former GOL officials from Nimba to come and join ranks with us in the MDR and definitely we will consider recommending you for a job. You cannot come with UP vest and want to get a job. Go join CDC or come to us.

“People carrying wrong propaganda in Nimba are on the wrong side of history. There are no quick fixes to the problems we have. We all need to put all hands-on deck. So, if you are from a different party and come to us, you firstly have to join us before we can seek your interest.”

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