Liberia: Prince Johnson ‘Sentenced My Mother to Death’ – Watta Allison’s Son Breaks Silence
Monrovia – A video footage from Liberia’s brutal civil war depicting the interrogation and torture of Mrs. Angeline Watta Allision, the wife of late Defense Minister Gray Dio Allison, is making the rounds on the social media circuits and serving a chilling reminder of some of the many atrocities committed by Prince Y. Johnson, the former head of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia(INPFL).
Report by Mae Azango, [email protected]
Mr. Johnson, now a senior Senator from vote-rich Nimba County has been instrumental in deciding the last two presidential elections in Liberia. While the footage has been around for quite some time, the ongoing trial in the United States of Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, the former Defense Minister of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, from which Mr. Johnson broke away to form the INPFL, is being resurrected and shared by hundreds of Liberians on the worldwide web.
On January 30th 2014, Thomas Jucontee Woewiyu was placed under investigation in the U.S. for seven counts of crimes of perjury and two counts of fraud related to his immigration papers. On the 12th of May of the same year he was arrested in Newark Airport, returning from Liberia. In October, a bail was paid and he was granted temporary release before his trial under the condition that he stayed under house arrest.
Mr. Johnson is famously remembered for the pivotal role he played in ending the civil war, in particular, the capturing, torturing, mutilating and executing of late President Samuel Kanyon Doe, who had himself overthrown and murdered the previous president William R. Tolbert.
“Mr. Johnson sentenced my mother to death, and her execution was carried out by a female soldier, upon the order from Prince Johnson. It was said that she killed my mother and threw her body into the St. Paul River. The tragedy is that, after she was shot and killed, her body was thrown into the St. Paul River, where, immediately, it was wedged between some rocks. A few witnesses, saddened by the spectacle, used a few long sticks to push her body out into the main flow of the River, while others lamented the scene by saying, ’Ma Watta, never mind, ya!’”
‘To My Holy Communion’
On the video, an angry Johnson is seen interrogating the late Mrs. Allison and going as far as stretching across from the interview table and slapping her on the face: “You do not know me right? You lying here to me and talking all kinds of bullshit, you do not know me, ehn?” the former INPFL leader is seen speaking on the video.
Mr. Johnson was inquiring from Mrs. Allison whether she was convinced that her late husband went to the University of Liberia and open fire on students. The late Madam Allison, who was seated in a chair not far from Sen. Johnson; and she reacted, “Mr. Johnson, to my holy communion and my children I carried nine months, I do not know anything, it is just a plot to kill Gray. I was here, I was sick but I heard it when I came. I was sick.”
An angry Johnson then swung his hands across the table and slapped Mr. Allison, instructing an aide unseen in the video to ‘hand me my pistol’ before telling Mrs. Allison: “The man(Allison) walked to the University and killed students – with his bodyguards and you still say you don’t know.”
The former INPFL leader then tells an unseen aide in the room “her face looks wicked you see her so.”
Mrs. Allison is seen on the video pleading with Mr. Johnson and telling him that she was not in the country when her late husband supposedly went on the university campus.
Mr. Johnson then proceeded to ask the late Allison whether she did not hear the news of what her late husband had done. Mrs. Allison is seen asking Mr. Johnson whether he was asking if she had heard the news in the states where she tried to explain she was undergoing medical check up because she was not well.
Mrs. Allison is believed to have been killed a short while after the interrogation by the INPFL leader.
In a bid to get a sense of whether the family has seen the video and what they are making of it, FrontPageAfrica sat down with Mr. Max Dennis, son of the late Mrs. Allison who while expressing a desire to see justice take its course is leaving everything to God. “We as family all have the same feeling to see justice taking its course, but in respect to myself. I will say let God do his will and take care of everything,” Mr. Dennis lamented.
It can be recalled that in 1989, former Defense Minister Allison and his wife, Watta were accused of ritualistic killing of a man identified as Melvin Pyne, who was found dead on the train tracks in the Caldwell Township.
At the time, speculations were rife that the powerful and influential Defense minister wanted to dethrone President Samuel K, Doe, and become President. His wife, Watta, was accused of using the human parts to assist them.
Revisiting the horrors of his late mother’s final hours, Mr. Dennis, a former Minister of Youth & Sports in the Taylor government, painfully cringed as he recalled how his mother’s eyeglasses dropped from the brutal force of the slap to the floor of the room in which the Kangaroo style trial had been hastily arranged.
“I have seen that film of that hastily arranged trial, where my mother was slapped by Prince Johnson and the force of the slap, cause the glasses to drop to floor,” He said.
Asked whether he was convinced that Senator Johnson killed his mother, Mr. Dennis eyewitnesses who were in Caldwell at the time and witnessed the trial and its sordid result recalled that his mother’s death was carried out on the orders of Mr. Johnson.
‘Never Mind, Ma Watta’
Said Mr. Dennis: “Mr. Johnson sentenced my mother to death, and her execution was carried out by a female soldier, upon the order from Prince Johnson. It was said that she killed my mother and threw her body into the St. Paul River. The tragedy is that, after she was shot and killed, her body was thrown into the St. Paul River, where, immediately, it was wedged between some rocks. A few witnesses, saddened by the spectacle, used a few long sticks to push her body out into the main flow of the River, while others lamented the scene by saying, ’Ma Watta, never mind, ya!’”
Memorializing his late Mother, who was a former Commissioner of the Caldwell Township, Mr. Dennis displayed a portion of a speech he delivered in 2012, reflecting on the past regarding his parents’ death.
“Defense Minister Gray Dio Allison and his wife, Mrs. Watta Allison, were accused of ritualistic killing through a conspiracy brought against them in late 1989 by evil men within the security sector during the Administration of President Samuel K. Doe. From the beginning, it was a plan that they wanted to target Major General Allison and remove him from is powerful office and tarnish his reputation so that he was no longer a threat to President Samuel K. Doe and knowing that my mother would do all in her power to see her husband free, the plotters decided to include her in the crime.”
Mr. Dennis went on to recall that in 1989, his mother and husband Major General. Allison was placed under House Arrest that Friday afternoon. And upon hearing the news from a brother, he immediately went to his parent’ home in Caldwell.
While approaching to the main Gate, he recalled, he saw his mother sitting at the back door of the Kitchen, while some soldiers of late President Samuel Doe’s dreaded Special Anti-Terrorist Unit(SATU) were seen parading the yard. While trying to get closer, Mr. Dennis says he heard a SATU officer shout and demanding him to halt. When he got closer to his vehicle, the officer warned him to leave, a move he believed was intended to save his life.
Recalled Mr. Dennis: “Grey D. and Watta were humiliated in all forms. They made Major General Allison to appear at the trial in slippers and not in a full military Uniform, as required under the UMCJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).
The trial became a spectacle but painful event, while many made a mockery of it all.
Major General Allison was tried before a tribunal at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) under the Uniform Court of Military Justice (UCMJ), while his wife, Watta was taken to the Temple of Justice Criminal Court C. Both were found guilty. Gray D. was sentenced to death while his wife, Watta received life imprisonment,” Mr. Dennis recalled.
According to Mr. Dennis, his late father, who served his term at the maximum, notorious Belle Yalla prison in Lofa County was killed by NPFL rebels who overran Lofa County in 1990.
Mr. Dennis recalls that former President Charles Taylor later told him that the first group that released Gray D. from Belle Yalla was ordered to escort him to Gbarnga where Mr. Taylor had his main base. “Taylor told me he wanted to use the expertise of the general in the war against Doe,” Mr. Dennis recalled. “But the first NPFL group was soon overpowered by a renegade group who took Gray D. to Voinjama and killed him there.”
PYJ captures Watta from her Home
Mr. Dennis narrated that his mother remained at the BTC until Johnson’s INPFL ordered that all prisoners be released.
“Unfortunately, not knowing the deceptive nature of Prince Johnson, who had formed a headquarter in the township of Caldwell at the Taylor Major Compound, my mother decided to return to her home in Caldwell. But in a few days of her released, Prince Johnson decided to conduct a Kangaroo court, for the trial of my mother on the same false accusation that had been concluded.”
Key Figures in Allison’s Death
Revealing names of those who were involved in the conspiracy that killed his parents, Dennis narrated:
“It is an open secret on how those involved in the conspiracy met their painful deaths.
Justice Minister Jenkins KZB Scott met his death in a troubled state of mind, he roamed the streets of Monrovia without public sympathy, he plundered in open garbage for food and died a tormented and rejected man.
Jacob Nimely, Assistant Director of CID Affairs, died of wounds resulting from castration through ethnic revenge.
Henry Wlue Johnson, Assist Deputy Director of Operations LNP, died of a bullet wound from a gun he had asked Jacob Nimely to test the bulletproof protection they both had been given.
Joe Lesolee, Special Assistant to the Director of the Liberia National Police, who was also involved in the plot, told the TRC that the Allison’s were truly innocent and committed no crimes, but he was forced and even threatened of death to do what he did.
I subsequently spoke with him by cell phone to express gratitude and request our joint appearance before the commission, so I could forgive publicly, but he never got back to me. Presently, Mr. Lesolee is paralyzed and no longer works at the Post and Telecommunication. But the bible said; Vengeance is mine and I will repay, said the Lord.
No Word from PYJ
All effort to speak with Senator Prince Y. Johnson, proved futile as his phone rang endlessly.
Johnson was forced to flee to Nigeria after Taylor’s forces took over Monrovia and the arrival of West African Peace Keeping Force. While in Nigeria Johnson became a Christian and reconciled with the Doe family through the intervention of Nigerian evangelist, T.B. Joshua.
Johnson returned to Liberia in March 2004, following the resignation of Taylor as president and the installation of a transitional government. He stated his intention to return to politics, though he briefly left Liberia again on April 7, 2004 due to death threats he had received from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) rebel group.
In 2005, Johnson contested and won a Senate seat representing Nimba County and was for a while head of the powerful Senate’s defence committee.
In the June 2009 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was established as part of the 2003 peace deal, recommended Johnson’s inclusion on a list of 50 people who should be “specifically barred from holding public offices; elected or appointed for a period of thirty (30) years” for “being associated with former warring factions.”
Johnson labelled the recommendation a “joke,” noting the absence of several other combatants from the list and vowed to resist any charges brought as a result of the report.
In 2011, Johnson contested the presidency for the first time. Running on the banner of the newly-formed National Union for Democratic Progress(NUDP), he placed third, with 11.6% of the vote; the election was won by the country’s former president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Johnson also contested last October Presidential elections finishing fourth with 8.2 percent of the vote.