Liberia: Prince Johnson Threatens to Fight War Crimes Arrest
Monrovia – Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who prides himself as the “Godfather” of Nimba County, no longer wields that force of influence over his kinsmen and women like he did in time past. This is according to Representative Larry Younquoi, who represents District 8 in the same county.
Report by Alaskai Moore Johnson, New Narratives Justice Correspondent
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica on Wednesday, November 14, the Nimba County lawmaker disclosed that because of the Senator’s diminishing influence in the county, he (Senator Johnson) has resulted to threatening the lives of some of the county’s prominent sons.
“Senator Johnson has of late become a thorn in my flesh… He said it is good he knows my house and that of other senior citizens of the county in person of Cllr. [Tiawon] Gongloe,” the Nimba lawmaker revealed.
According to him, in addition to the Senator’s diminishing inspiration, he has also threatened their lives because he (Younquoi), Cllr. Gongloe and Representative Samuel Kogar have openly pledged their supports for the establishment of the war crimes or special court in Liberia.
PYJ: My Arrest Will Be Resisted
Sen. Johnson few days ago threatened that any attempts to arrest him will be met with stiff resistance.
“If you were to come to arrest me, I will fight you. I am a Senator looking for job and you there talking about war crimes court, come catch me,” the Senator threatened.
According to the Nimba Senator, the same crime that people want to arrest him for, is the same crime that the Liberian people “compensated” Charles Taylor and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for and gave them Liberia’s Presidency for six and 12 years. He further stated that Taylor was his boss and former President Sirleaf was his sponsor and both of them are not being talked about to be tried in Liberia for war crimes but only him people are after; terming it further as “selective justice,” and asked rhetorically, “How did he get free from an American maximum prison?”
Trying to make people to think that Nimbaians work at his whims or caprices, he boastfully stated, “My people believe I am a hero while others think I am a devil. When they were being killed I stood for them…Go grab Prince Johnson, you won’t be able to even come closer; you won’t even catch me because the resistance you will receive from young guys will be maximum, uncontrollable and ungovernable.”
Turning his threats towards his fellow Nimbaians, he added: “Those of you who are talking, it’s good you are talking so that we can know you. Because the day trouble comes here, which we don’t pray for, your homes will be the visitation first.”
Last October, when Sen. Johnson, who claims to be an evangelist, preached at his Christ Chapel of Faith Ministries, he stated, “God knows that people are after me for no reason, war crimes court, we will grab this man, we will do this one here, if my people abandon me, they make me vulnerable.” He boasted that the people of Nimba will never leave or abandon him.
Prince led the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), a deadly warring faction, which broke away from jailed former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). PYJ regards himself as the “savior of Nimba.”
“So Nimba County will never leave me; Nimba County is very grateful to me. Nimba County will always stand behind me in everything.”
He disclosed that God called him for one purpose: to come and save his people; adding, “Since then whenever I go to Nimba, people come around. My people love me. So if you try to use your money to get to me or get me out, you are going to be defeated. The people will chop your money for nothing.”
Prince’s Strength from Last Elections
The Senator’s political strength cannot, however, be ignored if one were to look back at the amount of votes he managed to obtain since entering politics in 2005. Perhaps, it is based on these results, including the Presidential Elections of 2011, the December 2014 Special Senatorial Elections and the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections that make the Senator to keep thinking that Nimbaians would always stand behind him.
In 2005, when Johnson first stepped foot into politics, he overwhelmingly won 33.8 percent equivalent to 81,820 votes, according to the National Elections Commission (NEC). He had contested for Nimba’s senatorial seat as an independent candidate. In the 2011 Presidential and General Elections, he contested for the nation’s presidency. In those elections, his kinsmen and women again overwhelmingly gave him 67.7 percent (110,735) of the total votes in Nimba. Former President Sirleaf got 25.2 percent while Cllr. Winston Tubman came a distant third with just 2.8 percent or 4,595 votes.
When the Senator was not qualified to contest in the runoff election that followed, he became known as the “kingmaker” and he swayed Nimba over to Madam Sirleaf.
Again, in the December 2014 Special Senatorial Election, Nimba’s total turnout was 59,418 and Johnson maintained his seat by obtaining 37,932 or 66.6 percent of the turnout.
In the recent 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections in which the Senator ran as a presidential candidate, again Nimbaians overwhelmingly rewarded him with 53.5 percent or 107,403 votes, while former Vice President Joseph Boakai obtained 39,964 (19.9%) with President George Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) getting 16,002 or 8.0 percent.
Back to Larry Younquoi
However, Rep. Younquoi reacting angrily to Prince’s recent comments, including his make believe that Nimbaians are going to come to his begging call whenever he likes or when he is being called upon by officers of the court when it is set up, told this newspaper that Prince Johnson should stop fooling himself.
The Nimba District 8 representative further stated being nearly 60, he has seen many of the county’s past senators and how they worked to bring sons and daughters of the county together, accusing Sen. Johnson as being a “divisive character.”
According to Rep. Younquoi, he is forced to react in the way he is doing to Prince Johnson because of the Senator’s characterization of the people of Nimba County.
“He has gone now to expose the county to another collective guilt. At our county seating two months ago, when he stood up to speak, he stated that war crimes is not going to come anywhere in Liberia and when it does come, he will fight,” Mr. Younquoi revealed, adding further that he had to abandon the gathering because of what Johnson had said.
“As the people’s representative, I thought of setting the record straight: his warmongering, his warlike statements are not the statements of Nimba people. We want to show the good face of Nimba. Nimba doesn’t constitute people with only bigger muscles but it has people with bigger brains or something good can come from Nimba.”
Younquoi stated that it is a “blaspheming” on the part of Sen. Johnson to carry himself as the ‘godfather’ of that county; adding: “Whatever made Sen. Johnson hero, why is he running away from the thing that made him hero—the killing of President [Samuel] Doe made him hero to the Nimba people.”
According to him, he became an ardent supporter of the establishment of the court because the Senator had told him sometime ago that when the war crimes court ever came to Liberia, he would be among the first to willingly go before it.
“Senator Johnson even the book you wrote, it is in it. Why are now running and looking for scapegoats. So Sen. Johnson, you are declining now from being hero to zero?”
He called on the Senator to remain penitent and apologetic to the Liberian people and should stop talking and making comments that are only aimed at creating chaos.
Speaking further, he blamed the country’s national security apparatus for not inviting the Senator long since to provide clarity on some of his warlike statements, indicating that they (statements) are threats to national security.
Rep. Younquoi emphasized that Johnson crossed the mark when he called his and the names of Gongloe and Kogar and threatened that their homes would be visited first if confusion ever broke up.
According to him, the Senator has caused more problems for the county than good; adding: “Senator Johnson didn’t fight in the interest of Nimba people.” He further stated that if they are looking for hero for their county, that award should be placed on former Senator Adolphus Dolo, who, according to him, risked his life even though being wounded, passed through the bushes from Western Liberia came to Nimba, organized some of the youths to defend their county when it was about to fall to rebel forces.
Among many charges, he stressed that he can’t doubt the Senator’s ability of threatening to eliminate them; adding: “Senator Johnson has nothing to prove but to show that he is capable of eliminating people. The man who can kill a constitutionally elected President, would anybody doubt his ability to kill?”
Giving his frank opinion of whether he wants the Senator exonerated or go to jail, Rep. Younquoi answered: “I think the best place he belongs is where Charles Taylor is. He should go to jail because he is not telling us his kinsmen that he regrets whatsoever he did.”
Also responding to the Senator’s threats, Cllr. Gongloe, one of the leading voices calling for the establishment of the war crimes or special court setup, told FrontPageAfrica that he won’t provide any dignity for what Senator Johnson had said.
Rep. Samuel Kogar
For Representative Kogar, he told this newspaper that he has not spoken to or with anyone specifically saying that the Senator should be arrested and taken to face the court. However, he asked: “But why is the Senator running all around the place and crying? Maybe he has smelled the rat.”
According to him, Liberia being a signatory to the statute that setup the Court, it has to abide by that instrument; adding: “So we should respect it. If the court would have issues with Senator Johnson, he should be willing to appear and face it and stop making noise all around the place.”
This story was a collaboration with the New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.