Manifesting Play-for-Play: Senator Johnson’s Outburst over Lack of Jobs for Nimba Sheds Light on Reasons Behind Sanctions


MONROVIA — With ten months to the October presidential elections, it appears Senator Prince Y. Johnson has set into another pay-for-play scheme, and at the same time, threatening the incumbent President George Weah with the withdrawal of the county’s support in an attempt to have him succumb to his demands.

The United States-sanctioned Nimba County Senator has said that he is ending his political marriage with President Weah because the president failed to provide jobs for Nimbaians  (residents of the county) in exchange for support for Weah’s 2017 Presidential bid.

Johnson’s announcement that he will not support Weah in the October 2023 election comes as some Nimba County residents are preparing to announce their support for President Weah later this month.

“Let me clearly state that the agreement I signed with the president has come to an end, Johnson said.

Johnson urges the president to cancel his trip until he can settle his obligations to the county. “The people of Nimba worked hard to elect President Weah, but he has ignored them”, the senator said.

“The citizens of Nimba have for the  past five years been knocking at my door for the President to appoint them,” Johnson said. “I have used all diplomatic means and have consistently engaged this CDC led government, but nothing is working.’’

Last year, the United States sanctioned warlord-turned senator for alleged corruption under the Global Magnitsky Act. The act authorizes the United States government to sanction individuals it views as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the country.

The U.S. government accuses Senator Johnson  of being involved in  pay-for-play funding scheme with government ministries and agencies  for personal enrichment and offering the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money.

Under the scheme, the government ministries and agencies involved in the scheme launder a portion of the money. The scheme involves millions of dollars, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy. 

The U.S. government said Johnson  receives an undeserved salary from the Liberian government  to provide intelligence crucial to maintaining domestic stability. 

“Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money,” according to the U.S. government statement.

Johnson denounced the sanctions, telling the media that the allegations against him are “vague”, not fail to provide facts of his involvement in corruption. 

The senator said he is waiting for a more detailed explanation. He  challenged the U.S. government to provide  details about which specific administrations in Liberia had paid him corrupt fees.

“What we want is the facts,” said Johnson. “You can accuse people, but the evidence is what is important. Coming from Uncle Sam’s website — obviously the most powerful nation on earth whose footprint we follow democratically — so you don’t just destroy people’s name by accusing them without facts.”

In 2017, Weah promised to appoint Nimba citizens to top ministerial posts, managing directors and ambassador positions. The government is in its sixth year has failed to live up to his promise. In the last six years, only 2 persons from Nimba has held ministerial post.

Senator Johnson  called President Weah a “Promise breaker.’’ He said the Liberian leader only appointed his people from the southeast, ignoring the vote-rich Nimba County.

A recognition stunt – Nimbians

Senator Johnson’s move is, however, being condemned by many ordinary Nimbaians in the county, who say the ex-Liberian warlord’s moves are often for self-benefit and not the benefit of the entire county.

“The only major development Sen. Johnson can boast of in this county is his university which he built in his own name,” Prince Dolo, a resident of Ganta City told FPA.

Solomon Duakpah, a resident of Gompa, told FrontPage Africa, Senator Johnson is renowned for using his involvement in the civil war to threaten Nimbians to direct their directions during electioneering periods, cautioning his kinsmen to wise up ahead of the October presidential election.

“It’s time we (Nimbians) shun Senator Johnson and make an independent decision, not to fall prey to his decisions in October. We have rewarded him as a county for his role played in defending our county during the civil war by voting him twice as a senator and supporting candidates he has asked us to support in previous elections but he hasn’t rewarded us as a county.”

Saye Barlea, another native of Nimba County, said the Senator’s announcement calling for residents of the county to shun the pending petitioning program of the president is “late on arrival” as they (residents) are resolved to endorse President Weah. “We have understood Senator Johnson ‘s political gimmick and won’t cave into this any longer. We are prepared to endorse the president, and there is nothing that will stall this. Gone are the days Nimbians rely on Senator Johnson for political direction. Our overwhelming turnout will send a clear message to Senator Johnson ahead of the October presidential election.”

Senator Johnson’s leverage in Nimba is rooted in his days as a warlord, who claims to have fought for the protection of the people of Nimba.

He presided over the gruesome torture and killing of then President Samuel Doe. Doe’s ears were sliced off and he was left to bleed to death. A home video captures Johnson in fatigues, swigging Budweiser beer as he orders Doe’s torture.