Mayor Koijee Considers Lawsuit Against Former TRC Chair for wrongfully linking him to War Crimes
Monrovia –Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee has threatened a law suit against the former Chairman of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Cllr Jerome Verdier for allegedly linking him to the commission of heinous crimes in Liberia.
Mayor Koijee said it is unfortunate for an individual he holds in high esteem to embark on a “smear campaign” aimed at tarnishing his hard earned reputation by associating him with “Liberia’s painful past”.
Said Koijee: “I worked with Jerome Verdier during my days in advocacy when he served as chairperson of the TRC. He knows me very well. He knows my history. He knows that I was one of those young persons who went to jail because of our advocacy for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We worked with the Commission which Jerome Verdier chaired to protect the TRC report despite many attempts by perpetrators of the war to undermine this national instrument. It’s sad that I have now become a major target for Cllr Verdier to the extent he will accuse me of being a participant of the civil war which I know nothing about”.
The Mayor believes the attempt to have accused him of being one of the perpetrators of the 14 years bloody civil crisis indicates that Cllr. Verdier and his likes intend to undermine the TRC report.
“It pains me that people are bent on undermining the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. The nation and partners collectively invested huge amount of dollars in this national instrument. We also put our all in the process to get the report to where it is and as such we will not sit idly and it gets destroyed.” Koijee told Journalists recently at a News Conference in Monrovia.
According to him, in order to save Liberia, people must be held accountable for whatever they did.
No one should walk with impunity for infringing on the rights of other or treating others wrongly, he stressed.
The youthful Mayor noted that if a citizen claims to truly love Liberia as true nationalists and patriots, they will stand above their personal interests and summon a great sense of accountability by welcoming a full implementation of the TRC report instead of trying to bring the entire report to public disrepute.
The establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court, he noted, is an instrument much-needed in Liberia’s flagship democracy.
Mayor Koijee, however, said he doesn’t think that what is being paraded by Verdier linking him to the commission of crimes is a representation of the former Board of Commissioners of the TRC and as such, he wants all the Commissioners including Massa Washington and John Steward to publicly save the TRC report by disassociating themselves from former Chairman Verdier’s accusations against him.
Mayor Koijee wants people like Cllr. Verdier to stop playing politics with the TRC Report, which is a key interest to every Liberian and the international community including him (Koijee).
“My history can be traced from student advocacy to national politics. I am not preventing you from accusing me falsely; all I can say to you is provide the evidences to substantiate your unjustified claims against me. Provide the facts and let the people of Liberia judge me by what you present,” he said.
Mayor Koijee further said he believes that Mr. Verdier he knows very well is being manipulated by others to kill the TRC Report.
He said once Verdier tries to accuse him and such accusation can’t be substantiated then he is defeating the entire report on grounds that others may believe that the report was been drafted on the basic of misinformation and inducement.
“You can’t be attacking a Messenger of the Truth and Reconciliation Report. I am not a secret person to hide any “evil deals” assuming that I was involved. People who are linking us are those who felt that our advocacy for the War and Economics Crimes Court could be undermined by the position we hold in government. They are mistaken, we are who were. I am the same Koijee who advocated for war crimes court yesterday and I am the same koijee who is advocating for war and economics crimes Court today,” he lamented.
The Mayor of Monrovia said he has contacted lawyers both locally and internationally to prepare every legal document to pursuit a case against Mr. Verdier.
Mayor Koijee recently renewed calls for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court while on an official visit in Washington, USA.
Mayor Koijee said the establishment of the War and Economics Court will ensure the prosecution of those accused of perpetrating atrocity during the 14 years of bloody civil war, to ensure lasting peace and social healing.
The Monrovia City Mayor who is also the Youth League Chair of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change pointed out that people who created mayhem in Liberia should be made to account for their actions through the Court of competent jurisdiction.
Koijee is of the strong conviction that the ultimate means to sustaining peace, genuine reconciliation and development in Liberia is through the establishment of the court.
“We must seek to end the scourge of impunity in Liberia by using the law and holding people accountable for their wrongdoings,” Mayor Koijee told Journalists in a live phone interview from Washington.
He lauded President George Weah for making moves that may lead to the establishment of an economic and war crimes court.
President Weah submitted recommendations to the Legislature and sought advice on addressing human rights violations, war and economic crimes committed during the 14-year-long Liberian civil wars which ended in 2003.
Although the Liberian truth and reconciliation commission recommended the establishment of a special court in 2009, that call was never heeded to by the former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf .
Thousands of people were killed, maimed and raped, and children were used as soldiers in the war. Yet over 100 rebel fighters are free and have never been tried in the country. Key actors in the war such as Charles Taylor and rebel leader Kunti K have been indicted or tried outside Liberia.
Mayor Koijee further said Establishing the Extraordinary Court for Liberia is necessary for justice and for the people of Liberia to enhance the healing of the wounds created during such a dark past.