With less than nine months to the holding of the country’s presidential and legislative elections, two presidential aspirants have started trading allegations against each other as to their respective roles at the ECOWAS Parliament.
Montserrado County Senator George Weah yesterday reported how Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson (PYJ) nearly escaped arrest in Abuja, Nigeria.
The two Senators spoke in a phone-in radio program on ELBS’ Bumper Show conducted by the station’s deputy director-general, Patrick Honnah.
Senator Johnson is the political leader of the opposition Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) and is vying for the country’s presidency in the October poll.
He denied the report by Senator Weah that he was arrested when they recently arrived at a Nigerian airport, adding: “I was never arrested in Nigeria as it was rumored in the country.”
Speaking via mobile phone from Nigeria, Senator Johnson said the information is false and misleading, “because I am a member of the Liberian Senate, and a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament,” adding that, “no one arrests ECOWAS members unless they commit a crime.”
Senator Johnson, however, accused Senator Weah, who is also chair on ECOWAS Parliament at the Liberian Senate, for propagating the false information about him.
“We got to the airport, and Weah was ahead of me. While filling in the security form, Senator Weah quickly walked out and misled the ECOWAS protocol awaiting us that I was being arrested, and there was no need to wait for me. This is how they left, and the subsequent information was reported widely that
Senator Johnson was arrested at the airport in Nigeria,” PYJ said.
Senator Johnson noted that his stay at the airport was to only fill in the security form, but he was never arrested.
“I was in Nigeria for almost 14 years and never arrested. How will someone arrest me now? I am popular in Liberia and Weah believes that coming out with such information will discourage my supporters.”
He said he strongly believes that Senator Weah is behind his alleged arrest information, because as a group leader, he refused to wait and ascertain the reason behind his stay at the security desk.
“Weah needed to find out what was happening inside before coming outside. He told the delegates outside that I was being arrested. Some people also informed the public that my supporters in the United States are being investigated, which is false and misleading,” Senator Johnson said.
Clarifying his position on the matter, Senator Weah said he met Senator Johnson at the Kotoka International Airport in Ghana, excited that both Liberian parliamentarians were on the same plane headed for Abuja, Nigeria.
“When we got to the airport, I was traveling in business class and needed to only walk out and my luggage would follow later. While outside, ECOWAS protocol quickly came for us and we left the airport without filling in forms. But Senator Johnson, upon arrival, informed us about being interrogated by airport security,” Senator Weah said.
He said further that Senator Johnson is always questioned at the airport every time he travels to Nigeria for ECOWAS Parliament meetings, that Johnson has failed to explain the situation to the media, but rather complains to ECOWAS Parliamentarians.
“Senator Johnson has complained before that august body that every time he comes, security questions him more and even keeps him for at least 30 to 35 minutes at the airport. No one left Senator Johnson, but rather he had problems there,” Senator Weah said.
Weah said Senator Johnson is trying to make him “look bad as the one who was in the know of what unfolded at the airport between Senator Johnson and the security.”
“Whatever Johnson did in the past, it’s not me to talk about it,” Weah added.
Johnson, who later boasted about his popularity in the country, promised to emerge victorious at the October poll in spite of any political adversary.