Liberia: 500 Men To Protect PYJ’s Church Next Sunday

Supporters of the National Patriotic Party, a constituent member of the ruling coalition, marching towards Senator Johnson Church in Paynesville on Sunday


…. As Council of Churches calls for prosecution of Nimba Senator’s attackers

Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson, has announced that he will gather about 500 men, including Ex-combatants to protect the premises of his church, Christ Chapel of Faith) next Sunday, as he gets prepared to respond to Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and others.

Recently, Vice President Taylor, in response to a petition from a group calling itself the “Majority Staffers” of the Legislature, noted that the “Rescue Mission” selection of Senator Jeremiah Koung is indirectly making Senator Prince Y. Johnson President of Liberia if anything goes wrong with former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai if elected President of Liberia.

Many had anticipated that Sen. Johnson would make a response from his pulpit Sunday, May 21, 2023, at his church in Paynesville but were abruptly cut off when a group of people claiming to represent the National Patriotic Party (NPP), stormed the grounds of his church minutes ahead of his sermon.

The group chanted “war crimes court” and termed the former warlord and now religious leader as a murderer due to his involvement in the Liberian civil crisis and the public execution of former President Samuel Doe.

Senator Johnson, in brief remarks with the media,````````````` said he will officially communicate with the US Embassy and other international groups complaining that President George Weah, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, and others are instigating violence across Liberia as the political election is nearer.

Said Mr. Johnson, “Power is not good for southeastern people. Mr. Weah doesn’t put this country in trouble, we don't want trouble. We love you, but we don't love your system of governance.”

Immediately after the attack at PYJ’s church, the ruling CDC and its main rival, the Unity Party, engaged in a war of words, with the UP accusing the regime of orchestrating and sponsoring the planned attack.

The vicious criticisms exchanged highlight the level of tension that is brewing between the two old foes.  The former ruling party accused the CDC of being very uneasy since Boakai announced Senator Jeremiah Koung of Nimba County as his running mate.

“The Unity Party strongly condemns the disruptive and violent incident that took place during a church service at the Christ Chapel of Faith, perpetrated by thugs of the Coalition for Democratic Change,” said the former ruling party, which is now headed by former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai. 

“It is important to note that the church is led by Senator Prince Johnson, a respected religious leader, and prominent political figure who recently distanced himself from the CDC government due to its failure to implement beneficial policies for the people.”

However, the ruling party, while countering its rival claims, denied orchestrating the violence and accused the Unity Party of engaging in acts of political desperation intended to buy it public sympathy.

The governing coalition added that while the people’s right to assemble is constitutional, it does not condone violence and at no time planned or executed the one at the Senator’s Church.

“The group appeared to be exercising these rights in a non-violent manner. Even Senator Johnson, against whom the protest was directed, did not say in his interview with the VOA following the protest that it was violent,” the party said in a statement. 

Since the official endorsement of the Unity Party standard bearer Joseph Boakai and the subsequent nomination of Jeremiah Koung of the MDR of Senator Prince Johnson, the ruling party and the opposition members and stakeholders have been throwing jabs at each other.

Council of Churches Wants PYJ Attackers Prosecuted

In a statement released on Monday, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) condemned in the strongest terms the actions of the NPP/CDC surrogates, adding that the state must hold someone accountable for disturbances at church. The LCC said the Liberia National Police will be held responsible if nothing serious is done in this case to bring those perpetrators to book to avoid further disturbances.

“Some must be held accountable for the act of hooliganism displayed at the Christ Chapel of Faith before it becomes the new routine for protestors who are thinking of invading other places of worship across the country,” the statement, signed by LCC president Rev. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr, said.

Bishop Reeves therefore called on the LNP and the Ministry of Justice to arrest those who were involved in the barbaric act.

The release noted that these continuous acts of hooliganism must be brought under total control by the Ministry of Justice through the Liberia National Police as the country gears up for presidential and legislative elections.

“We want to condemn attacks on the religious community. Houses of worship are now under threat, and this is unacceptable,” the release said. 

The LCC says situations like these will continue to erode the hard-earned peace Liberians have so ably established over the years if impunity continues to be the order of the day.

The LCC also calls on the National Patriotic Party, from which the group came, to take action that supports the rule of law and non-violence. The Council calls on the Christian community to remain prayerful and peaceful as it engages the relevant stakeholders in nurturing and maintaining peace during these electioneering periods.