Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has condemned the recent invasion of Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson’s Christ Chapel of Faith in Paynesville, calling on citizens to commit to peace and engage in an issues-based campaign for the benefit of Liberians.
VP Taylor, in a warning message posted on her Instagram handle, said: “I condemned in the strongest terms any form of violence; along with the president, remaining committed to providing a safe and enabling environment for the free exchange of ideas on how to build a better Liberia during the electoral period.”
On Sunday, may 21, 2023, while on the pulpit of his church, individuals wearing party T-Shirts of the ruling coalition for Democratic Change and the National Patriotic Party stormed the premises of Senator Johnson’s church, disrupting the service.
But hours after the incident, the Unity Party accused President George Weah’s ruling coalition of sponsoring the violence at the Senator’s Christ Chapel of Faith.
The Unity Party alleged that the President’s ruling coalition has been 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.”
In her remarks at a program organized by a group called “majority Staffers” of the legislature, VP Taylor said the former Vice President Joseph Boakai’s running mate, Senator Jeremiah Koung, is indirectly making Senator Johnson President of Liberia because Boakai is too old and ill, and might have less time in office.
In response to this claim, Senator Johnson posted on his facebook page that he would respond to the VP’s remarks on Sunday (May 20) with an open invitation to the public to attend the service at his church.
The group apparently took seriously the Senator’s invitation, chanting “war crimes court”, as they entered the church premises. They described Senator Johnson as a murderer, due to his involvement in the 14-year civil crisis and the public execution of former President Samuel Doe.
Johnson, a former warlord, led the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a break-away faction of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, during the early years of the country’s 14-year civil war. Now a religious leader and politician serving the Nimba second most populous county in the country.
Council of Churches Wants PYJ Attackers Prosecuted
The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) in a statement released on Monday 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.
Rev. 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 at 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 the Council engages the relevant stakeholders in nurturing and maintaining the peace during these electioneering periods.