-Chief of Staff Assures
The Chief of Staff (CoS) of the Armed Force of Liberia (AFL) on Friday, November 23, assured citizens and foreign nationals that soldiers would at all times be ready to deal with any war threat in the aftermath of the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in the country.
General Prince C. Johnson, III, gave the assurance in response to concerns raised by citizens regarding security threats issued by former warlord, now senator of Nimba County, Prince Yormie Johnson (PYJ), when he appeared at a local radio station, promising to fight anyone who would attempt to arrest him for prosecution by the war crimes court.
In his response, Gen. Johnson (no relation to the senator) did not mention any name, but said statements of threat in so-called “self-defense” was a “big mouth talk,” adding, “Nobody can reverse our gains to peace, because we are trained to deal with any security threat, whether issued by former warlord or whoever.”
“You can depend on us for your protection against all of those threats. This is just empty big mouth some of those listed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are making; don’t mind their so-called threats on the radio,” Gen. Johnson assured his audience at the one-day Security and Public Town Hall Dialogue held under the Wilfred E. Clark Lecture Series.
The dialogue, which brought together personnel of security agencies and members of civil society organizations (CSOs) was organized by the Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LNLEA) and was held at the YMCA building in Monrovia.
The dialogue, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), was intended to provide an avenue for the country’s security agencies to gauge issues, concerns and expectation of the public on how to hold security actors accountable for misconduct and how to enhance the rule of law.
Gen. Johnson informed the gathering that none of those former rebel leaders can disturb the country’s peace with threats of instability, “not knowing that the soldiers are trained and ready for any eventuality.”
“Our soldiers are ready and prepared to ensure your safety, only if we were to be called upon by our government for support by arresting any of those that would be wanted by the court, if established,” the Chief of Staff warned.
He added, “Our intelligence is that those accused of committing heinous war crimes have brain-washed their perceived supporters to defend them just in case of arrest; but mind you, the soldiers are ever prepared to deal with those so-called threats.”
As though the soldiers were in the proximity to effect any arrest order, Gen. Johnson informed the gathering that soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia, under his direct command, cannot deal with the threats in the absence of civilian cooperation. As such, he called for a collaborative effort to expose whatever hidden agenda those threatening the country’s peace may have.
“We cannot do the job alone, and so we are depending on your cooperation to deal with any future threats,” Gen. Johnson said.
It can be recalled that in recent radio interviews, Senator Prince Johnson threatened to fight anyone who dares come to arrest him for crimes he might have committed during the war, adding, “I am not afraid of anyone, and, therefore, I remain determined to challenge anyone who attempts to arrest me.”
Sen. Johnson said it is good that he is getting to know all those who are talking now. From that point, he promised to deal with those he has already identified when crisis should erupt, “because the homes of those currently talking against me will be the sites of visitation.”
According to Sen. Johnson, a law was passed by the 51st Legislature granting amnesty to all warlords from 1990 up to 2003. He therefore believes that he and others, who committed atrocities the war, should be exempt from prosecution.