AFL Soldiers Ready to ‘Deal With’ Threats Concerning War Crimes Court

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AFL CoS Johnson: "Out soldiers are trained to deal with any eventuality."

-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.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Prince Johnson, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, George Boley, AV Kromah, Sekou Conneh, Thomas Nimely and major actors who planned, financed and executed war against defendless civilians must go RECONCILED with the LAW. No man is above….We the victims demand JUSTICE. Justice is peace.

  2. Prince Johnson, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, George Boley, AV Kromah, Sekou Conneh, Thomas Nimely and major actors who planned, financed and executed war against defendless civilians must go RECONCILED with the LAW. No man is above the LAW….We the victims demand JUSTICE. Justice is peace.

  3. All Liberians deserves an open apology from the warlord senator regarding his threats!!! The tribes of Liberia are currently enjoying peace, especially the Gio and Krahn people! All the tribes are currently inter-marrying and doing business together therefore this vile threat needs to be denounce categorically!!!

  4. Well said General. Johnson. Those was the words we was looking for ftom our president but still be silent. Even with the behaviour of the mayor still no words ftom our president and he’s mad why people talking about war crimes court. When the people believed in you, you have to believe in them too to establish facts and trust.

  5. A peaceful Liberia demands accountability, justice, and reconciliation.
    Regardless of your connections to them, those bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities in Liberia must be held accountable. They must not be allowed to walk free! This is necessary in order to begin genuine reconciliation.

    -Bernard Gbayee Goah
    Operation We Care for Liberia

  6. It is sad that such a strategic resource, the AFL, has been called into the fray. The AFL itself, is an alleged and listed war crimes suspect. They should be mindful of the exploitation of its ranks. I disagree that the AFL can handle disturbances in four or more places at the same time. Let us work for reconciliation and peace. The cost of supporting a convicted war criminal is not mentioned in anybody’s speech. Can Liberia afford the minimum of US$23m per person for litigation, support and research?

  7. I pray our AFL Troops are well financed and well trained considering alleged misdirection and misappropriation of our government funds into the pockets of high ranking officials. Right now, it’s a “war of words” between battle-harden rebel leaders and our faithful and loyal troops.

    Rhetoric on both sides in not healthy for the country’s economy and drives away investments. The government should clearly state one way or another on whether they’re pursuing enforcing war-crimes investigation and punishment or not. It should not be an “open-ended” question that leaves us in uncertainly.
    I agree with Mr. Bernard Goah “A peaceful Liberia demands accountability, justice, and reconciliation. Regardless of your connections to them, those bearing the greatest responsibility for atrocities in Liberia must be held accountable peaceful Liberia demands accountability, justice, and reconciliation.”
    But we must NOT let this linger without action by the appropriate branches of government with international support to ensure we have the proper security apparatus to guide us through this process considering our President (who right now is non-committal on this issue) and our legislature (who are ironically actively pursuing charges against an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Charges of “abuse of power” which unfortunately is rampant among themselves, the legislature, and also spread throughout other branches of government) are “on the fence” on this issue.
    Such is our dilemma!!!

  8. Ex-combatants should be offered programs in the Army that will bring their realization that national peace and development is foremost to individual loyalty. The ex-rebels could be exposed to training in camp the need to eradicate tribal and ethnic divide in the Army and if still capable, give options of joining AFL. Civilians still following events and warlords of the past should be fostered with civil courses to train their need to be nationalistic to the Liberian nation for the good of all to forgive the past impunity and develop the nation in factual elected governance. It takes time, but will work. Tell the Country.
    Gone to silent majority.

  9. I sit and reflect on the issue of war crimes court establishment in Liberia. I am a victim of the war and I do understand the need for accountability and justice. I know people were affected by the war in different ways, some having their whole life pattern changed totally as a result of the war. I have been wondering about the recommendations of the TRC and have been urged to ask these soft questions: Is the establishment of the war crimes court the only recommendation?. Are there other recommendations? Have we done our assessment on how much it would cost Liberia- both financial and social, to establish the court and prosecute the people who bear the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during the war? What do we think about the victims? Why are we not talking about the other recommendations of the TRC? How do we compare taking care of the needs of the victims of these crimes compared to for instance, sending the perpetrators to jail?
    In my opinion, the victims remain as victims no matter whether the people who committed the crimes against them are prosecuted or not. I think there is more need to concentrate on what can be done to restore some of the losses of the victims or alternative means of survival. There are many more victims- child soldiers who were recruited either by force or other means, commanded to commit these crimes, some of whom died or loss parts of their bodies who are left unattended to and have even turned to drugs as their only means of survival. There are also others who are still suffering serious psychological problems as a result of what happened to them, even though they are “alive”. We need to concentrate on them- restorative justice. I would think that there is a need for a national reconciliation program during which people who committed crimes against the victims will confess and ask for pardon and this must be followed by programs which will ensure payment of reparation to the victims. Let’s just imagine, if it cost over USD20 k to prosecute one perpetrator, consider for example, prosecuting 100 perpetrators would cost the government not less than USD2 billion. Yes, this is done and all the perpetrators are guilty and go to jail. How is it with the victims? If I lost someone who used to pay my school fees, I am finished.. no school, no future. If I lost my parents and or properties, parents cannot come back, properties cannot come back, I am poor, no means of survival , no future.

    I understand the other side of the coin… people going with impunity. This is wrong; has been happening and happening. Can we think about how we can make our system strong enough so that such things cannot come to pass again. Even if we prosecute and jail the war crime perpetrators now, would it stop the rampant corruption, nepotism, etc. which are going on. Remember, these are the among the major causes of the war which led to the atrocities. Let’s concentrate on how we can deal with the causes of this war and their effects.

    Just my reflection.

    Mike

  10. Mr. Michael Paye,
    Thank you very much. You just explained exactly what I always thinking regarding this War Crime Court issue.
    We need to have strong institutions that will not allow the repetition of such act. We need to have our economy in the hands of our government and Liberians. Our educational system is very messy, some of us have to leave home to come in foreign countries to get better education. Someone is sitting some where pulling this whole string of war crime issue, and the Liberian people once again, being used.

    We need to build better universities that will train our young minds in science and technology. Most of our mining sectors are owned and operated by Indians, Europeans and Chinese. Only because we lack the education to operate them. Some of the writers on this page are talking about JUSTICE. You will never have justice in the 21st century if you are poor and don’t own anything in your own home. The same with slaves in the 1800 century did not have JUSTICE, because they were not participating in the Industrial Revolutions. They were mere servants. If we want JUSTICE, let us educate our people with the right INFORMATION. Information is power, and it is also wealth.
    Let our government nationalized most of our private sectors, and massively invest in quality education to give the citizens the right information that will enable them to participate in nation building. The Capitalist system that was brought to us is only serving the big FOREIGN MONOPOLY CAPITALS, leaving our citizens to sit at the dinning table and eating the left overs.

    So, war crime is not the issue right now, our concern must be quality education for our people, economy empowerment, then justice for everyone. Let no one get me wrong, JUSTICE should be served for everyone, however; no one will ever be served justice if he/she’s poor, and does not have any economy power.
    LOOK AROUND THE WORLD…..and tell me. If we don’t, we are in it for a long walk. Another 100 yeas will come by, and we (our great,great grand children) will be talking the same thing.

  11. Mr. Paye, I really feel for you. Unfortunately, the government has NEVER been compassionate to the PEOPLE. Why?!! The PEOPLE have never demanded it. The PEOPLE are excited about ELECTIONS putting their belief in individuals who was SIMPLY join the PARTY of CORRUPTION. There’s no ACCOUNTABILITY for the just the day-to-day operations of the government. Clean water, health facilities, good education, paved roads to market areas, an agricultural systems that provides most of the people’s needs, etc. Look at your government official’s attitude, the scrambling for wealth and positions, the total disregard just for those basis rights I named. Go along the Lofa coast and see “foreigners, outsiders” extracting our mineral wealth for pennies as long as they put a few dollars in some official pockets. Do you really think the government cares to go beyond those recommendations as long as the “their pockets are filled with ill gotten wealth”. The critics don’t care either. They will criticize President Weah instead of working along with him. Then if and when they get in power, the same thing

  12. Let me be the devil’s advocate here:

    Why is AFL getting into politics? Y’all able General PYJ when push comes to shove?
    If anything, the AFL should ask PJY for guidance and morale building…and training.

    Let’s reconcile and develop our country!

    • Liberia does not need the AFL. Liberia National Police, with a warrant, can walk to the Capital Building and have Johnson arrested without any incident. Hope you will not use the court to plan any coup.

  13. well i will like to say god-jesus christ is great today and just to be walking today is great because his love is upon me . we people of this world need god words in our life because all the things that is happen is all said in the holy book if we just read it and read it we will see and know it is writing

  14. It cost a lot of money to jail an ex-rebel. You got to feed them reboes and buy more instruments to avoid tearing down the prisms when they start fighting in prism.. Leave them to be trained and participate in Governmental activities to fix all that they spoil. They say they can fix the country. Keep the trained soldiers on them so they can fix the nation.
    Use the money to concentrate on the victims of such oppression along side with the ones who have been rehabilitated in the Army. Why did they fight? Was it not because they said the ones in power were not doing the job right? But than you fix the country and clean the nation again before EBOLA and all those sickness come back. Let the crazy ass fighters find something to do when they get high instead looking for trouble. We will no longer spend our money on all kinds of foolish things. Will the crimes tents bring the people who died in the war and the health crisis back? Get busy fixing now before God get vex again. Talk to the people. Do not chat with me.
    Thinking about the lives of my children.

  15. Check the Holy scripts. When some crazy fighters began to reflect the past of their disobedience. God sent his other crazy ones strait to tell them to stop the fight and fix the structures, that which they did destroy. The most high is only asking Liberians to fix infrastructures. Simple to do. We cannot bring back all who died in the war. Only the most high can bring that part of justice back when God comes to judge the living and the dead. Now move on and get to work for the living while keeping all eyes on repentance for braking the 10 commandments. Do not reply me. The Liberian People will be told.
    Gone to silent majority again.

  16. Tell this AFL soldier to go back to camp. The Minister of Defense is the one who is suppose to be the one bringing the message from him and the rest of the nation’s soldiers in camp to the civil population. If he needs to be in civil politics he should take out the army uniform when he comes on our side. By the way, was Elijah Johnson related to the past President Johnson in Liberian History in the frontier force? This Johnson will not fool us. Taking country names cannot suffice, they both are Liberian soldiers. (one became a reboe during the tribal war). Show me one in Liberia who is not related? No matter which Province their great parents settled in when the ship came it to learn the country dialects, they should let Liberians know if they do not know them.
    Do not answer me. All my family are related. Tell Liberians.
    Gone to silent majority.

  17. Family fighting family to control the family line. Security checking on security. Sister wanting to be bigger than big brother. If you cannot take a slap from your small sister or small brother, than who made you the head of the family? Who even made you President? These were Some of the causes of our past Liberian crisis. Man wanting to control the destiny of another man when God is in control and watching. Answer God.
    Gone to silent majority.

  18. AFL solder must still away from civilian conversations. Please go back to the camp. PYJ is right to speak against the TRC. PYJ is the only warlord be ridicules on Facebook, frontpage Africa and the house of representatives. Frontpage Africa is prejudiced against Namibian. However, I m surprised because the New papers owner by a Kahn ethics group.

  19. Many people who are calling for a war crime court to be established in Liberia to punish perpetrators of Liberia’s civil war might had been too young to know how Nigerians peacefully resolved their bitter civil conflict after the infamous Biafra War.

    Despite the atrocious outcome of Nigeria brutal civil war (July 1967 – Jan. 1970) that led to the death of almost one hundred thousand soldiers and close to one million civilian deaths, General Gowon still pardoned major players of the separatist movement by offering them “General Amnesty” for the sake of peace, national stability, and economic growth in Nigeria.

    After the war, General Gowon and succeeding military leaders implemented a peace building process through reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. To consolidate the peace after the civil war in Nigeria, General Gowon famously noted, “There was no victor or vanquished” in the war. In other words, there was no looser or winner in the Nigeria Civil War.

    Proponents for the establishment of war crime court in Liberia can learn from the Nigerian experience: how their leaders managed to solidify the peace and boost economic growth after their brutal civil conflict that could have destabilized Nigeria for a long time after the war. The Nigerians were able to reconcile their differences through a peaceful reconciliation process rather than setting up a war crime court in Nigeria to prosecute perpetrators of the Nigerian civil war.

    I do not think there is any Liberian who was not affected directly or indirectly from our civil conflict. Yes, many Liberians are still angry from the harm and carnage perpetrated by certain individuals on their loved ones, and those perpetrators are now walking freely in Liberia or walking freely somewhere abroad.

    The question is, can Liberians continue to live in a state of perpetual conflict and retributions for crimes committed during the war, or can Liberians seek a similar path to peace, reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation as Nigeria did after their civil war, or just as Rwandans reconciled their differences peacefully after their brutal tribal conflict b/w the Hutu and Tutsi that took almost a million people lives?

    Yes Indeed, Liberia’s newly formed army no doubt is well trained and capable of maintaining the peace in case of internal conflict: but, no one knows what will happen if things get out of hand in the arrest of certain purported war crime individuals which could be perceived by some as selective justice done to certain people of a particular ethnic group; or particular rebel groups, or to people of particular political affiliations to stand trial at a war crime court established in Liberia?

    Do Liberians really want to derail the peace and stifle economic growth by setting up a controversial war crime court in Liberia just to satisfy our Western Partners at our own perils?

    A wise person once said, “If we (Liberians) have not peace within ourselves, it is in vain to seek it from outward sources (the West).”

  20. Don’t waste your time, Mr. Alpha Conteh, Liberian elites always put parochial interests before that of the nation. They are aware of all the history there is to know about alternatives to war crime court including that of Abraham Lincoln’s reconciliatory handling of the American Civil War.

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