Ex-Internal Affairs Minister Ambulai Johnson Is Dead

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Mr. Ambulai B. Johnson, a cousin of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and her Minister of Internal Affairs in 2006, has died in North Carolina in the United States. He would have reached his 72 by October this year.

He served as Deputy Minister of Labor in 1980 and former lecturer at Cuttington College now Cuttington University in 1970. The late Johnson also lectured at the University of Liberia (UL) in 1980.

Reports reaching the Daily Observer and confirmed by relatives yesterday, said Mr. Johnson lost his battle with cancer.

It may be recalled that during President Sirleaf’s first term, Mr. Johnson served as her minister of internal affairs but was forced to resign in 2010. At the time (2010) Mr. Johnson raised eyebrows in political circles when Presidential Sirleaf was planning to contest her second term and allegations surfaced that Mr. Johnson was involved in misrepresentation and had mismanaged in excess of US$1 million Nimba County’s Development Funds. The revelation was made by Senator Prince Y. Johnson, (Nimba County) who was then an independent candidate.

Senator Johnson further revealed that Minister Johnson used a letterhead from the President’s office, claiming ‘By Directive of the President’ and went into financial deals, pretending that they were sanctioned by President Sirleaf.

Prince Johnson also revealed that Johnson forged a letterhead from the Ministry of State and along with the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Dr. Eugene Shannon, allegedly “played in the money” provided by Mittal Steel. Mittal Steel was to pay to Nimba County US$6 million over a four year period that would amount to US$1.5 million a year for the use of Nimba County’s resources.

However, Sen. Prince Johnson revealed, only US$5 million was deposited in Nimba County’s coffers at the time but could not state the whereabouts of the remaining US$1 million.

Senator Johnson meanwhile quoted President Sirleaf expressing anger over the communication written on the letterhead of the Ministry of State by Minister Shannon.

The Senator told journalists at the time that “The involvement of Minister Johnson in our money is discouraging, and disappointing. I have been to the President’s office on several occasions on this matter, appealing to her to intervene but nothing has been done, and [Ministers] Johnson and Eugene Shannon (are) just playing with the money.” President Sirleaf’s apparent initial inaction against Johnson and Dr. Shannon, brought a lot of embarrassment to the administration, according to reactions at the time, when it was also revealed that Mr. Johnson had built a mansion on Robertsfield Highway and also bought a Jaguar, a luxury vehicle.

As Johnson’s iniquities increased, President Sirleaf had no choice but to request her cousin to resign, which he did and the President accepted with relief, despite the embarrassment. Many said her decision won the President considerable support that greatly increased her chances for winning her second term in office.

When the death news hit Monrovia on Tuesday, many who heard it could only reflect on the events surrounding his resignation in 2010 and President Sirleaf’s bold step of asking him to quit the job.

Up to yesterday there was no official announcement of Mr. Johnson’s death and family members spoken to could not make any comment about information concerning his funeral arrangements.

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