The Remains of Ex-Minister of Internal Affairs and Deputy Minister of Labor, Ambulai B. Johnson, arrived at the Roberts International Airport in lower Margibi County last Friday. Top government officials—especially senior members of President Sirleaf’s cabinet led by Minister of Internal Affairs, Dr. Henrique Tokpah – converged at the RIA to receive the remains. Others at the airport were chiefs, elders and family members.
The funeral is slated for Friday, October 14, at the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia.
Former Minister Johnson, a cousin of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her first Minister of Internal Affairs at the onset of her administration in 2006, died in North Carolina in the United States on September 21. He would have reached age 72 this month. According to reports, the late minister lost his battle against cancer.
The remains were taken to the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Home.
The Associate Pastor of the Providence Baptist Church, Rev. Joseph J. Roberts, Sr., in a homily at the Samuel Stryker Funeral Parlor, admonished family members and friends to live their lives for the betterment of humanity and to please God.
He encouraged the bereaved family, Ministry of Internal Affairs, friends and others to take comfort in the Lord as they go through the period of bereavement.
Rev. Roberts described the fallen Minister as a “devoted public servant” whom God had called to his eternal glory.
It may be recalled that while serving as Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister Johnson was forced by President Sirleaf to resign in 2010. This was after Minister Johnson raised eyebrows in political circles as President Sirleaf was planning to contest her second term, when allegations surfaced that he 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.
The Senator revealed that Minister Johnson used a letterhead from the President’s office, claiming ‘By Directive of the President,’ and made financial deals, pretending that they were sanctioned by President Sirleaf.
Minister Ambulai Johnson, the Senator said, 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 as expressing anger over the communication written on the Ministry of State letterhead by Minister Shannon.
The Senator said 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 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 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 recently, many who heard it could only reflect on the events surrounding his resignation in 2010 and President Sirleaf’s bold step asking him to quit.
Meanwhile, the late Minister also served as Deputy Minister of Labor in 1980 and former lecturer at Cuttington College, now Cuttington University, in 1970. He also was a Lecturer at the University of Liberia (UL) in 1980.
Following his death, scores of family, friends and sympathizers attended a memorial service celebrating his life on September 30 in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.