“We are peaceful citizens who are worthily contributing to the growth and development of post-war Liberia, to the extent that many of the towns and villages destroyed during the country’s civil crisis have returned to their pre-war status.”
The speaker was evangelist Prince Y. Johnson who yesterday angrily reacted to a recent newspaper report stating that “all citizens in Nimba County were manufacturing arms in the county.”
Senator Prince Y. Johnson (PYJ) chairs the county’s Legislative Caucus. He is also a born-again Evangelist preaching the Gospel with special emphasis on the peace and stability of the nation.
In his strongly worded reaction given in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer yesterday, Senator Johnson termed the report as “diabolical lies against peaceful Nimbaians, intentionally (manufactured) by agents of the devil to tarnish the good reputation of the citizens of Nimba County.”
Senator Johnson, however, commended President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her regime’s tolerance of press freedom, but added, “This freedom has often been abused by agents of the devil who conceived evils against the state.”
“The report of this newspaper is intended to scare away investors and paint citizens of the county black in the eyes of other Liberians and the international community. “They are doing this because Nimba is [endowed with immense resources and investment opportunities], PYJ said.
In its Wednesday, May 27 edition Vol. 3, No. 199, a local newspaper (not the Daily Observer) quoted the chairman of the Community Watch Forum, Isaac Nyenati Kaffey, as alleging that citizens of Nimba County are presently involved with the production of arms in the county.
According to the newspaper, Mr. Kaffey allegedly told a reporter of the paper that small arms being used by armed robbers in various communities have been produced in Nimba County. He did not say specifically in which part of the county the arms are being manufactured, but insinuated that citizens of the county are involved in the mass production of firearms.
Based on that assertion by Mr. Kaffey as reported by the newspaper, Senator Johnson challenged the national security apparatus to compel Mr. Kaffey to locate the site of the manufacturing plant where the arms are produced, and directly identify citizens that he claims are involved in the arms production.
“This is not just about Nimba,” the Senator insisted, “but the allegation undermines the security of the state because this allegation is baseless, since Mr. Kaffey of the so called Community Watch Forum did not indicate the exact location of the manufacturing plant, nor could he identify any one of the citizens who is involved with the deal,” Senator Johnson added.
Nimba County, he said, is in the north-central portion of Liberia. It is one of 15 counties that comprise six districts the first-level of administrative division in the nation. Sanniquellie serves as the capital with the area of the county measuring 11,551 square kilometers (4,460 sq mi), the largest in the nation. The 2008 Census put the population of Nimba County at 462,026, making it the second most populous county in Liberia after Montserrado County.
With this geographical description of the county, Senator Johnson wants to know, in which part of the county is the manufacturing plant located. He also wants to know the specific number of citizens involved in the arms manufacturing, since the writer of the article quoted Mr. Kaffey as saying that Nimba citizens were manufacturing arms.
He then wondered what Mr. Kaffey was thinking about when he made such an unsubstantiated claim against the peaceful people of Nimba without citing any proof of his allegation.
Meanwhile, Evangelist Johnson has challenged authorities of the various security agencies to seek further clarifications from Mr. Kaffey about the reasons for his “baseless allegation.”
“Why would anyone want to manufacture arms in Nimba? What is the reason and who those behind the idea, if any are?” he asked. Senator Johnson wants national security to probe the report and make the findings public to shame those that are undermining the peace and stability of the country.
Nimbaians, irrespective of status, he said are “peaceful and hard-working, whose only thought is to see the county and the country developed, but not destroyed.”
Himself, a former leader of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia; a rebel sprinter group opposed the leadership of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), captured former President Samuel K. Doe, and tortured him to death.
He is now a senator and Evangelist heading the newly constructed Chirst Chapel Church in Monrovia.