PYJ: ‘I’m No Longer Afraid of War Crimes Court’

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Senator Prince Y. Johnson

It is now left to Liberians to decide as to whether the long-awaited war crimes court is established or not, as the strongest opponent against the court’s establishment, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson (PYJ), said he is now open to impartial investigation.

Johnson has on previous occasions branded reports of setting up a war crimes court in the country as a “fiasco,” maintaining that he was a free man and will remain so until the end of his life.

Sen. Johnson made the u-turn on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, on Prime FM 105.5 in Monrovia, and said he is not afraid of any tribunal intended to try perpetrators of the country’s brutal civil war as well as atrocities committed against over 250,000 innocent people who were killed during the civil wars of 1989 to 2003.

He has earlier called for the inclusion of the war “financiers,” naming former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as one of them and an unnamed former official of the United States Embassy in Monrovia as one of the collaborators that supplied his breakaway rebel faction, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) with military hardware, etc.

Sen. Johnson’s appearance on Prime FM came barely 24 hours following his war of words with fellow senator Sando Daozoe Johnson of Bomi County, when the latter took the Senate’s floor to announce that during his constituency break, he spoke with his people in Bomi County, and they expressed displeasure about not only bad governance but also the government’s alleged reneging on creating an avenue for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in the country.

One political pundit told the Daily Observer on Wednesday that Sen. Johnson mustered the courage to face war crimes, because of recent developments in which the International Criminal Court lost its case against former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo for lack of evidence.

Johnson said when former warlord Charles Ghankay Taylor became president, an amnesty was enacted preventing all perpetrators of war crimes and their accomplices from being prosecuted due to “the ignorance of the devastating nature of the war.”

While in session on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, and as a Legislative practice by the Senate, Sen. Sando Johnson was given three minutes to say verbally his experience with his people while on his constituency break; but in a very short moment, a war of words ensued in the Senate chamber when his colleague, Senator PYJ, intruded by questioning Sen. Sando Johnson’s moral ground to talk about the establishment of a war crimes court in the country.

“My persistent comments on the missing L$16 billion are not intended to accuse anyone directly, but we cannot account for not only the L$16 billion, but also the US$25 million [which] government said was used to carry out a mop-up process in an effort to reduce the skyrocketing exchange rate between the two currencies,” Johnson said.

His statement followed the question of accountability, which did not go unnoticed, as PYJ said he (Sando Johnson) should keep quiet when it comes to talking about justice and accountability, because his former boss, President Charles Taylor, had the Central Bank of Liberia at his home rather than anywhere else and that he (Sando Johnson) was a beneficiary of corrupt monies over the years.

In response, Sen. Sando Johnson questioned Sen. PYJ about the billions of J.J. Roberts banknotes he (PYJ) reportedly looted from the National Bank of Liberia (NBL) now Central Bank of Liberia during the war.

He said PYJ looted containers of J.J. Roberts banknotes and transported them through the Bushrod Island to his INPFL base in Caldwell.

According to Sando Johnson, PYJ’s alleged looting of J.J.Roberts banknotes from the bank put him at loggerheads with former National Transitional Chairman, Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, who took the currency out of circulation and replaced it.

“How do we convince our people that no one is responsible for the missing L$16 billion and the US$25 million when lots of government officials, mainly from the Executive branch, are building fabulous homes? This is hard because they think that it is the country’s money the president and his associates are using to build their mansions,” he said.

Sen. Sando Johnson said Charles Taylor is serving a 50-year jail sentence, which should be a good lesson, and that Liberians should ensure that a similar action is  taken against every other perpetrator war crimes committed against the Liberian people and other nationals who fell victim to the civil wars of the 1990s and early 2000s.

“Today, Mr. Taylor is in jail serving his term, and we believe that justice is not meant for one person; all those that were involved in committing heinous crimes in our country must face the same thing,” Sando said as the other members of the Senate cheered.

The exchange of tough words between the two senators reminded other senators present of the common saying that, “If you are in a glass house, do not throw stones, and if you can’t take a blow, do not throw blow.”

The two senators were among a host of other top men who began the Liberian Civil War of the 1990s, along with Charles Taylor, on December 24, 1989, in Buutuo, Nimba County. Four months later, PYJ broke away to form the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).

The INPFL reached Monrovia, their destination, in less than six months and subsequently established a stronghold in Caldwell. The INPFL’s guerrilla operations came under the command of PYJ, who later killed President Samuel Kanyon Doe.

As the row between the Bomi and Nimba counties’ senators continued, Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie immediately called for the adjournment of the session, which signaled the Senate’s first sitting after its annual break.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Very hilarious! No doubt PYJ is a known figure who committed atrocities during the war and the need for him to give account of his actions cannot be over emphasized. I will definitely want to see PYJ and others in the dock telling the world why they did they do what they did. Sando Johnson should not pretend as if his hands are cleaned. During the April 6, 1996 carnage in Monrovia, Sando led group of thugs and rag tag gunmen who invaded the 8th Street residence of Archbishop Michael K. Francis in an attempt to assassinate the late vocal Catholic prelate but unfortunately, the bishop was kept in safety somewhere adjacent to his residence. Under the command of Sando Johnson, his gang of armed men unleashed physical assault on Most Reverend Benedict Dortu Sekey, Bishop of the Diocese of Gbarnga who was in the residence. Not only that, he also instigated the vandalization of then Radio Veritas in Mamba Point. There are uncountable acts Sando Johnson a henchman and close confidant of war crime convict Taylor was connected with.
    It will interest you to know that the massacre of Sam Dokie and members of his family in Gbarnga was coordinated with Sando Johnson, Benjamin Yeaten, and others. There are other accounts that will subsequently emerge.

  2. Bravo to PYJ for agreeing to face the WCC when established. And of course Charles Taylor himself and all who financed the atrocities and carnage in Liberia should be held accountable.

  3. This is a direct advice to President Weah. Liberia will only become peaceful when those who planned, financed, and executed the brutal war against their own people, killing 250,000 and sending millions into compulsory exile are held to account for their actions. Those found guilty should bear the full weight of the law. When these human rights violators are punished, it will serve as a deterrent, and send a signal to all Liberians at home and abroad, that those who engage in armed rebel activities against their own people will have the law to face. Ours is a country of laws. For what good are our laws when they are not enforced? Mr. President, in your oath of office you said that you “solemnly swear that you will uphold, and defend the Constitution of Liberia. So help you God……” This is what you swore God to do. Do it now or God will hold you accountable. Vox Populi Vox Dei (the voice of the people, is the voice of God).

  4. Mr. Prince Johnson has just declared that he is “no longer” afraid….” meaning he was afraid before but now he is not. This human rights violator reminds me of Galatians 6:7 in the Bible which states: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

  5. I have said this before and I will say it again. The laws you talking about were not and are not stay there. So the people who you believe they have gone against the laws that are not yet established, should be accountable for what they have done in the country is very extremely unfair and aggressive. If you establish your war crimes court, you should not hold other previous offenders responsible because there were no laws to guide them against what they shouldn’t have done. Many people are only pushing for such court to be established because of hardship and frustration.

    I am not supporting someone’s wrong doing but if we want to maintain peace and stop reminding people, we should cease taking about war crimes court and it related topics. We all have felt the wars one way or others. However, if we keep bringing bad memories, we will keep frustrating people. We are not fixing the problems but only there to create more problems irresponsibly. We are lucky that people are not dangerous, they would have been causing problems daily. You are not fixing their problems but reminding them every day. Let the government compensate the victims and stop the daily reminders.

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