Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson (PYJ) has released a list of prominent Liberians he claimed to have rescued during the early days of the Liberian civil war that have failed to thank him.
During a press conference held at his Capitol Building office yesterday morning, the former leader of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) told reporters that during the civil war, he rescued hundreds of children and mature people from an orphanage home, took care of them, and later turned them over to ECOMOG military authorities.
“Not a day, anyone of those names I mentioned have come to me to say thank you for saving my life at the time the war was raging, but they chose to remain silent making me to look like a devil who did not do anything good to anyone during the war when I saved and served food… to whoever my forces met along the way,” Johnson said.
“In 1992, I then went into exile in Nigeria where I stayed for 14 years,” he added.
The former rebel leader named some of those he rescued as: former Information Minister Peter Naigow; Dr. Theophilus Sonpon (deceased); Dr Cyrenous Ford; former Lands and Mines Minister Jonathan Mason; former National Bank Governor David Vinton and his Deputy Nathaniel Patray; Charles Greene, banker; Dr. Alfred Kulah; Dr. Isaac Wiles; and Peter Bonner Jallah.
He also named Bishop Samuel Reeves; Dr. Varsay Sirleaf (deceased); Archie Sawyer; Mr. and Mrs. Diggs and family; the wife of Bishop Roland Diggs, who was vice chairperson of Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU); and Sekou Damate Konneh, who later became leader of the rebel group, LURD.
Senator Johnson, however, did not disclose the number of prominent Liberians whose deaths he might have been responsible for, including prominent musician Tecumsey Roberts, Fred J. Blay, Roosevelt Savice and a colonel in the former Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Larry Borteh.
Senator Johnson’s concern, according to him, has to do with persistent calls by political actors, who want a war crimes court established in Liberia, and are pushing for certain former fighters to be tried by the court.
Senator Johnson told journalists that God used him as a vessel through which those officials were rescued, but decried yesterday that like the Biblical story about the 10 lepers, none of them are yet to come forward to thank him.
The defunct INPFL leader disclosed that his rebel movement operated based on a blueprint that sought people, including the less fortunate at the Group of 77 on Newport Street.
“We also gave strict orders to our soldiers to protect, defend, and rescue all government officials that surrendered, except those who were arrogant to fight us; we gunned them down; they were also not to kill any soldier who surrendered,” Senator Johnson said.
He disclosed that President Samuel Doe had tempted him to arrest David Vinton and Nathaniel Patray so they could together loot the over L$8 million that was stacked in a container at the Freeport of Monrovia.
“But I refused and instead rescued the two bank officials and kept them at Hotel Africa,” the former rebel general said.
He, however, disclosed that the then president of Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), Dr. Amos Sawyer connived with David Vinton to print new banknotes, signed by Dr. Byron Tarr, who he claimed was nominated, but was not legislatively confirmed. As a result, he said, “I charged them with economic crime.”
In an apparent reference to the international community that is advocating for a war crimes court in some African countries, Senator Johnson said some of those countries went to Iraq and dropped cluster bombs that killed innocent people under the pretext of searching for weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
Senator Johnson pointed an accusing finger at countries that are funding rebel groups in Syria, which they call the “Free Syrian Army.”
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson was prevented by his supporters from taking questions from reporters even though he had earlier expressed his willingness to take at least five questions.
He said people should be thanking him for saving them from the “Goliath” they were running away from, and for the thousands of lives he saved especially when he provide food aid to starving women and children.