A war of words has ensued between two Nimba County legislators, Representative Larry Younquoi of District #8 and Senator Prince Y. Johnson (PYJ), over several issues, key among them, the call for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in Liberia.
In an interview with journalists recently in Monrovia, Rep. Younquoi said Sen. Johnson should not have been alive and moving freely among civilians, since he has already accused himself of committing heinous crimes against his own people.
“Sen. Johnson must face the court. If he goes and comes back, it will be good news, but if he is culpable let him remain there,” Rep. Younquoi said.
Younquoi added: “The best place Sen. Johnson belongs is where Charles Taylor is. He is not telling us, his kinsmen, that he regrets whatever he did; so he should face justice. He has caused more problems than good.”
He said it should not be construed (interpreted, understood) by anyone that all the people of Nimba are in support of Sen. Johnson’s not facing justice.
“Nimba is not in cahoots with Sen. Johnson in his efforts to threaten the peace of our country. We are not with him when it comes to making our county a war-like county. Nobody in Nimba will fight for Prince Johnson when he is arrested for war crimes,” Younqui said.
According to him, the Mandingos, Gios, Krahns, and Mano people are united, and are no more at war with each other as it was in the past. Younquoi noted that though the sectional or tribal quarrels were a reality back then, at this time, everyone has learned enough and agreed that it is time to forgo past conflict.
He said Sen. Johnson did not disarm since the war ended in 2003, so he remains a killer who should not be taken for granted by anyone.
“Johnson is not proving anything that he has or is repenting. He cannot live in this country anymore as a civilian. He did not disarm. He was taken to Nigeria as a refugee, and he still has his belligerent force,” Younquoi claimed, noting further that Sen. Johnson has not been refined.
“That is why he talks any kind of way. Johnson has nothing to prove to anyone that he can’t kill. He is the man who killed a democratically elected President. Is there any doubt of his ability not to kill?” Younquoi rhetorically asked.
Younquoi said Prince Johnson lacks good leadership skills. As such, he is always at war with his own actions and people whom he leads.
“Sen. Johnson is divisive. He is responsible for plans to divide Nimba into three parts, but God’s will is always supreme; his plan is only intended for selfish and political gains,” he said.
He called Sen Johnson a coward, who is fond of raising unnecessary alarm and hiding behind a general perception that his actions taken during the war were efforts to defend his kinsmen.
“The war drum he is beating is for him alone. If you say you fought war for your people it is enough. Those people who are coming to investigate will listen. They are not animals. You were just a mere lieutenant in the army. But if you went too far by killing people and mutilated their bodies, definitely you will have to account for the crime,” Rep. Younquoi said.
He raised alarm that his life and those of Sen. Thomas Grupee and Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe have been threatened by Sen. Johnson. As such, there is a need for the government to provide them state security.
“If you are a real leader, you should not be making remarks about knowing the homes of your junior officers unless you have an ulterior motive. He wants to eliminate us. My life is not in his hand, but all I am doing is to expose him. Anything happens to me, the state will be held responsible, because Prince Johnson is threatening people everyday,” Younquoi alleged.
Sen. Johnson, in an interview over a local radio station, said it is good that he is getting to know all those who are talking now. He promised that when there is a crisis, the homes of those currently talking against him will be the sites of visitation.
He said he is not afraid of anyone, and therefore remains determined to challenge anyone who attempts to arrest him.
“If you were to come and arrest me, I will fight you. The same crime you want to arrest me for is the same crime Taylor committed and you awarded him with the presidency. You people sang: “You killed my ma, you killed my pa, I will vote for you,” Sen. Johnson said.
According to him, Liberians paid Charles Taylor and did not stop there, but also rewarded his sponsor, who he claimed was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, with 12 years of the presidency.
However, Taylor’s going to jail was not because of Liberia, it was because of his crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
“You voted Ellen, who said, ‘burn the mansion, and I will rebuild it.’ So it is me, a senator looking for a job, you want to arrest and jail? In fact, do you know how Taylor, my boss, got freed from American prison?” he asked.
According to Sen. Johnson, a law was passed by the 51st Legislature granting amnesty to all warlords from 1990 up to 2003. As such, he and the rest of the others, who played key roles in the war, are immune to prosecution.
“Go grab Alhaji Kromah, all the Mandingo people will rise up; go grab George Boley, all the Krahn people will go against you. Going to catch me in Nimba? You won’t catch me, because the maximum resistance you will receive from young guys will be uncontrollable and ungovernable,” he said.
He said he fought because Nimba was under siege by the leadership of slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe.
“I am a hero for my people, because I fought for them. Our county was threatened, and my people could have been completely wiped out from the face of Liberia, had my men and I not accepted the challenge to face the bullets of Doe and his men,” he said.
PYJ: “Representatives Samuel Kogar, Larry Younquoi and Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe and a host other Nimbaians who are in support of the war crimes court should be ashamed of themselves, because I fought to save their lives.”
“Tiawan Gongloe and others could not use their Nimba names they are using today when there was the heat. They could have been killed at any time. So they are right to say everything they are saying now, but let them be aware that I am marking them, and looking forward to that day when their dream of seeing me arrested shall come. They all will feel the full weight of my camp,” Sen. Johnson said.