An Apology to Cllr. Gongloe and the National Bar Association of Liberia (Part 1)

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By Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD

Background

Prince Johnson usually makes bizarre statements. His utterances against Liberians, especially sons and daughters of Nimba County, have always been polarizing. His words have no inkling of civility and decency, forgetting to know that he is an elected leader, and that we expect our leaders to act and behave like honorable men and women.

In the absence of such honor, it becomes necessary not to call such a person honorable, because honor belongs to people who are defined, reformed and refined in thoughts and actions. This is the case with Prince Johnson.

Though Prince Johnson is a Senator of Nimba County, and rightly deserves to be called honorable senator, we will not call or refer to him as a senator or honorable man in this article, because his utterances lack those of a senator and a statesman in the traditional sense of the word.

Case in point is Prince Johnson’s recent outburst and vituperative utterances against Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, a very fine son of Nimba County, who is respected both in and out of Liberia.

The purpose of this article is to extend an apology to Cllr. Gongloe and the National Bar of Liberia.

Discussions

According to FrontPage Africa, November 4, 2019 edition under the caption: “Liberia Ex-Warlord, Prince Johnson Slams Bar Association Head Gongloe over War Crimes Push.”

Prince Johnson stated: “They are stupid, including Tiawan Gongloe, because these damn lawyers under Gongloe’s leadership should have kept mute so that if War Crimes Court comes, and some of us {are} implicated, we will look among them to pick lawyers that will represent us. War Crimes Court will never be established, it is a waste of time.”

Closely scrutinizing the above statement from a man who fought 14 years of civil war and, after the war was over, has not been de-traumatized for rehabilitation, is laughable. How does such a person, known for contradictions, duplicities and inconsistencies, question the sanity of an astute lawyer who has won admiration at the national and international levels?

We the intellectual community in Nimba County think and believe that Prince Johnson is paranoid, disoriented and his judgment in many instances is void of sanity and veracity. It is in this manner, we condemn in the strongest terms his statement against Cllr. Gongloe and the National Bar of Liberia.

Here critically looking at the above statement in quotes by Prince Johnson, clearly demonstrates he does not actually understand what legal representation entails. Prince Johnson claims that Cllr. Gongloe and lawyers under his watch are stupid, because if they were not stupid, they could have kept quiet in case the court in question is established, then some of the Liberian lawyers in question could surface to defend the accused.

Here, Mr. Johnson does not fully understand that Cllr. Gongloe and his lawyers are not that hungry and anxious for money that will prompt them to put their reputations on the line. The issue of War Crime Court is serious, and not children’s play.

Cllr. Gongloe for almost all his life has been advocating for human rights and justice. Even though, according to Forbes Magazine, Prince Johnson is one of the richest persons in Liberia, no amount of Prince’s money can entice, and buy Tiawan Gongloe.

In other words, Cllr. Gongloe is an ethical lawyer who will not just accept any case. There are cases that a good lawyer, knowing the magnitude, will outrightly accept or reject to defend or prosecute. Almost all serious lawyers in Liberia are aware of the roles each of the warlords played during the civil war. Those who are not serious lawyers may choose to accept such representation, because of greed.

What Mr. Johnson seems not to know about Cllr. Gongloe is that he is an honest man, who relentlessly seeks justice on behalf of those, who cannot speak for themselves.

Cllr. Gongloe was in Liberia and saw what happened during the war years. The form and manner in which the war was fought contained blatant violations of the rules of engagement as embedded in the Geneva Convention.

Based on those who have knowledge on the rules of engagement, even former President Samuel Doe, the chief enemy’s treatment, which led to his death, may not have met international standard as it relates to enemy combatants.

In addition, all warlords and some of their militias gruesomely violated human rights. It is these human rights abuses that prompted all civilized people, including those who believe in justice like Cllr. Gongloe, want not just Prince Johnson, but all perpetrators to answer questions before an international arbitration, a body that is honest in adjudications.

We maintain that Prince Johnson’s attacks on Tiawan Gongloe are baseless and self-centered. He seems to have this erroneous notion and believes that Cllr. Gongloe is after him, and not considering his own roles, and how to legally defend himself.

Human rights Violations

The issue of human rights violation is an international matter, and when the international community collectively speaks, it shall surely come to pass except God intervenes.

Bill Clinton, former President of the United States once said to Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, “When we say to Saddam Hussein you cannot defy the will of the international community, we meant it because we have the capability to deny you of the power thereof.”

In the same way, the manner Prince Johnson handles and treats the issue of War Crime Court puts him into the spotlight in the international community. He was not the only one who fought the war in question, but whenever issue of the Court is mentioned, he is almost always the first to speak against the Court.

We wonder whether he has been elected or selected spokesman for the group of warlords, or simply he wants to show his might. Here we respectfully maintain: Mr. Johnson, there is no display of might when it comes to international community and its collective decisions.

Consider the quote above by former President Clinton; certainly, Saddam Hussein is no longer in Iraq. You were a soldier and your commander, who later became President was Charles Taylor. Charles Taylor is in a British maximum security prison for 50 unbroken years. Mohammed Gaddafi, Libyan President, who sent, fed, trained and equipped you, Taylor and others as bush fighters, is not in jail but dead.

From these examples, one can extrapolate that no one can militarily and politically challenge the international community because, according President Clinton, the international community has the capability to deny anyone of the power thereof. We beseech Mr. Johnson to approach the issue of the War Crime Court with legality, void of threat and combat.

On another serious note, Mr. Johnson seems to challenge President George Weah, which is not a wise thing to do. The Coalition of President Weah seems to protect all collaborators, but Prince’s recent outbursts and utterances may be a challenge to President Weah.

While the President is maturely handling the issue of the Court, Mr. Johnson is challenging him that no matter what, there will be [no] War Crime Court in Liberia.

Here, we want to let Prince Johnson know that, as the issue of the Court stands, God first and President Weah final in making decision, certainly not Prince Johnson.

The Lower House overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of the Court, and the Senate may act likewise. When that is done, President Weah will be forced to act or face international wrath.

The people of Nimba County need to tell Prince Johnson to learn to keep quiet, assemble his international legal team since lawyers in Liberia are “stupid.”

Conclusion

Mr. Johnson over the years has made us to think and believe that he is a man of God, who usually hears from God. In our opinion, such a “man of God” must be upright in actions and deeds. Words that come from his mouth must be decent and anything on the contrary is a conduit for the world to speak against the Church, of which Christ is the head.

As intellectuals of the Great County of Nimba, we sincerely beseech Cllr. Gongloe and the great men and women of the National Bar Association of Liberia to forgive the ignorance of Prince Johnson. We, and on behalf our County, sincerely apologize and humbly ask you to forgive Prince Johnson’s unorthodox utterance as a senator.

About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds two Master and a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Oklahoma. He formerly served as a Deputy Minister of Education and a Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, Membership with the Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected]

2 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Dahn,

    Did Nimba County give you the authority to speak or apologize on it behave?
    Or do you want to show that you have 2 master and 1 doctorate degrees?

    Please, give your position and opinion on the topic. Don’t speak for Nimba County. No one person or legal entity in Nimba gave you that authority.

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