MONROVIA : Rumors about the imposition of additional Magnitsky Sanctions on officials of the Weah government had long been making the rounds even before the October 10, 2023 national and legislative elections, but when the United States Department of Treasury on December 8, 2023 placed Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee on its Magnitsky sanctions for serious human rights abuse, the news sent Liberians into a frenzy of mixed emotions, with many being empathetic with the City Mayor over his indictment. However, in a surprising turn of events, Mayor Koijee is taking his situation in good stride, even praising the Almighty, and pledging to fight for the Blue Revolution no matter what comes his way.
“To God be the glory, it is well. Long live the blue revolution. Till death, we’ll remain steadfast in serving the dreams and aspirations of our people. Never broken! JTK,” Mayor Koijee had stated Sunday, December 10, 2023 in a cryptic social media post.
The cryptic remark from Koijee comes against the backdrop of the Department US Treasury designating Monrovia City Mayor and senior leader in the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political party for human rights abuses.
According to the US State Department, Koijee has a reputation for stoking violence and has a powerful grip on Monrovia’s youth.
“He controls paramilitary-style organizations associated with the CDC which allegedly recruits former combatants and recently released prisoners. OFAC has reason to believe that Koijee has instructed these organizations to violently disrupt demonstrations conducted by government critics or political opposition. Koijee and his supporters have been involved in violence in connection with: an opposition rally in July 2022, students attending a memorial service for former Liberian president Amos Sawyer in March 2022, an anti-rape protest in August 2020, a student graduation ceremony in December 2019, and an opposition rally in November 2018. Koijee has also engaged in corrupt acts, including bribery and misappropriation of state assets for use by private political movements and pressuring anti-corruption investigators to halt corruption investigations.
“Koijee is being designated for being a foreign person who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse and for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery pursuant to E.O. 13818,” the US Department noted.
Since his indictment and subsequent cryptic response, Liberians have been speaking out, terming imposition of the Magnitsky sanctions as an orchestration by hidden political hands in the country meant to cripple the Congress for Democratic Change by indicting one of its staunchest partisans.
“You have our unflinching support as always. Remain focused, keep on your right lane and the Lord God will fight your battle. No man is perfect, you are a good person and people often hate your kind but be not worried as the lord is with you,” remarked one ardent CDC supporter.
“The elected Unity Party government is just afraid of this young man. Those lobbyists saying that Koijee has the command of the majority of the youth populations even shows the fact that they are afraid of his leadership. It’s important to focus on presenting facts, evidence, and the truth behind this situation rather than engaging in or being affected by sycophantic behavior. We will stay resolute in highlighting the injustice in the form of sanctions, emphasizing the facts and maintaining the integrity of this young man,” remarked another Liberian who is clearly disenchanted by the imposition of sanctions on Mr. Koijee,” another committed CDCian vented.
“Accusations of human rights violations are a serious matter that demands proper evidence to ensure fairness, justice, and accuracy. Imposing sanctions without sufficient proof sets a dangerous precedent, potentially compromising the integrity of international relations and the well-being of the person involved. Therefore, to maintain credibility and uphold democratic principles, we challenge the US government to provide compelling evidence to substantiate the allegations against Mayor Jefferson Koijee.
“Before accepting allegations of human rights violations, it is essential to critically assess the sources behind such claims. Propaganda, whether domestic or international, can distort the truth and manipulate public opinion. In the case of Mayor Koijee, it is consequential for everyone to examine the veracity of the sources and determine if the allegations against him have been influenced by political or other ulterior motives, something which already exist. This is because the US Department of the Treasury claims that he has a high grip on the vast majority of the young people in this country. The potential for bias should not be underestimated, too. We are demanding concrete evidence to ensure the allegations are genuinely rooted in objective truth, rather than being swayed by external interests and political naysayers.
In any discussion around human rights violations, the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” must be upheld. It is the responsibility of the accusing party, in this case, the US government, to present clear evidence that unequivocally proves the alleged abuses occurred. This transparency is important not only to safeguard the rights of the accused but also to foster an environment of trust and accountability in international relations, especially with the US being a long-standing traditional ally to Liberia. The absence of such transparency risks giving space to arbitrary actions and judgments, ultimately undermining the credibility of the sanctioning authority, the US Department of Treasury,” remarked Alpha Gray of Monrovia.
But while many are seemingly sympathizing with the sanctioned Lord Mayor of Monrovia, some Liberians are equally in support of the sanctions, as seen from their comments.
According to Facebooker Joel Smith, Mayor Koijee deserves what he got. “You did all to yourself Jeff. You should have used your position to build yourself in a positive way by now people were going to be calling you Weah replacement. You got power drunk. Believe me, a few months from now you will have no more friends. I wish you all the best buddy, but you’re in a serious mess.
“You know God? When you guys were abusing power, you thought it was going to be swept under the carpet. All of you guys will be held accountable for your actions,” Momo Johnson vented.