Sharp reactions from the public continue to trail the threat by Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson against Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and other members of Liberian senate for tabling for discussion, the need to establish a war and economic crime court in Liberia as a measure of checkmating war criminals and people who are put in charge of public funds. Some of these reactions emanated from a group of activists who called on the Senator to “shut up”, and stop defending wrongs he did during the civil war of Liberia.
The public reactions come in the wake of a walkout action by Senator Johnson at the instance of call by Senator Dillon during a senate session for the establishment of war and economic crime court in Liberia as a measure to curb impunity in the country.
In reaction to the call by Senator Dillon for the curbing of impunity through a war and economic crime court during the session, Senator Johnson, a former Field Marshal and leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) referred to Senator Dillon as a ‘gay boy’ and promised to “turn the table” against Senator just as Jesus turned the table of those who were selling in the synagogue. I will turn your table, fury Johnson promised Senator Dillon.
But many people who voiced out their minds on the threats by the former rebel leader roundly condemned the Senator Johnson for making such threatening statement against opinions expressed by his colleagues, and termed the action by the Nimba County senator as provocation which is tantamount to breeding chaos and violence in the society.
Speaking shortly after watching a footage from the capitol building in which the Nimba County law maker expressed his fury, Mr. Marcus Sonpon, a retired Teacher said he was taken aback that Senator Johnson would knowingly contradict himself about taking arms to defend the people of Nimba and at the same time doing things to deny the very victims from Nimba from seeking justice.
“Granted his action was right to take up arms to defend the people of Nimba; but why is he stopping the same people who were victims from Nimba from seeking justice? Why should he stop the survivors of the Lutheran Church, the UNDP compound, the JFK massacres from knowing who the perpetrators are? Doesn’t he know that it is only through the war crime court the truth will be unveiled and perpetrators punished?” Mr. Sonpon asked.
Following the same line, Mr. Soe Tubor, a former worker at LAMCO, who claimed his uncle who hails from Nimba along with his two sons were killed by the Liberia Peace Council (LPC) said Senator Johnson seems to be a major obstacle against him and his family from getting to the root of finding those who killed their loved ones about 25 years ago. “I can’t understand his logic!” he exclaimed.
Mr. Tubor further said “We know he fought for us and we are grateful for that, but what he is doing now to stop us from knowing who killed our loved ones about 25 years ago is out of place. We need this court to come so that we can have full closure.”
A group calling itself, Committee for the Actualization of War and Economic Crime Court in Liberia described the threat by Senator Johnson as a complete joke that cannot save him from facing trial to account for all the evils he did during the war.
“Johnson killed innocent people, some of whom were in the fold of his INPFL and turned around to ask for the same people as though he was insane,” the leader of the group, Emmanuel G. Wonteey said.
The group condemned in its strongest term, the unfortunate development that took place at the Liberian senate last week when the fury of Senator Johnson could not disallow him from issuing diabolical threats.
“It is a complete joke for Mr. Johnson to think that he can ever re-invent our ugly past where he was a prime factor. He must get ready to face the war and economic court. No amount of threat can stop this from happening”, the group said.
A radical cleric who also spoke on the condition of anonymity told this paper that he finds it comical for Senator Johnson to be using the pulpit to deceive the people by justifying all his dirty deals perpetrated during the war.
“Is he really a pastor? Well, we leave that between his creator and him; but this is like blasphemy. You can’t use the anointed place of God to justify the killings you were involved with during a deadly and fratricidal civil debacle,” the cleric said.
The cleric maintained, “I just listened to him on a video from his Church last Sunday and he almost repeated what he said or did last week at the Capitol Building. That is very shameful.”
With reactions and condemnation pulling on Senator Johnson, it appears that the last cry for the establishment of the war and economic court is getting unabated.
It all started when what should have been one of the usual happening in the plenary of the Senate on Thursday, May 13, 2021 turned out to be rowdy and Senator Prince Yormie Johnson walked out of the entire plenary protesting what he called an attack meted out against him by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.
According to video footages from the proceeding on that day, which has since gone viral, one of the main items on the agenda for discussion on that day was to deliberate on the report of the outcome of the stimulus package meant for distribution for the citizens to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
Senator Dillon, who for some time now has been raising a lot of issues around the scheme, rose up and called for punitive actions against those found wanting in the alleged corruption and controversies that continue to trail the distribution. In his argument, Dillon said the War and Economic Crimes Court would be the only remedy to put in measures for people who mismanage public funds.
“If we sincerely want to bring to check public officials who mismanage public funds we need to establish a war and economic crimes court”
Dillon’s suggestion annoyed Senator Johnson and who walked out from the proceeding, calling his colleague’s submission an attack on his character.
“Every time Senator Dillon sees me is when he talks about war crimes court,” Sen. Johnson said.
Senator Johnson who was obviously and visibly furious while speaking to the press and walking out of the chamber went further to state some of the reasons he took up arms during the war: “What happened during the civil war was a revenge for our people who were killed in Nimba. Nimba county was declared enemy of the state; what did you expect us to do?” he asks rather rhetorically.
The Nimba lawmaker didn’t mince words to state what he has in store for the senate whenever any of his fellow lawmakers decide to bring out the issue of war crime court again in session:
“If you want to bring war crimes court, bring your damn war crimes court. They always think war crimes court is about Prince Johnson. There are legal processes to bring a war and economic crimes court. I am a preacher, the Bible says Jesus turned tables outside down and I will turn Dillon’s tables outside down the day he mentions about war crimes court,” Senator Johnson said
These threatening statements of Senator Johnson are not new. On several occasions in the past, he has told anyone that cares to listen that he did no wrong to anyone because his decision to take up arms was to defend his people who according to him were being killed and tormented by the former president, Samuel Kanyon Doe, whom he captured and tortured to death in September, 1990.
He prides himself as the Godfather and liberator of Nimba County and as such the people of Nimba will not sit down supinely while he is being discussed to be taken to the war crime court when it is established. “Go grab Prince Johnson, you won’t be able to even come close. You won’t even catch me because the resistance you will receive from young guys will be maximum, uncontrollable and ungovernable,” Senator Johnson once told his congregation at the church he pastors in Monrovia.