Prince Johnson Threatens To Go After War Crimes Court Advocates; Vows To Resist Arrest In An Uncontrollable And Ungovernable Fashion

Former dreaded rebel leader now Nimba County Senator, Prince Yulu Johnson has threatened to go after those advocating for the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia, indicating that any attempt to arrest him for crimes he’s alleged to have committed during Liberia’s fratricidal crisis that took away approximately 250,000 lives, will be met with the stiffest of resistance in uncontrollable and ungovernable proportion.

Of recent, both locally and internationally, call has heightened for the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia, to bring to justice those suspected of perpetrating heinous crimes during the country’s war years.

Liberia went up into flames for over a decade, resulting to the wanton destruction of lives and properties, including the death of approximately 250,000 people and the displacement of thousands others, when a bloody civil war engulfed the country on Christmas Eve in 1989, after rebel forces under the command of jailed former Liberian president Charles Taylor shot their way into the country through Buutuo, in Nimba County.

Prince Johnson, who was initially part of Taylor forces, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), later broke away from that brutal ragtag army and founded his Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), who like it’s parent-group, stand accused of murdering thousands of Liberians, including former president Samuel Doe, who was captured by Johnson’s forces, tortured, mutilated and murdered.

‘Johnson issues threats’

“Those who talking, talking, it’s good you’re talking so we can know you – so the day trouble comes here, which we don’t pray for, your home, there will be a visitation there,” referring to advocates of war crimes court for Liberia, former rebel leader Johnson said in an audio recording Punch FM/TV online service has acquired.

Infamously credited with the capturing, torturing, disfiguring and murdering of ex-president Doe, Johnson, who is also accused of taking several Liberians including renowned Liberian musicians Robert Toe and Tecumsey Roberts, to their early graves during the brutal Liberian civil war, in a rather defiant tone of voice said: “if you were to come and arrest me, I will fight you.”

Johnson explains that the basis of his resistance against war crimes charges is due to what he called Liberians’ negligence in failing to have prosecuted former presidents Charles Taylor and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who he said committed the same crime that is being alleged that he committed.

Following an investigation that sought to unravel the causes and consequences of Liberia’s conflict, Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) collected more than 20,000 statements and released a 370-page report, in which Sirleaf is among 50 people the Commission recommends should not be allowed to hold public office, a recommendation the former leader flouted while in power.

In her testimony when she appeared before the TRC, Sirleaf admitted that during the early years of the war she supplied Taylor with food and financial assistance in the tune of some US$10,000, stating at the time that she wanted to see an end to the tyrannical regime of slain former president Samuel Doe, adding that she did so unwittingly.

But according to the TRC, Sirleaf didn’t go far enough, by showing remorse for her role in the war, with the TRC indicating that by not apologizing or showing more remorse, Sirleaf denied both her own responsibility and undermined the TRC process.

The TRC report also recommends that dozens of individuals who bear greater responsibility of the war should face further investigation and prosecution, but since then, in spite of recommendations from the TRC final report presented to former president Sirleaf, not a single Liberian has been prosecuted for alleged atrocities committed during the war days.

Said Johnson to Liberians: “You see, you will be doing wrong if you were to come and arrest me. You know why? The same crime you want to arrest me for, [the same crime] which was alleged against me, is the same damn crime that Taylor committed when you said “you killed my ma you killed my pa I will vote for you.” You compensated Taylor with the presidency. You paid Taylor to be the president of Liberia. His going to jail is not because of Liberia, it is because of his involvement in Sierra Leone.”

Johnson continued: “Then after Taylor, … your compensated Madam Sirleaf for 12 years. Then, I’m a senator looking for job to be your leader you’re talking about war crimes court, come catch me!

“Selective justice”

The former dreaded warlord claims calls being made for him to be charged for war crimes is a show of selective justice, intimating that former president Taylor was his boss and ex-president Sirleaf his financier, and the pair were never prosecuted on account of their involvement in the carnage in Liberia, but were instead elected to the presidency.

“I’m just saying, the injustice, the selective justice – Taylor is my boss, how did he get free from an American maximum prison? Ellen is my sponsor, your paid them to be president. My people believe I’m a hero when the others think I’m a devil, said Johnson, who noted that  when his kinsmen were being killed, he stood up for them.

He averred that those advocating for the establishment of a war crimes court are doing so in ignorance of the laws of the country, stating that as a sovereign state, the National Legislature enacted a law granting amnesty to perpetrators of heinous crimes covering the period 1990 to 2003.

“So if you want to repeal that law or amend that law or throw the law away to impose your will on us, then you will have a crisis on your hand in this republic that you will regret,” Johnson said, adding, go grab Alhaji Kromah, all the mandingoes will rise up; go grab George Borley, all the krahns will rise up; go catch Prince Johnson – you won’t catch me, you won’t even catch me, because the resistance you will find from young guys, it will be maximum, uncontrollable and ungovernable.”

“Not afraid”

Johnson says he’s not afraid, “but the fact is that we all must understand why we had to fight.”

“As Nimbaians, we know very well that we were under siege. Our county was under siege by the Doe regime. We have audio report, we have video report where you see Nimbaians must leave their county or they will never be seen again, we have those reports,” Johnson further said.

Johnson recalls those days as bitter days in the nation’s history, pointing out that citizens of Nimba had to be finding sanctuary for fear for their lives, as being identified those days as a Nimbaian would cost you your precious life.




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