Prince Johnson Must Not Threaten Liberia
Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson is at it again: he’s creating needless panic in the minds of Liberians so he’ll get away with his murderous rampage in the early 1990’s. He had a press conference on Friday (December 4th) to threaten war because it is recommended in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final report that he, along with other warlords, should be prosecuted for the senseless killings he supervised and participated in during the chaos he initiated in Butuo in late 1989, being the first man to kill a Mandingo imam there. (By his own admission during his TRC testimony, Johnson said he was the first to kill a Muslim imam in Butuo with a knife, before taking over the local AFL commandant’s arsenal).
These threats seem to have become a norm with Mr. Johnson; this is perhaps his version of damage control exercise whenever a question is raised about his character. For example, on July 7th this year, the Daily Observer published a story that the US government is wary with Prince Johnson’s threats of war if his name was listed for prosecution for war crimes during the Liberian conflict. According to the newspaper, US ambassador Linda T. Greenfield deplored those comments and urged Gen. Johnson to refrain from such behavior saying “This is time for peace in Liberia and not time for war anymore. Let Liberians forget the past …” He later denied making those comments but said nothing about how he would resist prosecution if charges were brought against him.
For several weeks in late 2007 and early 2008, Prince Johnson repeatedly threatened to restart the Liberian conflict if he was made to testify before the TRC, an exercise he would bow to months later. In one senseless ranting, Johnson threatened with “every force of my body to resist the TRC testimony. My people, the Nimba people, will resist any attempt by the TRC to forcibly have me appear before it (TRC) to explain …” he said in late January of 2008, (see The Analyst Newspaper: February 1, 2008). He’s trying to make us believe that he’s a liberator. In one newspaper interview, Prince Johnson said he’s not a murderer but a “liberator”. That is far from the truth.
He may be a “liberator” for his people of Nimba but contemporary Liberian history is replete with evidence that Senator Johnson is responsible for countless unnecessary deaths during the Liberian conflict. No one can dispute this fact. Numerous families were altogether eliminated by General Johnson. Those people should’ve been alive today to testify to their children and grandchildren if he had protected them and went only after Samuel Doe.
There were numerous peaceful hungry civilians who were summarily executed by General Johnson’s own bullets for what he called “looting”. No courts were ever established in his territories, so he became both the judge and the jury in exercising summary justice. Some of his victims, like songbird Tecumseh Roberts, died only because of who they are. There are credible reports that Johnson executed the singer because he was a gay. Because of the countless he murdered, he couldn’t even remember participating in such murderous sprees. Having executed Tecumseh Roberts, for example, he asked for him two days later only to be reminded by his henchmen that “O, chief, you executed him day before yesterday”.
One of the most egregious massacres by General Johnson took place immediately following the capture of Samuel Doe. Unsatisfied with the number of unarmed people he killed in the presence of ECOMOG, he sent trucks to the Freeport of Monrovia two days later to collect mainly unarmed Krahns who were attempting to flee the country via the Freeport of Monrovia into exile. ECOMOG, in those days, couldn’t stop Prince Johnson from hauling people away to be executed on his Caldwell base. He executed three truckloads of refugees from September 10–15, 1990.
Colonel Larry Milton was sitting on a sidewalk on Carey Street near Snapper Hill one Tuesday evening in March of 1991 drinking beer while a young lady was roasting some fish nearby. Relative calm had returned to Monrovia, then. A dark-tinted Jeep pulled up and a voice said “Larry, Larry”. As the young AFL colonel turned to see who was calling him from the vehicle, a grenade was tossed toward him and fell between his legs. It exploded immediately, killing both Larry and the young lady. Twelve others were wounded. I was yards away from that spot! Prince Johnson was the only person during those days with such vehicles in town. That same week, some market women were shot from a similar passing car on Bushrod Island.
I do not know much about the other warlords because I left the country before most of them came into the theatre of war. But there’s too much I know Prince Johnson did during the mayhem in Liberia. He no longer has the moral clout and charisma to organize any war effort. He is making all this noise because he’s simply embarrassed. Prince Johnson had thought the Liberian people would roll out the red carpet everywhere he went. But not with so much innocent blood spilled on his hands.
As I read the TRC report, I begin to rejoice in my heart that, finally, justice is at hand! The memories of those massacred are precious and, oh how real!
We can still see their faces, hear their laughter, and sometimes even their touch it seems we can feel. The sounds of their voices, the things they’ve said, begging for mercy to be spared.
General Johnson cannot threatene us no more with war. He should and will be prosecuted for his crimes.