In the wake of massive pressure from local and international Liberian and other activists for the implementation of the recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) including the establishment of war crimes court for the prosecution of those identified as responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the West African country’s devastating civil war between 1989 – 2003, a disturbing video has surfaced on social media showing a former warlord and current Senator Prince Y. Johnson interrogating and brutalizing the wife of a former Liberian Defense Minister General Gray Allison.
The grainy video which was apparently shot by an unknown person at the Caldwell rebel base of the former rebel leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL),perhaps during the period of the war, shows Johnson angrily accusing Ms. Watta Allison of being knowledgeable about the military invasion on August 12, 1984 of the campus of the University of Liberia(UL) on the direct orders of military junta leader and former President Samuel K. Doe.
The order to the then army commander General Allison, a former Defense Minister in the Doe Government was conveyed to students that “they move or be removed”. The brutal military invasion resulted in numerous student deaths, rapes, the closure and subsequent dismissal of the entire Administration of the University of Liberia at the time headed by the late Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman. No official death counts were ever verified following the invasion.
Students at the state University were demanding the release of former College Dean and Professor Dr. Amos Sawyer and Professor George Klay Kieh, also a political science lecturer who were in detention and charged with serious crime of “high treason”.
On the 55 second video, the wife of the late General Allison is heard denying that she was aware of the University campus invasion. She tried to explain a number of times to Johnson who sounds angry and is seated at a desk dressed in blue top that she only heard of the invasion while she was in the U.S.
“Mr. Johnson, to my Holy Communion, to my family… my children I took nine months… I did not know anything. It’s just a plot to get… to kill Gray. That’s all those people planned it to kills Gray…”Ms. Allison is heard saying to Johnson.
The rebel leader Johnson is then heard asking Ms. Allison, “…But you agree that Gray went to University of Liberia?” Ms Allison responded, “I was not here…” Johnson interrupts her, “But you heard it?”, She tried to explained saying, “I was sick; that’s what I’m trying to tell you…”
Johnson is then seen lunging and striking Ms. Allison who is off camera and to his left, accusing her of being a “lier”. Ms. Allison is then heard apologizing to Johnson.
Social media is in uproar at the rather hard to watch video with some posters calling for Senator Johnson to be prosecuted for his role in the Liberian civil war.
At program in March, 2018 to mark the successful end of the UN Mission in Liberia which began in September, 2003, the Deputy UN Secretary General Madam Amina Mohammed told the Liberian government that peace would “remain fragile as long as people feel excluded from the economic and political life of the country, and as long as corruption undermines confidence in institutions”, a apparent nudge to the government to implement recommendations of the TRC Final Report.
The TRC completed its work and submitted findings to the Government since 2009.
President George M. Weah has refused to commit to any implementation of the TRC Report, saying this is not a priority for his government and no one has faced prosecution for atrocities committed during the civil conflict.
Johnson is responsible for the capture, torture, killing and mutilation of the body of former President Doe in September, 1990 on Bushrod Island, the western suburb of the Liberia capital Monrovia. Johnson has defended his role in the Liberian civil war as a “liberator” and says he will not submit to prosecution.
Senator Johnson is one of many war actors hooked by the country’s and Reconciliation (TRC) Final Report. In section 12.3 titled, <strong> Names of Those Responsible (Perpetrators) Recommended for Prosecution</strong> Johnson is named as leader of the INPFL.
Others recommended for prosecution include now jailed former National Patriotic Front (NPFL) leader and Former President Charles Taylor, late General Roosevelt Johnson of ULIMO/ULIMO-K, Alhaji Kromah, ULIMO-K, George Boley of LPC, Thomas Yahya Nimley of MODEL, Sekou Damate Konneh of LURD and the late Francois Massaquoi of LDF.
The former Liberian warlord turned evangelist told members of his Faith Chapel Ministries Church at a service in August, 2017 that, “…Liberia had conflict that lasted for 14 years when brothers turn against one another in a brutal arm conflict, but the war is over, it is time to rebuild our nation.”
“I am the servant of God whom he took from the battlefield and cleansed with his blood, to stand here before the people of God to proclaim his gospel.”
Johnson who hails from the sub-political division of Nimba County in northeastern Liberia is a senior Senator. In the 2005 general elections, Johnson contested and won a Senate seat to represent his people. He is a former chairman of the Senate’s Defense and Security Committee.
He is leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) political party and threw his support behind the George M. Weah led Coalition for Democratic change which defeated the ruling Unity Party in recent Presidential and General Elections in Liberia.
Johnson is accused of the subsequent execution of Ms. Watta Allison.
By Emmanuel Abalo
West African Journal