Written by Wade C. L. Williams,
|Senator Prince Johnson|
Monrovia – A statement made by one of the Commissioners of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, INCHR about efforts being on the way to forward the names of those who bear the greatest responsibility for the Liberian civil war to the international Criminal Tribunal in The Hague has sparked huge controversy in the country.
Commissioner Thomas Bureh of the IHRC some days ago during a news conference told journalists that those with minor crimes will be the ones to face the palaver hut as recommended by the defunct Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRC.
The commission has come under attack as the result of these statements made by one of the commissioners.
‘Not Clothe with Authority’
Former warlord and Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson, has rubbished the assertions of the Commissioner adding that the institution wants to engage in selective justice.
Senator Johnson says the commission is not clothed with the authority to recommend people for prosecution.
“In the absence of legislative involvement, it is illegal if you try to arrest anybody here, you are opening a Pandora’s box for confusion,” he says.
“If you have any reason to take anybody, it must be on legal ground and not on prejudicial ground, not on political ground.”
The Nimba County Senator speaking to journalists at his capitol building office, accused the commission of using exclusionary tactics to get at people they perceive as trouble makers in the society. Even though he did not accuse the government directly the Nimba County lawmaker asserted that the decision is intended to get rid of ‘native or indigenes’ that are considered potential leaders to clear the way for the elites to continue to rule Liberia.
‘Let sleeping Dogs Lie’
He says he is helping in the rebuilding process of the country and also has brought development and investors; therefore it would be prudent to let sleeping dog lie or follow the due process of law.
“It has to be legally approved, the act that even established the Independent Human Rights Commission did not give it authority to just write directly to The Hague; it is not there,” he says.
Senator Johnson says he has done nothing wrong and if anyone thinks he has he should be prosecuted they should do it legally.
“If it is there, let them go ahead. I have done nothing wrong, the burden of proof lies with the accuser, so I will be willing to go.
Don’t forget to note that the international tribunal is not just a court that is biased; that is just there to seek after people’s imprisonment; they are there to look into cases legally and they will be calling for evidences.
Pointing accusing fingers at President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf he says she should also be prosecuted because she is one of the major funders of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia, NPFL of former warlord turned President Charles Taylor.
“Madam Sirleaf our president and commander In Chief, also confessed that she gave 10, 000 dollars to Mr. Taylor which of course is unbelievable; it could have been more,” says Johnson.
Continued Johnson: “Taylor was not an NGO, he was a rebel leader fighting on the battle field, to redeem this country from dictator regime; if she confessed that and she is heard on the radio and recorded; I have the recording because I was with them. ‘You’ll destroy the mansion, we will rebuild’, and she has confessed that; to come and say well my people I’m sorry I will go to palaver hut, I’m very sorry, I pay 10,000 dollars to Taylor but you’ll forgive me.”
The lawmaker says if former president Taylor can be found guilty for aiding and abetting the war in Sierra Leone then others who sponsored the Liberian civil war should be made to also face justice.
‘Don’t leave sponsors out’
“Since justice is what they want, why leave the sponsors; war has sponsors, it could be ten million because they so much money for example the money they raised for LURD to come was 15million, five million dollars was given to Guinea to Lasanah Conteh, then the five million dollars was used for weapons. All the weapons that were brought here were European weapons; they bought it,” he says.
Continued Johnson: “They sponsored us 85, when we failed and went underground, they sponsored us 89; the issue is that they wanted Taylor to remove Doe then give them power and Taylor said Monkey cannot work baboon draw and then when they saw that Taylor was not yielding to the agreement between them, they now went underground left the country and now sponsored LURD to come and remove Taylor. Taylor hardly got seated in 97 when the attack came from Guinea.”
He also named Harry Greaves former Managing Director of the Liberia, Petroleum Refining Company, Dr. Amos Sawyer, former Interim President, Dr. Boima Fahnbulleh National Security Advisor to the President, and Dr. Richard Tolbert, former Investment Commission Chairman as those who should face prosecution because according to him they crafted and funded the civil war.
Amidst the controversy, about the statement of Commissioner Bureh, the head of the INHRC, Cllr. Leroy Urey has told FrontPageAfrica that the statement made by Bureh does not represent the views of the commission.
During an interview with FPA on Friday, Cllr. Urey says the commission is not clothed with the authority to recommend prosecution for anyone in Liberia even if it has been recommended by the TRC.
‘Influenced by external forces’
He accused Commissioner Bureh of being influenced by external forces adding: “I think Bureh has been tampered with by people in the erstwhile TRC and the international community especially UNMIL. He has received bribes to go on the air in my absence and say what he said to the press. This attitude of Bureh has caused the commission complete embarrassment.”
Cllr. Urey called Bureh a renegade commissioner who has put personal interest above the interest of the country thereby bringing the commission to public disrepute.
“I was out of the country and left my deputy commissioner Boakai Dukuly in charge of the affairs of the commission and he decided to hold a press conference that has caused huge embarrassment to the commission. But we will come up with an official position on the matter” he says.