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– As CDC denies the accusation

By: Jerromie S. Walters

Prince Y. Johnson, Senator of Nimba County, has expressed concern over an alleged covert attempt by members of the CDC government to assassinate him.

The religious edifice of a former warlord, now politician and cleric, Prince Y. Johnson, was a horrific scene for his comfort, his members, and guests as well, as a group that claimed to be the youth wing of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) stormed the church and disrupted normal activities.

The NPP, led by ex-Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor, is a constituent party of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and it is currently headed by Taylor’s former wife and current Vice President, Jewel Howard Taylor.

On Sunday, May 21, 2023, during the normal worship service of the Christ Chapel of Faith Church of Senator Prince Y. Johnson, young people believed to be members of the “NPP Youth Wing’, dressed in their NPP and CDC regalia, holding banners and placards, and chanting anti-PYJ slogans, stormed the church’s compound with singing, which apparently disrupted normal service.

They chanted war crimes court slogans and left Senator Johnson and his wife stranded for some time in the church’s compound before leaving.

Senator Johnson left the pulpit and went out, but after an attempt to calm the crowd down failed, he was asked by church members to go back to service.

The group said they had gathered to protest against Senator Johnson’s “planned outburst against Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, as well as his continued misuse of the pulpit to denigrate President Weah and his officials.”

VP Howard-Taylor recently warned Liberians that a victory for the Unity Party’s standard bearer, Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and his running mate, Senator Jeremiah Koung, in the October polls, might land Senator Johnson the presidency.

VP. Howard-Taylor said it is an open secret that the former Vice President has a fragile health condition, and if elected president, he might die in office. And when that happens, Senator Prince Johnson will run the show instead of Senator Koung, who is being dubbed Johnson’s “political godson.”

At an abrupt news conference after the incident, Senator Prince Johnson described it as unfortunate and unhealthy for Liberia’s democracy and stated with strong confidence that it was masterminded by officials of the CDC government.

He alleged that the group from the NPP was sent by its political leader, VP Jewel Howard Taylor, and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee. The former rebel leader promised to assemble 500 men, including ex-combatants, next Sunday to protect him as he preaches the Good News of Christ.

“From what I heard one of them saying, it’s Jewel Howard Taylor who instructed them, along with Koijee, to come and disrupt the church, fight us, and wound the people; I’m the target,” he said.

The Nimba County Senator further alleged that he was warned days ago by an EPS officer to strengthen his security because the Vice President and Mayor of the City of Monrovia are making plans to assassinate him.

Consequently, hours after the disruption on Sunday, former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai condemned the act and emphasized that such lawless and violent conduct should be repudiated by all Liberians on every side of the political spectrum.

“Fellow Liberians, a few hours ago we sadly witnessed a group of young people believed to be acting under the banner of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) violently besiege the Christ Chapel of Faith Ministry of Evangelist Prince Y. Johnson and unfortunately disrupt normal church service”.

He continued, “I must say that such a brazen act of thuggery is without a shred of doubt reprehensible, inconceivable, unacceptable, and sheer provocation. And it is shameful that such lawlessness is done in the name of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, said to be a lawyer, who by oath bears greater responsibility to uphold the rule of law and respect the constitutional rights of others.

As leaders, he believes politicians should at no point in time incite and lure their followers, especially their youths, into violence and anti-peace maneuverings against others who hold opposing political views to ours.

“In our political differences, and no matter how high tension may flare in these 2023 election debates, we are duty-bound to uphold the peace of our country and constantly admonish our followers to remain law-abiding, moderate, and tolerant of opposing sides”.

The former Vice President further stated, “As Liberians, we bear testament to the severe consequences of the civil conflict that eviscerated our country for fifteen years. Hence, I can’t emphasize enough the significance of peace and the compelling duty we all share in protecting this peace”.

Additionally, he said, “It is the height of intolerance and indecency to have unleashed thugs on evangelist Prince Y. Johnson and members of his congregation merely on account of political differences. This runs contrary to the values of our cherished democracy and undermines the hard-earned peace we in the opposition have endeavored to uphold, against all odds, over these difficult and revealing five to six years of the Weah-Taylor government”.

However, in the face of this unwarranted provocation, he said, “We find consolation in the fact that Senator Prince Y. Johnson demonstrated maturity and leadership by immediately cutting off his church service and disbursing his members to avoid the temptation of bloodshed. I would like to commend him for his leadership, both as an evangelist and a political leader, and for this, I give him my salute”.

He added, “In ending, let me reecho my mantra: in all that we do as political leaders and Liberians generally, let’s think Liberia, love Liberia and build Liberia”.

 On Saturday, May 20, 2023, Senator Johnson, via his Facebook page, invited the public to the Christ Chapel of Faith service today, Sunday, for his response to the Vice President’s outburst against him.

However, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has denied the allegation and says its attention has been drawn to a deliberate and malicious misrepresentation of the events that happened on Sunday, May 21, at the Christ Chapel of Faith in Paynesville by the Secretariat of the Unity Party. 

According to the UP’s secretariat, the protest, which the party said was “violent” and carried out by “thugs”, was sanctioned and monitored by the CDC. Chairman said this is the usual mischievous political machination that the Unity Party is accustomed to, which is intended to buy it public sympathy.

The CDC, in a press statement, made it categorically clear that, as an institution, it does not condone violence of any kind and did not plan or execute one at the Senator’s Church. However, the party said it is of the opinion that in its new dispensation, the right to assemble and voice one’s views is fully guaranteed under the law.

According to Chairman Morlu, the group appeared to be exercising these rights in a non-violent manner. Even Senator Johnson, against whom the protest was directed, did not say in his interview with the VOA following the protest that it was violent.

CDC said for the Unity Party to come to such a conclusion and accuse the CDC is an act of political desperation, so desperate that it now calls the former warlord, whom they have long denigrated, “a respected religious leader”. This shows how they came up with the unconscionable idea of aspiring to have his protégé within a heartbeat of the presidency.

The CDC Chair said his party has a much more valuable use of its time right now than validating the cowardice of a lawmaker feigning being a “Man of God” while profiting off the backs of the people he represents. CDC said the desperation of his newfound friends in the Unity Party is becoming so pronounced that they will do anything to keep him happy—even if it means ordaining him.