To begin with, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe and his team of learned lawyers at the National Bar Association of Liberia are NOT stupid, and all those yarning for Justice around the country are NOT stupid either; instead, they are farsighted.  In his profession as a human rights lawyer, Counselor Tiawon Gongloe has always defended human rights and above all, stood up for the voiceless.  He has always fought to see true and fair practices of justice in Liberia. He is a man of excellent moral character and a farsighted dignitary who will never compromise JUSTICE for brown envelopes or bribes. Op-ed 

An Open Letter to Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County

Dear Mr. Johnson,

Recently, I came across a couple of videos from you, in which you hurled insults on all Justice Campaigners, including the lawyers under the leadership of Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, labeling them as “stupid”, and you also predicted the intention of President George Manneh Weah to rig the 2023 national presidential elections. Senator Johnson, I have never been more pressured than your continued provocations to make my way into publically discussing national politics for the first time.

To begin with, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe and his team of learned lawyers at the National Bar Association of Liberia are NOT stupid, and all those yarning for Justice around the country are NOT stupid either; instead, they are farsighted.  In his profession as a human rights lawyer, Counselor Tiawon Gongloe has always defended human rights and above all, stood up for the voiceless.  He has always fought to see true and fair practices of justice in Liberia. He is a man of excellent moral character and a farsighted dignitary who will never compromise JUSTICE for brown envelopes or bribes.

The 14-year uncivil war that claimed the lives of more than 250,000 Liberians

In case you have forgotten, Senator Johnson, the war, which claimed more than 250,000 lives in Liberia, sounded necessary because of the following three phrases, and again, those were the same three phrases that ushered President Samuel K. Doe, an uneducated military sergeant, into the helm of power in 1980: 1) Rampant Corruption, 2) Misuse of public offices and 3) Gross abuses of human rights.

In reality, these three phrases are not just made up: but history accounts for their practices and existence in all past governments that led to war.  Today, in fact, the corruption, misuse of public offices, and gross abuses of human rights in the country are not just rampant, but recklessly outrageous, unscrupulous, and beyond imagination.  And Senator Johnson, you are right to predict that President George Weah is most likely to rig the coming national presidential election in 2023. Your utterances of that prediction are not any prophecy as you claimed in your video; rather, it is the mere fact that any growing child can predict base on past history and the current provocations in government.

Liberian Economy Group (LEG) Bella Casa Hotel Sinkor, Monrovia. Cell# 0777516641/088696999 Email: reservations@bellacasaliberia.com Hon. Albert Chie President Pro-Tempore House of Senate Mr. President Pro-Tempore: Please find attached the Report of the Liberian Economy Group (LEG) on the Current Statement of the Liberian Economy. We of LEG remain confident that the Action Steps indicated in the report, when taken, can lead to the solution of Liberia’s main problem, longstanding and widespread Poverty. Respectfully Yours Liberian Economy Group (LEG)
Comrade Tipoteh, progressive icon

It can be recalled that years after the arrival of the Americo-Liberians in Liberia, barbaric practices such as force labors, secret human trafficking, ritualistic killings, and discriminations of all types (denial of any government participation by indigenous descendants, etc) were committed against the mass populations comprising of the major tribal groups in Liberia.  In order to legalize these inhumane practices, the indigenous were not earlier included as citizens in their own country. In fact, education, which is the key to building any society, was kept far from the sight of these indigenous groups. It was the missionaries who felt compelled to break the barriers by introducing the culture of education to the indigenous children of Liberia. When these efforts began to gain grounds, the indigenous child who became inspired and desirous to be further educated would rather change his sure name if he were hired by a Congau person or to pay school fees. Force labor meant nothing to most indigenous (native/country) children as long as it would allow them to get food to eat and go to school.

On the line of social justice and economic distributions, there were none in favor of the mass native population until lately. The natives were compelled to pay what was termed as “hut tax” annually although they were not working to earn any salary, neither were they receiving social benefits.  If the hut tax were not paid, the one who was responsible to make that payment would be dragged into another form of forced labor.  There was no justice, in any form, to favor a native person except that he is somehow connected to a Congau person.  In some cases, native men were openly and publicly disgraced in front of their wives and children because they didn’t have money to pay their hut taxes, Interestingly, however, the taxes being collected were not reported to government revenues; instead, it went directly into an individual’s accounts. More besides, the country is abundantly rich in natural and mineral resources with a relatively low population.  You will notice that during the period of these intense cruelties against the majority of indigenous people, the actual population of Liberia was 2.5 million people or lower consumed in 45,000 square miles landscape. The Congaus made up only a fraction of five percent of the entire population.  Because the indigenous were mostly hunters and farmers, they mainly survived by cultivating the fertile land.

Any attempt by the natives to criticize the government or its officials against these abuses was seen as a very serious offense, often punishable by long-lasting imprisonment or by death. Hence, when the indigenous were finally integrated, employment decisions (whether in government or private sector) were made in secret (UBF) society based on “who knows you”: meaning that an indigenous candidate would be required to provide two forms of qualifications: connection to a Congau person and a resume. The most popular jobs easily offered to native descendants were house boy/girl or military unless they were perfectly qualified and well connected.  Military jobs were mostly considered because there not a lot of education requirements as long as the candidates were physically fit to contend with the rough physical pieces of training, although the practice of order of command from top ranks to bottom played some important role.

Fast forward, political tensions within the ruling families paved the path for a new group of progressives, mostly educated natives combined with frustrated Congau descendants, to emerge as they preached and pushed the truth fearlessly, for the first time, against the corruption, misuse of public offices (nepotism and injustices), and human rights abuses as well as the importance of multi-party democracy. They were able to pressure the government to, almost involuntarily, give up the one-party rule.  Although there was still no fairness in the pronouncement of multi-partyism, the progressives were well connected with the masses (mainly indigenous) who made up the largest portion of the population. Those progressives were seen as the only voice of the voiceless.

As the pressure on the President continued to mount, several leaders of the progressive class were arrested and placed behind bars on treason charges.  These untimely arrests which seemed to have been a strategy to intimidate the progressives were an unfortunate and gross abuse of power by the Americo Liberian oligarchs and family ruling clique, Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe as Head of State of the Republic of Liberia on April 12, 1980, would seized on this popular euphoria for change to seized power.  A new page in the history of the country was reached with a new brand of military leaders. In his very first public speech to the nation on April 12, 1980, the head of state used those three phrases (rampant corruption, misuse of public offices, and grudge human rights abuses) ass his reason for killing an elected president.

Senator Johnson, you will also agree with me that the expectations of the ordinary citizens were beyond imagination when Sgt. Doe was ushered into the helm of power: Liberians anticipated rising prices of commodities to drop, the practices of injustice to end, jobs, whether in government or private sector, to be distributed indiscriminately, and the list goes on.  Yes indeed, for the most part, or for the sake of argument, the head of state started by eliminating the evil society (UBF) which was a gateway for human rights abuse and economic-political sabotage, the hut tax, and other minor practices that were thought to have been other contributing factors to the many ills by which the country was being affected in past regimes.  Another anticipation of the head of state and his colleagues was that they would quickly put their acts together, return to the barrack, and watch over a free and fair election.  Disappointedly, there were no signs. In fact, the practices of discrimination, which existed only between the natives and the Congaus, began to gradually sneak its way back as folks from the old order or the TWP began advising Samuel Doe: corruption, misuse of public offices, and human rights abuses were now on public displayed and still, are. The threats of rigging an election became a choice for the head of state in order to keep power as a way to avoid being prosecuted after his regime.

Mr. Prince Johnson, this is exactly where your so-called “prophecy” comes in.  After the highly corrupt and brutal regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who also, disappointedly, revamp all the forgotten wounds of injustices (secret society, unfairness, economic abuses, etc), rampant corruption, and so on, President George Manneh Weah was overwhelmingly elected to change the status quo.  On the contrary, corruption and all elements of the status quo have become unbearable. Yes, Mr. Johnson, President George Manneh Weah is most likely to rig the elections in 2023.

I believe that all of these evils in our society, which have grown miserably in proportion over the years in our society are not strange to you.  Indeed, you said you were provoked, like many others, to accept the idea of taking up arms in order to fight for change to correct these evils.  Today, the beautiful county of Nimba has elected you twice as a Senator after the brutal violence of the civil war. Today, Nimba County and Liberia, want the real issues that have led us to war and the injustices to be addressed, through War and Economic Crimes Court.

Dennis Kotee, the author

The blood of those Nimbains and other Liberians, as well as foreign nationals, are not meant to satisfy your political rhetorics or your threats and insults on peaceful citizens. Without you, Mr. Johnson, there are numerous of educated Nimbaian who hold the senatorial position to truly represent Nimba. You have betrayed and continued to betray Nimba and the Liberian people. Since you got elected to the Senate, you have not presented any bill to solve the problems of rampant corruption, misuse of public offices, and abuses of human rights, or any of the elements of injustices that provoked the violence in the past; instead, you have become one of the main sources of these injustices: you have come to make your senatorial colleagues believe that receiving brown envelopes is the legal way for their votes to be counted, you have come to convince Nimba that the only way to get a job or exercise any democratic right is to join a ruling party, you have come to make Nimba and Liberia understand that the only way to acquire wealth is to act cruelly against your people and steal from them as expressed in some of your various videos and utterances.  Senator Johnson, Nimba County, and Liberia are no longer in the position to be fooled continuously.  We have the young and next generation before us. Enough is enough! War and Economic Crimes Court will set the precedence for a better and brighter Liberia.

—By Dennis Kotee, contributing writer, contact: dkotee@yahoo.com

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