Prince Y. Johnson is Back to Nigeria

By Abdoulaye W. Dukulé

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 12, 2004

According to Agence France Presse (AFP) quoting reports from Monrovia, former rebel leader Prince Y. Johnson left Liberia on Friday, April 7 to return to Nigeria. Prince Johnson became famous during the early years of the Liberian civil war when he broke away from Charles Taylor and later captured and tortured military dictator Samuel Doe to death.

When he returned to Monrovia last month at, what he termed as a special invitation of Head of State Gyude Bryant, Prince Johnson said he had apologized to the family of Samuel K. Doe and Liberians for his bad deeds. He later claimed that Samuel K. Doe had committed suicide while in detention. Videos of Samuel Doe being tortured and questioned by John Yormie, a close lieutenant of Prince Y. Johnson (who is said to have been executed by Charles Taylor in 2003) were sold throughout the world in the 1990s and somehow epitomized the barbaric and savage nature of the Liberian war.

Upon his return to Monrovia, Prince Johnson declared that he was planning to run for a senatorial seat in Nimba and that he joined the Liberian Action Party (LAP), the party of Gyude Bryant and the late Jackson Doe, a prominent Nimba politician who ran for president in 1985 and allegedly won the elections rigged by Samuel K. Doe. Jackson Doe was killed by Charles Taylor’s NPFL. “The people of Nimba have spoken and I can’t turn down their request,” Prince Johnson said, explaining his political ambition. He never said which group of Nimba citizens asked him to represent them in the parliament.

As leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL), Prince Johnson collaborated with the West African peacekeeping force in the 1990s and appointed representatives to the Sawyer-led interim government (IGNU). He reigned supreme on his Caldwell base and carried out summary executions for any act of indiscipline among his fighters and civilians. In 1992, after IGNU printed a new currency, Prince Johnson, who had caseloads of money looted from banks in Monrovia went into an alliance with Charles Taylor to topple the interim government in one of the bloodiest episodes of the Liberian war in October 1992. After he discovered that Charles Taylor wanted to capture him, he sought refuge with ECOMOG and was flown to Nigeria where he lived ever since.

During the past few weeks, Prince Johnson went into hiding and abandoned his residence on Bushrod Island in Monrovia. He said the brother of Samuel K. Doe, Chayee Doe had threatened to kill him. At one point, he called on his former fighters to regroup and protect him but received no response. He seemed to have reached the conclusion that he could not live in peace in Monrovia, certainly more afraid of the ghosts of the many innocent people he slaughtered than from any real threat of his life.

In August 1990, Samuel K. Doe, Prince Y. Johnson and Charles Taylor constituted what one could term as “the triumvirate of death.” The three men and their followers brought the nation to its knees through killings and destruction. It would have been a sad irony that after the death of Samuel K. Doe, the resignation of Charles Taylor, Liberians were to provide Prince Johnson with a senatorial seat in the Capitol. He belongs to a generation of politicians that Liberia must get rid of to move on into a new era of humanity.