Thomas Jucontee Woewiyu
Editor's Note: Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu was an ally of Charles Taylor, the convicted war criminal who is now languishing in a British prison. He served as defense minister of Taylor’s rebel movement whose rebellion to the Doe dictatorship culminated in a 14-year long internecine war. In 2014, Woewiyu was arrested by the FBI for having allegedly lied to the U.S. immigration authorities about his active participation in the war. He was subsequently released on bill and has been placed under house arrest over the past months while awaiting his day in a U.S. court.
Following Woewiyu’s arrest by the U.S. Government, there have been speculations among Liberians at home and in the Diaspora about a possible establishment of a crime court for Liberian war criminals. Woewiyu, who once broke away from Taylor during the heat of the war and later made revelations about Ellen Sirleaf’s involvement in planning the uprising, has been perceived by many Liberians to be a possible state witness against fellow perpetrators of the Liberian hostilities.
Little wonder, the Liberian Concord Times reported on June 26, 2015 that Woewiyu had vowed to “expose President Sirleaf in the courts in America”. After a long silence following his arrest, Woewiyu has been reacting to the Concord Times Report, vehemently denying ever speaking to “any press person anywhere concerning my case before the court in the United States”. He responds in a press statement issued on June 28, 2015, a copy of which is published below:
Press Statement by Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu
(Re-published due to error)
Regarding the article published in the Liberian Concord Times on Friday, June 26, 2015, which stated, inter alia, “Tom Woewiyu vows to expose (President) Ellen Sirleaf in the courts in America”, I must emphatically say that the statement is a malicious fabrication with nefarious intent. I believe that the editor and publisher’s intent is to do me harm and not President Sirleaf as it appears on its face.
At no time did I speak to any press person anywhere concerning my case before the Court in the United States. The case has nothing to do with President Sirleaf or any other Liberian for that matter.
As the Liberian people are poised to democratically retire one national leader and elect another in place, the press has a pivotal role to play in providing the truth to guide the public through the democratic process. Those who call themselves journalists, or press institutions that create false and sensational headlines in empty two-page flyers as a means of earning the day’s meal, need to find a new vocation.
As historians gear up to put in perspective the legacy of President Sirleaf’s 12-year leadership of the nation for the benefit of posterity, the press must serve as a thesaurus, defining, informing and interpreting the mark of her national leadership in alternative but objective terms.
As other statesmen and women are vying to mount the helm of leadership of our nation as president and other elected officials, the role of the Press needn’t be overstated. As the 4th Estate of the nation, the press must be truthful, faithful and vigilant in filtering and interpreting events on behalf of the public.
Let me use this opportunity to advise my fellow Liberians and Liberian institutions such as the Press, the Liberian Legal Bar Association, and Religious Organizations to let us take advantage of the unique opportunities provided us as a nation and people to forge a true democratic nation given the sacrifices we have made in our recent past and continue to make.
The first opportunity is the ongoing constitution review processes. This process affords Liberians the opportunity to restructure the body of laws that determines who we are. Clearly, for us to become a 21st century democratic nation, we must get away from the executive dictatorship and let the three branches of our republican form of government truly function on a separate and equal basis as constitutionally envisaged.
The judiciary must also be reformed and restructured so that equal justice can reach every inch of the land mass of our nation. This ongoing reform must not be completed without the creation of regionally based appellate court system to function between the current circuit and supreme courts. We have advocated this reform for decades and this opportunity must not be missed.
The second opportunity is the use of the ballot box as the only means to evolve political leadership in our nation. Like most successful democracy in the world today, we, Liberians have earned this opportunity through blood, sweat and tears and must now enjoy it. We must endeavor to make the 2017 general and presidential elections through the ballot box a great success. We must peacefully transfer political power from one administration to another.
To avoid becoming economic slaves in our own nation on account of the uncontrolled immigration and the systematic ceding of economic opportunities to foreigners, we must embark on a deliberate and conscientious economic empowerment of Liberians. The recent advice to the Liberian people by U.S. Ambassador, [Deborah Malac], is especially instructive and certainly a great step in the right direction. She says that Liberia’s developmental initiatives should discourage the age old process of depending on concessions to develop the economy of the nation. She suggests, instead, empowering the Liberian citizenry through entrepreneurship.
Let me close by expressing my heartfelt appreciation to my fellow Liberians for their prayers and supplications on my behalf during my ongoing trial and tribulations.
May God all mighty bless the Republic of Liberia and her Peoples.
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu
Correction: Mr. Woewiyu mistakenly attributed Amb. Deborah Malac's statement to former Amb. Linda Thomas Greenfield. Thanks to Nyekan Eboko and others.