Mr. Sando Johnson's Allegations: A Great Disservice to Liberia

By Cletus Segbe Wotorson ( A Concerned Liberian)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 20, 2002

There are times when it is necessary that we all unequivocally speak out against evil forces poised to add further destruction to our fragile country. The recent allegations leveled by Rep. Sando Johnson, Majority leader for the Ruling NPP Party, against Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Monrovia, necessitates speaking out.

Liberians everywhere have long passed the point of fatigue and frustration over the failed actions of the Government Mr. Johnson represents, but this recent turn of events is particularly sickening and deserves special attention. I am personally angry and distressed over the ludicrous allegations of Mr. Johnson, not because Archbishop Michael Francis has been a friend since our days in St. Patrick's High school, but because Mr. Johnson feebly tried to besmear a gentleman of impeccable character and a critical link of credibility between Liberia and the International Community. I am also angry because I am personally aware and appreciative of the many risky sojourns the archbishop has made in the interest of the people of Liberia when, even his life was endangered.

The recent comments attributed to Mr. Sando Johnson regarding Archbishop Michael Francis' alleged role in the 1992 murder of five Catholic nuns, are repugnant, irresponsible, vile, unfounded and cowardly. It would have been easy to ignore these comments had they not come from within the cast of characters whose livelihood is only fostered by the continued distortion of truth in hopes of being rewarded by "the crumbs" that trickle down. That someone would even fathom the notion that the Archbishop was culpable in the murder of the five nuns, whom he selflessly recruited to serve Liberians, is in itself, deeply insightful into the character, or abysmal lack, thereof, of those masquerading as leaders. Evidently it was a failed attempt to provide political cover to a heinous crime whose perpetrators are well within his certain knowledge.

It does not matter whether Mr. Johnson claims to have spoken in his personal capacity or not. The fact is, his accusations target a Liberian of unimpeachable character and who unpretentiously and consistently sacrifices his own needs for the common good of all Liberians. Further more, this thoughtless and desperate attempt to slander a well-meaning and decent Liberian patriot without an iota of truth, contravenes every principle of decency and integrity-characteristics that should be constantly exemplified by an "elected" official of Government, most especially one who represents the First Branch of Government. Unfortunately, this calculated perpetuation of unnecessary political confrontation, in hopes of intimidating human rights campaigners or perceived political enemies into submission is not acceptable and will not be tolerated for a society that is struggling to repair itself.

Clearly, Mr. Johnson needs to be reminded that as Majority leader of the Ruling Party, in the House of Representatives, there is a certain degree of moral and political responsibility he must pay attention to and cultivate. For a Government that seeks reconciliation and one that asked the Archbishop to chair its Reconciliation Conference, the capriciousness of the unsubstantiated allegations of the Majority Leader of the Ruling Party, on the eve of the 2003 "scheduled" National elections, transmit divisive and pugnacious signals to all Liberians and to the International Community. For taking such reckless liberties, Mr. Johnson has exposed the ungratefulness and that of the Party he represents, to the continued efforts the archbishop has made to rehabilitate the health, educational and religious infrastructure of the Catholic Church through out Liberia. Liberians have not forgotten that Mr. Johnson and his cohorts wantonly destroyed these very institutions during the civil war. Certainly, no one is questioning the right to free speech, even for self-indulgent fabricators and distortionists, like Mr. Johnson. It does need to be pointed out, however, that person's speech, especially coming from a high government official, must be exercised responsibly and maturely.

I for one would like to publicly express my fullest support for Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis and the Catholic Church as well as my appreciation for the solidarity of the Liberian Council of Churches in this matter.

It is crystal clear that if we are ever able to arrest the hostilities and lawlessness that linger from the civil war, and search for the truth for the actors, Liberians collectively must undertake the following actions as part of a broad and evolving strategy for National Penance and Reconciliation:

1. Encourage the International Community to establish a Liberian War Tribunal or encourage the International Community to broaden the terms of reference of the Sierra Leone War tribunal to cover all potential war crimes and their linkages within the territorial limits of the Mano River Union.

2. Let the Liberians put under consideration the establishment of a Truth Commission in Liberia for crimes and indiscretions committed during the war.

It is my fervent hope and belief that if we effectively implement these and some of the other suggestions that Liberian patriots have advanced over the last several years, we will be able to once and for all rid our country of this culture of moral irresponsibility. In so doing, we will have made the greatest down payment possible for the future of all of Liberia's children.

Let me conclude on this note to Mr. Johnson... "princes and lords may flourish and may fade, but the bold peasant when once destroyed can never be supplied."

© The Perspective
P.O. Box 450493
Atlanta, GA 31145