INPFL rebel leader Prince Y. Johnson in action
By Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor & Kpanneh Doe
April 10, 2018
Better Late than Never’: The Execution of Michael Doe is a story that has been in the making since 2005; all we needed to find if there were additional eyewitnesses to validate the execution-style killing of our relative, Michael J. Doe by General Prince Yormie Johnson at Hotel Africa.
The phrase “better late than never” is an early English proverb that was first recorded in 1200; it means it is better to do something when it is supposed to be done than not to do it at all.
Also, there is this expression in Liberia that goes like this: “Ninety years are not forever”! In a way, it is a wish that someday, whether in ninety years or so, those who took the laws into their hands, killed and violated every law in the country with impunity will have to pay for their sins. To the ordinary person, “Ninety years are not forever” is their cry for JUSTICE. The Ninety Years scenario has made many African leaders and criminals alike become casualties by their own doing; but for some reasons, due to these leaders’ wicked and greediness for power, they failed to learn from history; they keep repeating the same offense over and over and by hook or crook to maintain and remain in power. They are not alone; they have cheerleaders who will cheer them on, no matter the consequence.
Yet, Luke 8:17 (NIV) states, “…there is nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” This is true of the cold-bloody execution-style killing of our beloved brother, cousin, father, uncle and Citizen Michael J. Doe by then General Prince Yormie Johnson of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL); a break-away fashion of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).
Better Late than Never: The Execution of Michael J. Doe by Gen. Prince Y. Johnson -Part I
Mr. Gus Kowenhoven, a Dutch national and Manager of Hotel Africa left Mr. Doe’s security company in charge of the management of the hotel when he was leaving Liberia. At the time, the area where Hotel Africa is located was under the control of General Johnson and his INPFL. That’s how General Johnson encountered Mr. Doe. Thereafter, General Johnson would pay frequent visits to the hotel requesting the “Bossman” (that’s how he referred to Mr. Doe) to entertain him and his entourage, and without hesitation, Mr. Doe would oblige.
We believe General Johnson was no stranger to Mr. Doe; they might have known each other in Nimba where Mr. Doe was Chief of the LAMCO Plant Protection Force (PPF) in Yekepa, Nimba County. From 1966-67, Siahyonkron Nyanseor (then known as Sam Anthony Roberts, III) who is a part author of this story was a student at LAMCO Vocational Training School (LVTS) at Grassfield, Nimba. The institution later became Carrol High School. (For further information, see Nyanseor’s article titled: My LAMCO Buchanan Experience published in the September 25, 2015 edition of The Perspective.org online web magazine).
Based on the additional information we obtained, two reliable eyewitnesses confirmed that “it was on August 5, 1990, when General Johnson came to the hotel and confronted Mr. Doe who was seated in a chair. He demanded that the Bossman show him where he kept one million United States dollars the hotel management left in his care. On that evening, General Johnson and his entourage had been drinking and appeared they were intoxicated”.
According to these eyewitnesses, General Johnson said to Mr. Doe that a lady with inside scoop regarding the operation of the hotel told him about the money; and “when Bossman (Mr. Doe) failed to provide the alleged money, General Johnson got angry, took his pistol and shot him at point blank”. The witnesses also reported that the body of Mr. Doe was then thrown off the 4th-floor balcony, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near the hotel. On that same evening, another witness said, General Johnson, shot and killed a lady he called his daughter. No reason was given!
The morning of the next day after the execution of Mr. Doe, General Johnson went to the hotel looking for him (Mr. Doe). He asked some of the employees, “Where is the Bossman?” They couldn’t believe he had forgotten! They said, “You shot him yesterday evening over 1 million dollars palava”. His initial response was, “How could I do a thing to such a good man? The Bossman is the person we usually come for money and beers”. General Johnson’s reaction was described as remorseful.
Numerous Reported Gruesome Killings of Innocent Civilians
There are numerous incidents in which General Johnson committed crimes against humanity. One classic example is the photo that showed him with a gun that looks like an M-16 with a person lying on his back on the ground with the gun pointed at him and a man who looks like an aid worker looking on. The name of the man who was later killed by him is Augustus Barchue. Also, there is a story published August 26, 2008, in The Liberian Journal of the execution of the popular Liberian musician named Tecumseh Roberts. The article was written by James Kpargoi, Jr. According to Mr. Kpargoi, “Mr. Johnson said Varnii shot Roberts in his (Johnson) presence because, according to him, he was involved in homosexuality.” Samuel Varnii was the deputy leader of the INPFL, the warring faction headed by him.
Unlike General Johnson, Mr. Joshua Milton Blahyi aka General Butt Naked, now an evangelical preacher in Monrovia has openly confessed, and have asked God and those whose relatives he killed for forgiveness; whereas, General Johnson is making all sorts of excuses and threats “…the people want trouble return…” warning the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) from prosecuting those that committed heinous crimes outside of the civil wars. It is even alleged that he took part in the overthrowing and killing of the pan-African leader of Burkina Faso, President Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara (popularly known as Captain Thomas Sankara). If Honorable Prince Y. Johnson is the ‘born again’ Christian as he claims, he must confess to the execution of Michael J. Doe and others for God to forgive him. That’s a truly Christian thing to do!
This execution- style of the killing of innocent civilians, who were not involved in the war, was a trademark that defined Prince Johnson and those who fought alongside his Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) group. Mr. Johnson notoriety for brutally murdering civilians in the public glare was so egregious that it placed him in a special category amongst Liberian warlords. He was unrestrained with his guns and had the wicked impulse to terrorize everybody who lived in the area the INPFL mostly controlled in Monrovia, which at the time was Bushrod Island. According to Mr. Ben Tee Browne, Sr., a Liberian who witnessed this, writing in the September 11, 2016 edition of The Perspective magazine, shared his experience:
“In 1990, like many Liberians who feared for their safety in the areas controlled by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL/Doe Soldiers) during the war, I was forced to leave from the only home I have known since birth in Sinkor to go through Bushrod Island with the hope of going to my brother in Gardnerville. Little did I know that Gardnerville was considered a different country (Greater Liberia) that was controlled by Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and Bushrod Island was another country too that was controlled by Prince Y. Johnson’s INPFL, a breakaway rebel group from Taylor; I was forced to stay on Bushrod Island without food, money, families, and friends or loved-ones like many other Liberians.”
He narrates his story further:
“After spending my first night on the water-filled living room floor of Ms. Joanna Kofa in Logan town, I was told that Prince Johnson distributes rice to newcomers at his Duala, cotton tree sub-office on a daily basis. Some of the displaced people who had spent the night at Ms. Kofa’s house and I decided to check the food distribution out. After we waited for about 45 minutes at the distribution site, a convoy of looted jeeps carrying boys and girls dressed in jeans and T-shirts on top speed came rolling down at the crowd, nearly knocking some of the bystanders in their path. Before the jeeps could come to a complete halt, a man dressed in a complete American styled military uniform jumped out of the second jeep in the convoy. In his left hand was a guitar, he walked to the crowd and started to sing a popular gospel song, “What a friend we have in Jesus?”
“The more than three hundred hungry displaced people had no choice but to join him in singing. Before long, a malnourished boy, about eight years old found his way right next to Johnson. With his swollen feet, stomach and wide eyes that seem to be begging for food, he stood at the feet of Johnson like a squirrel at the feet of an elephant. In no time, Johnson recognized his presence and shrieked at him to leave but like any child his age, he was gone away from the crowd for a few minutes and was back.
“Johnson, with his left hand still holding his guitar, pulled out his silver pistol with his right hand and shot the boy in the head. Before the boy’s malnourished body could fall to the ground, some of Johnson’s trigger-happy fools (bodyguards) emptied the magazines of their automatic weapons on his innocent body. Many of us ran a little distance from the spot. Some of the women in the crowd covered their faces and squealed. Some who remember their faith made a quick sign of the cross.
“Bury him and come for rice!” Johnson barked at the group of men standing nearby. About 20 men dragged the boy’s shattered body and pushed it under a disabled truck nearby. They tried to cover the body with anything, including papers and grass. They later received a 100 pounds bag of “gold dust” rice. The rest of us stayed around more than two hours after Johnson left for his Caldwell headquarter without distributing rice or providing any explanation for taking that innocent harmless life away. Later during my stay on Bushrod Island, I was unfortunate to have witnessed four additional killing of civilians whose only crime was been present at a particular place in pursuit of food; all personally by Prince Y. Johnson.”
There are many other stories that mirror how innocent Liberians who were not involved with the war suffered and were murdered by the cruel hands of Prince Johnson and other warlords who today are entrenched in the corridors of power.
The culture of impunity which has become so pervasive in the Liberian society cannot go unpunished and must change to build a peaceful, viable, and prosperous society. That is why the thousands of Liberians who were victimized and still bear the scars of a war that was orchestrated by power-hungry men and women must show courage and remain relentless in pursuing a Campaign for Justice that will ensure the likes of Prince Johnson and several others who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, face the full weight of justice that would lead to them being prosecuted.
Part II will follow we have gotten additional information. Also, we are requesting from the general public or anyone with additional information regarding the case or related cases; and photos of the late Michael Doe, have it sent to email@example.com; it will be treated with confidentiality.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor and J. Kpanneh Doe are relatives of the late Michael J. Doe who since 2005 have been investigating to bring to justice the killer of their relative. Nyanseor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Doe at email@example.com