When the pages of the evil visited upon Liberia are completed and those whose actions remain questionable are punished or not, the name Allan White will stand firmly tall because of the depth of interest he’s shown to do what ordinary Liberians find uncomfortable to venture into. His reasons for doing such are known to him best. Several years after the conflict, the American is restlessly finding possible paths to bring to justice people of interest.
This was the case his reported meeting with Senators Prince Johnson and Benoni Urey in Ghana portrayed. But is that the right channel or does that mean he is shooting himself in the legs? The New Republic dips into what could be a possible exposure. Both sides he reportedly held meeting with in Accra, have explained what happened there, especially on prosecution of Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“We were invited to Accra, Ghana by Dr. Allen White. They met with Benoni Urey first and later they met with Prince Y. Johnson (PYJ). The meeting was called by White and his team to discuss with us about the upcoming elections. He introduced one man to honorable Johnson’s team known as Jeff,” these were the words of a source from the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction(MDR) of Senator, Prince Y. Johnson who confided in this paper on the reportedly controversial meeting held in Ghana.
Though this paper could not independently verify the claims, they could be more or like a form of exposure of the American.
Still unearthing details on the reported discussions held in Ghana, the source quoted White as telling Urey “We will like for you, Benoni to be the next President of Liberia. We want to do business with you. Also, we want for Senator Prince Johnson to be your running mate. Remember you, Benoni and Johnson still have crimes hanging on your heads. You Benoni took part in the war by supporting Charles Taylor financially. Prince Johnson too is not off the hook.”
According to the source, Urey was stunned by the comments coming from Mr. White who is also quoted as asking him (Urey) whether he would bring war crimes court if elected president.
“Will you bring war crimes court if elected as president of Liberia? Will you protect American businesses in Liberia? Will you ensure that president Sirleaf is prosecuted? In the affirmative, Urey agreed to all without objection,” the source said.
The source said Urey’s war days name was Gen. “Gold Finger”, meaning he had gold on most of his fingers during the war.
When this paper last week contacted the All Liberian People Party (ALP) of which Mr. Urey is political leader for comments on the allegations, an official said “We do know that Mr. Urey went to Accra for meeting at some point in time this year. But we do not know the details of it.”
Also when PYJ’s party was contacted, the Chairman of the party, Mr. Moses Ziah, could not deny or confirm the report. He said “the standard bearer had a press conference last week and all the details with respect to the Accra meeting was addressed and the paper can quote the senator.”
At his press conference upon his return from Nigeria, PYJ confirmed that he was invited to Accra by White to seek his approval to be a running mate to Urey.
“We were able to meet two white guys, one was Dr. Alan White and another guy and they introduced themselves as the lobbyist for Benoni Urey, but the way they said it Washington wants Benoni Urey to be the next President since Donald Trump is a businessman so they want me to work with Urey,” Johnson said.
He told reporters at the Roberts International Airport that Dr. White said to him that the United States intends establishing war crimes court in Liberia. Such prosecution would start from 1995. If he accepted to be vice president to Urey, he would be excluded from prosecution.
“I said, Dr. White if you have war crimes court coming and I committed war crimes, why should I be exempted?
“Let it come, let everybody be involved. But I don’t think what you are telling me is true and don’t use intimidation tactics to get me to succumb.
“If Washington wants Mr. Urey why is he still on the State Department travel ban list?” Senator Johnson said.
At the press conference, Senator Johnson continued: the next day Mr. Urey along with Dr. White went to see me at the hotel where they asked me to sign the agreement.
Johnson continued: “I refused to sign because one Alex Whapoe told me I was coming to Accra to discuss business, not politics.”
“I said, Whapoe, are you still interested in minority rule in this country?
Johnson told Whapoe “Since you want us to form a coalition, I agree to form the coalition, but as to who is going to head the coalition would be something the technical team would decide – that was why we came up with that coalition and they drafted it, not my people.”
But the source privy to the meeting in Accra told this paper when Dr. White asked PYJ if he would establish war crimes court in Liberia, he responded: “The Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord called for the establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Commission-TRC. That has been set up. All we need to do is to implement it. War crimes court will lead to opening of new wounds in Liberia. We do not want war in Liberia. Liberians want peace.”
On prosecuting president Sirleaf, PYJ responded like this: “You know to fight corruption globally is not an easy thing. In Liberia is not an easy thing. She has been trying her best. If majority of Liberians demand that we prosecute her, we may think about it.”
On protecting American businesses in Liberia, he responded by saying: “As long as American companies and businesses abide by the laws of Liberia as they do in the US, we will protect them. But if they violate our laws, the law will take its course.”
Money change hands?
When this paper contacted Mr. Johnson for comment if he was ever given money as an inducement he declined saying. But a source close to him said, “the Chief met with White in Accra and met Alexander Whapoe (he is said to be one of the middle men trying to convince PYJ to go as running mate to Urey). Urey is PYJ friend. They have both known each other for years(Urey was said to have confirmed this to some of his party officials). But he has not been tested politically. I believe in confidentiality. I cannot say if money was given to him or not.”
A source from ALP told this paper that an amount of US$50,000(Fifty thousand United States dollars) was given to Senator Johnson as a way to start the process through an international business center in Liberia.
Asked who gave the cash, the source said, “it came from some Americans.(whose names were not disclosed). “Prince will not go free this time,” an ALP source said.
Behind the Scene negotiation:
Sources to PYJ party told this paper that for the past two months, there has been behind the scene negations with his party members in both the United States and Liberia.
“They have been meeting with some of MDR officials in the States. They have been sending emissaries to the honorable house. It tells you that Urey is desperate for that. Maybe Dr. White is his lobbyist. There are many politicians in the county, Nimba who can still be the running mate to Mr. Urey if PYJ refuses. I think this is really premature politics”
But an interview Dr. Allen White granted the Voice of America (VOA) this week, he said there was a need for retributive justice for perpetrators of atrocities committed during the civil war.
“If the investigation proves that this occurred (referring to Hladini Devi dasi originally named Linda Jury an American devotee of the Hare Krishna faith who was allegedly killed and five of her students on the bank of the Saint Paul River by Senator Johnson’s forces on October 3, 1990 in Caldwell.) that will have an impact on this.” But Senator Johnson had denied that allegation.
“One of the things that I did want to mention on this – this is not something that’s new, there’s an extensive record of crimes and atrocities that have been committed,” Dr. White said.
But what remains unclear is where PYJ would have been investigated had he agreed to go as running mate to Mr. Urey since sources close to the meeting in Accra said that both men took part in the war.
Who is Alan White?
A lawyer by training, Alan White is one of America’s legal luminaries who has been working on issues related to human rights violations across the world. With his law firm in North Carolina, White became known to Liberia and Liberians during and after Liberian civil war when he pushed for the prosecution of former warlords. He was instrumental in bringing former Liberian President Charles Taylor to trial following the establishment of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.
White could not be reached for comments as Mr. Whapoe who is said to be close to him was not available to provide contact details on him.