Jefferson Koijee, the City Mayor of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, Jefferson T. Koijee, has questioned the silence of Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, over the recent call for the establishment of war crimes court by former U.N. envoy Stephen Rapp.
Stephen J. Rapp is an American lawyer and the former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice.
He became the Chief of Prosecutions of the ICTR in 2005, and continued to assist Chief Prosecutor Hassan Jallow in prosecuting those involved in the 1994 genocide. In 2007, Rapp succeeded Desmond de Silva to become the third Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he directed the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and others alleged to have violated international criminal law during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
During his recent visit to Liberia earlier this month, both Mr. Rapp and and Dr. Uchenna Emelonye, Country Representative of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights called for Liberia to set up a war crimes court to prosecute perpetrators of its civil war.
They made the call during a one-day justice conference designed to build momentum for the establishment of war crimes court in the country.
“We very much recognize to prevent atrocities in the future—murder, rape, the burning and destruction of homes and communities and livelihoods—one needs to hold responsible, at least the major actors of those crimes, to account,” he told the conference in a special message, warning that leaders in the future could take advantage of impunity to return the country into a bloodbath. “The only way we can prevent that is by the way we prevent other crimes: by holding those that are responsible in fair processes,” Mr. Rapp said during the conference.
Koijee: Inciteful Comments
During a well-attended press conference held at the Monrovia City Hall on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Mayor Koijee described comments made by the war crimes advocate as “inciteful”, and insinuated that Mr. Rapp was meddling in the sovereignty of the Republic.
According to him, he sees no reason why the Justice Minister would sit supinely and allow such to happen.
Koijee: “You’ve got one man called Stephen Rapp, he comes here and sits on the radio station and incites our people and the Justice Minister sits and does nothing. He talks about war crimes court. The President is the chief interpreter of our foreign policy, he said to you we must choose peace. Look at Prince Johnson, he endangered Prince Johnson and the Justice Minister does nothing about it.”
Mayor Koijee said Mr. Rapp “crossed the redline” and his utterances should not have been condoned by the country’s justice arm.
He added that the country is heading in a direction that calls for the Justice Ministry to take up its responsibility to avert some wrong happenings. Mayor Koijee referenced recent allegation against him that he instigated the Montserrado County District 13 pre-by-election violence on November 17.
It was alleged that Mayor Koijee moved in the campaign ground of Mrs. Cornelia Krua-Togba who was contesting on the ticket of the Unity Party with a gun and shot at her supporters who resisted him.
He challenged his accusers to provide proof of their allegation and at the same called on Ms. Togba to retract her allegation. However, he said he blames the Ministry of Justice for doing little to help the situation and failing to recognize that such false allegation puts his life in danger.
Mayor Koijee: “The Justice Ministry needs to take responsibility. The way the country is proceeding, he needs to take responsibility. The Justice Minister cannot be here and you say a senior government official took away the life of a citizen. The Justice Ministry must ensure that we’re all protected. I deserve to be protected also. I could be attacked publicly.
“It is unfortunate that we have a Justice Minister here who has refused to institute investigation in the wake of a grave accusation on a senior government officials of carrying arms during a political rally by a sitting Senator of Grand Bassa County, and the Justice Ministry cannot do anything about it! I am disappointed and call on the Justice Minister to correct the errors committed,”
“Look! We run a government here and we have a Justice Minister here that is duty bond to protect lives and properties regardless of the status of a particular person and he sits there watching these kinds of gross bridge of the law continue. I call on you Mr. Justice Minister to do the right thing.” Koijee contended.
The City Mayor also frowned on the rising wave of street protest around the country, describing it as unlawful and lamented that the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Justice are failing to act on the unlawful protests.
“Everywhere people are just blocking streets. How can blocking streets become the order of the day in this country and the Justice Minister sits supinely and does nothing about that?” he asked.
In a related development, Mayor Jeff Koijee has sued Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County and political leader of the opposition Liberty Party and Mrs. Cornelia Krua-Togba of the Unity Party during the just ended District 13 representative campaign rally where it was observed that the Monrovia City Mayor with his men armed with cutlasses moved in where several got wounded.
As a result of the Mayor and his ‘Gangs’ to allegedly disrupted the campaign rally of Mrs. Kruah-Togba when dozens of supporters of the Unity Party candidate ran for their lives during a reported chase of supporters of Mrs. Kruah-Togba by the Kiojee and his men.
In her complain to her to her fellow Senators,, Senator Kanrga-Lawrence said when Cornelia’s supporters were parading in the Gardnersville Community she saw a group of supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Jefferson Koijee, Mayor of Monrovia City marching towards them. This, she said, prompted the throwing of stones towards the Mayor Koijee and his men. In response, according to her, Koijee’s group pulled cutlasses and brutalized supporters of candidate Cornelia.
Sen. Lawrence: “They surrounded my vehicle, but fortunately, residents of the community came to my rescue and took me to a secure location. Distinguished colleagues, I panicked for myself and the crowd especially the children who were escaping the chaotic scene caused by the major of the City of Monrovia.”
“I was a hostage for about two hours before being escorted by the community dwellers to my vehicle. As a result of the pandemonium and mayhem, we had to use the back road to escape the scene. Pro-Temp and distinguished colleagues, I wish to request an inquiry into this matter which has the propensity to undermine the peace and stability of the country,” she requested.
The Grand Bassa County Senator also raised concern about the presence of Mayor koijee at a political rally which she said is a violation of the Code of Conduct of the Republic of Liberia.
However, Section 5.10 of the National Code of Conduct says, “Every Employee of Government shall ensure that his or her participation in political activities does not bring him or her in conflict with official duties.”
In his lawsuit, the legal consul of Mayor Koijee, Cllr. Arthur Johnson addressing a news conference said his client’s reputation has been damaged through various social media reports by Senator Karnga-Lawrence and Mrs. Kruah-Togba during the just ended Montserrado County By-election for District 13.
The City Mayor of Monrovia Jefferson Koijee is claiming over US$5 million in damages from two partisans of the opposition Liberty and Unity parties for allegedly linking him to the November 17, 2018 election violence in the just-ended by-election in Montserrado County District #13. The riot left scores of residents and others wounded.
In Koijee’s 10-count petition filed with the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice on Wednesday, November 28, he alleged that on November 17, 2018 while on his way to Iron Factory Community along the Somalia Drive for a political rally in support of the CDC candidate John Weah, he received an information that supporters of both the opposition Liberty and Unity Parties candidate Togba have set a road block at the intersection of New Georgia hereby obstructing the movement of people including CDC partisans. Based on the information, he decided to proceed to the area to advise CDC partisans not to retaliate.
According to him, when he got to the New Georgia Junction, he and some CDC partisans came under attack from supporters of the candidate contesting on the ticket of the Liberty and Unity Parties which caused danger and threat to his life but with the mercy of God and help of some of his partisans who took him to a safety zone.
For Cornelia Kruah Togba, Koijee added that during and after the by-election ended, Madam Togba appeared on both the electronic and social media and accused him that he killed a girl during the election violence which was not true.
“This statement which was made by the 2nd Defendant was untrue and was only intended to defame and damage the reputation of the plaintiff (Koijee) the fact remains that the libelous statement made by the 2nd Defendant had damaged the reputation for which the plaintiff seeks judicial relief,” said Koijee.
According to Koijee’s petition the defendants’ lies have caused him emotional distress, mental anguish, embarrassment as Mayor of the City of Monrovia.
Cornelia Kruah-Togba contested on the ticket of the Unity Party with from the tripartite arrangement between the Liberty Party, the Unity Party and the Alternative National Congress.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, plaintiff (Koijee) prays your honour and this honorable court to rule against the 1st & 2nd defendants and find them liable to Plaintiff and grant his prayer for damages against the defendants in the amount not less than US$5,000,000 in general damages to be decided by the trial jury and US$100,000 in punitive damages” Koijee’s petition stated.
However, the legal counsel of Mayor Koijee, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, disclosed to this newspaper Wednesday, November 28 that the action of the two defendants was intended to defame the high earned reputation of the Mayor which he has built over the years.
“As I speak with you now the petition has been served the two defendants and we are looking forward to their responses for us to commence this case because we are not joking with this case because it requires the reputation of a good character,” stated Cllr. Arthur Johnson.