The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Looking At Sen. Prince Johnson’s Claim Against Archbishop Michael Francis

By Atty Philip N.Wesseh (PNW)
While en route to work on Monday morning, I received information that Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson made some comments against the Catholic Church and the late Archbishop Michael “K. Francis during his (Sen. Johnson) regular Sunday preaching at his Church in Paynesville, near the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) outside Monrovia.

Actually, the person did not say all what the Senator said. Fortunately, for me, while going home on Monday night, I had the opportunity to hear some of what he said against the Catholic Church and the late Archbishop who former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf once rightly described as “THE CONSCIENCE OF THE LIBERIAN SOCIETY” because of his uncompromising role in dealing with the ills in the society.

As I listened attentively to FREEDOM FM news read by David Targbeh last Monday night, I heard the Senator, among other things that the Archbishop went to the Po River, during which time he offered “PRAYERS” for the forces of the misnamed Liberians United for Reconstruction and Development (LURD) to succeed in their quest for power.

Howbeit, as I do this piece, I would be careful with my choice of words because the Senator is an honorable person and a respectable son of Nimba County. I am concerned about his diatribe against the late Archbishop because the Senator is insinuating that the late Archbishop was in support of the activities of the rebel group, when there are facts that he spoke against violence in all forms , as well as human rights violations.

In addition, the late Archbishop was among those religious leaders, including the late Sheikh Kafumah Konneh, who initiated the process to end the conflict.

Indeed, I am not a Catholic, but a Methodist. Nevertheless, this is not about religion, but about an issue I know about because I followed the activities of the late Archbishop when I joined the mainstream journalism, his stance or comments on national issues made headlines, something every journalist would be interested in because news is anything of “PUBLIC INTEREST,” as the late Archbishop spoke in the interest of the public; that is, the Liberian people; he was indeed an extrovert.

Besides, I covered many activities of the civil conflict in Monrovia. Like Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh and other Liberians, I have been “ON THE GROUND,” as such, I am au courant with many activities.

Never during the conflict or arrival of LURD or any rebel groups that the late Archbishop offered prayers, as the Senator, the former leader of the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), tried to insinuate or derogatorily portray. In fact, all of the rebel groups were not complimentary about the late Archbishop because he was an antithesis of violence and human rights violation.

Let me say that I respect the rights of the Senator to speak out on issues, but on this one, I beg to differ with him because the late Archbishop was never involved in such act. Frankly, at times we play the politics, but the Senator should be someone who should be thankful and grateful to the late Archbishop because of his positive role in Nimba County, that the Senator represents.

I have not lived in Nimba, but only visited as a journalist. My first visit was when the late Willis Knuckles, then Editor of the Daily Observer assigned the then Photo Editor Sando Moore and me to Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties to do a supplement (advertisement) for the then Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC). The next trip was to cover the PEACE TALKS in November 1987 that brought the late President Samuel K. Doe and the late Jackson F. Doe, of the then opposition Liberian Action Party (LAP) together in Sanniquellie City.

But I am told that the Archbishop, while serving in the county of the Senator, is credited for providing education for many Nimbaians, many of whom are in top positions in the public and private sectors.

I am told that he visited villages, the poor and assisted in educating many in the country. The present Chief Justice, His Honor Francis Saye Korkpor is a living witness of this. However, I know that because of his position and the politics, he may not want to get involved in such matter. Another person is former Education Minister, Dr. Joseph Korto and Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, the president of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), they all can attest to this.

Once more with due respect to the Senator, let me conclude by saying that the late Archbishop never offered prayers for any rebel group to take over power. To even make such an insinuation is an affront to his integrity and reputation.

Yes, we at times, may want to play the politics, but we should be thankful to God that he gave us someone like the late Archbishop Francis who did not “eat crab with shame;” someone who spoke out against the ills and vices in society no matter who or what group was involved.

As a journalist who has been in the practice for nearly 40 years, I can emphatically say that the late Archbishop played a positive role in the Liberian society. I admired him for his stance against human rights violation, corruption and other vices in society. We will always miss him for impacting the lives of Liberians.

To him, I say, well done that good and faithful servant; you have left your footprint on the sand of time.


I Rest My Case.

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