By Mark N. Mengonfia- firstname.lastname@example.org
MONROVIA-Across the road in the above image is a building that used to be very white during the days of jailed former Liberian President, Charles Ghankay Taylor and that building was called White Flower.
The area that motorcyclists are currently sanding in the photo was a no-go-zone as securities during those days, could not allow you pass there, needles to talk about stopping anywhere near there.
Those days are now history as the one time White Flower has changed colours.
A banner carrying the inscription: “Free Charles Ghankay Taylor Movement” attracted many Liberians and it made them to stop.
Some stopped to inquire what was going on in front of the former president’s home while others got the information that it was an on-going campaign that is seeking signatures for the jailed former president to be free.
August 11, 2022, Liberians started trooping their ways at White House to voluntarily sign form that is seeking for the release of the former Liberian leader.
They are of hope of raising a million plus signatures that will seek for the forgiveness of Mr. Taylor who is serving 50 years jail in London after being sentenced by International Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
The process of signing the form started Aug 11, 2022 is on-going and Liberians men, women, boys and girls are making their ways and at the same time informing others to sign for the release of their former president.
This reporter encountered few of those who signed the document and they are hopeful that Taylor will be released once they can get the needed signatures that will help plead with citizens of Serra Leone and also those of the international community for Taylor to be set free.
Mr. Victor O. Bainda has just packed his jeep opposite White House to also sign.
Few minutes after signing the document, Bainda said, “For me, wanting to free Charles from prison will be one of the good things for Liberians.”
He said, if there is any other necessary means that we Liberians can do for the international community to accept for Taylor to be free, I will be part of it.
Bainda said, “I love the leadership style of President Taylor. He is a man of his word.”
According to him, Taylor was one of the Liberian leaders who stood by what he said and he has the posture of a president.
Before I could ask him if he will vote for the former Liberian president if and when he is freed and wants to participate in politics, Bainda could not let me finish my word and he answered in the affirmative.
Bainda is not the only person who wants Taylor free.
Old man Varney Jalibah was on board a taxicab leaving for home when he saw the banner that says, “Free Charles Ghankay Taylor Movement.”
“I asked the driver to stop for me to sign. If my signing will result to Charles Taylor coming back to Liberia, it will be the happiest thing that happens to me” Mr. Jalibah said with laughter across his face.
Princess Jerbo said from the time she got to know herself as a lady, it was under the Taylor’s regime as President she felt real leadership.
“I love Charles Taylor, Liberian people love him, he knows how to use power and he is a man with rules. If Ghankay comes back, Liberia will be sweet”, Madam Jerbo said.
Shradrick Korkor who appeared very happy with high hope that the former Liberian leader is set free said, “Charles Taylor is my dad. His going to The Hague changed by life.
Shradrick used to work with Benjamin Yeaten, former head of Special Security Service (SSS) now Executive Protection Service (EPS) and he served as Special aid to the SSS boss back in those days.
Shradrick now is a motorcyclist, but with this on-going campaign, he cannot just hold back his joy stating, “I am not happy that Charles Taylor is in The Hague, I am happy now because we will get the 1million signatures for him to come back.”
If Taylor is set free, Will there be need for War and Economic Crime Court?
Former Liberian president, Charles Taylor is not in The Hague because of crimes committed in Liberia, but was convicted by United Nations backed court for crimes committed in neighbouring Serra Leone during their dark years of that country.
Some Liberians have seen the conviction of the former Liberian leader as a witch hunt while others saw it as a victory to injustice and crime against humans.
Those who see it as a victory for human rights want the court replicated in Liberia.
Liberians have on many occasions taken to the streets seeking for justice for their dead during the prolonged civil unrest in Liberia that took away over 250,000 lives and millions of dollars’ worth of properties destroyed.
They mounted pressure by presenting petitions to members of the Liberian legislature.
Over 300,000 signatures in a petition were also presented US congressional caucus crying out for the establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia.
At one point in time, members of the House of Representatives of Liberia Petition were
soliciting signatures that expected to petition the international community for the establishment War and Economic Crime Court in Liberia for those who committed mischiefs during the civil war of Liberia to pay for their political ‘sin’
When the process that sought for said establishment was on-going, views were mixed.
Some were for, as others were totally against it.
Some citizens in Nimba County said that their County was no-go-zone for said discussion.
Senator Prince Yormie Johnson alias “PYJ” is one person who becomes irritated and distasteful to hear the establishment of the court.
He fought during the civil unrest and headed the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) and has often said he and others who fought the war received amnesty after the Ghana Pace accord was sighed.
Speaking about the establishment of the court, Senator Johnson described any documents of such nature as “toilet paper”.
Representative Larry Yonquoi responding to the issue of the signatures for the release of former Liberian President said, “It is the right of those who are seeking for the release of Taylor.”
The original copy of the signed signatures from the lawmakers was misplaced by Representative Suacoco Dennis and they are now working on a new one that will call for the War and Economic Crime Court to be established.
Yonquoi said when the Weah’s leadership was in opposition, it craved for the establishment of said court, but to his dismay, the Weah-led government is dragging his feet on the establishment of the court.
According to the Nimba lawmaker, the future of Liberia is bleak under the presidency of President George M. Weah whom he said, is habitually using the country’s resources at the detriment of the ordinary people of Liberia.
According to him, if the signing that is seeking for the release of Taylor goes through and he is out of jail, it means that the establishment of a War and Economic Crime Court in Liberia is a wasted effort and might muddy the political water of Liberia.
“So, let allow sleeping dog to lie down”, he said.
It is now a two ways street with one calling for the court to be established and other wanting to ensure that Taylor’s White Flower returns to its original color as it is the hope of many Liberians who are signing for his release.
Be as it may, pundits observed that freeing Taylor is an issue all Liberians must study carefully, considering the several ramifications most of whom bordered on security; and that the nation is not keen on the would-be aims and objectives of the followers of Taylor who could see the coming back home of Taylor to became operating and functioning as business as usual, something that could be detrimental to harmony and shared peace.