Liberia: Army Wives Protest Against Former Chief of Staff’s Appointment as Defense Minister

In their petition statement to the Liberian Senate, the women called for his nomination to be rejected, noting that if their demand is not met, there will be no Armed Forces Day celebration this year.

Schieffelin, Margibi County- The wives and widows of current and deceased soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia have given President Joseph Nyumah Boakai a 24 hour-ultimatum to dismiss Defense Minister Major General (retired) Prince Johnson over his alleged maltreatment of the officers and personnel of the Armed Forces.

By Jaheim T.  Tumu jaheimt.tummu@frontoageafriaonline.com

They said his appointment to his new role is not in the interest of the soldiers, their their family and widows and widowers of both living and deceased men and women who served the army. They described him as a “dreadful, power-drunk, inhumane, impassionate, corrupt and blood-sucking vampire.”

On Saturday morning, spouses of the soldiers went on the rampage to show their disapproval. They set up roadblocks, held placards with anti-Johnson’s slogans and called on President Joseph Boakai to rescind the former Chief of Staff’s nomination for what they termed as the inhumane treatment meted against husbands by him and his former boss, Ex-Defense Minister Daniel Ziankan.

“We have come here today as the voices of those gallant men who by laws: the constitution, the Defense Acts, the Geneva Conventions and rendering them as duck fowl organization who cannot voice out their pains, frustrations, deprivations, marginalization, untold poverty willfully, deliberately placed upon us and our children by the former defense minister retired general Daniel Ziankan and his chief architect, the modern pharaoh of our time in person of Major General Price  Charles Johnson,” the army wives said.

They accused General Johnson and former Minister Ziankan of unfair employment practice. Under their leadership, they said there was no sound retirement policy and soldiers and families live in poor housing facilities.

Major General Johnson (retired) led the army during the administration of President George Weah from 2018 to 2024.

He was nominated by President Boakai to serve as Minister of National Defense, and if confirmed by the Liberian Senate, he will replace Daniel Ziankain who served the role for the last six years under the past administration.

There was no major protest against the defense minister-designate during his reign as Army Chief of Staff. However, there were reports of disillusionment by some members of the army and their wives over the ‘maltreatment’ meted out against them by General Johnson.

As he is about to take on a higher role as defense minister, it appears that the women have had enough.

In their petition statement to the Liberian Senate, the women called for his nomination to be rejected, noting that if their demand is not met, there will be no Armed Forces Day celebration this year.

“We the wives represented the various military centers including the Camp Tubman Military Barracks in Grand Gedeh County, Gbarnga Military Barracks in Bong County, Todee Military Barracks in Montserrado County, Lofa Military Barracks, Coast Guard and Star Base Military Barracks, the Military Police Barracks at the Smell No Taste, Roberts International AirPort and the home of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, the Edward Beyan Kesseley Military Barracks in Lower Margibi County.

They, among other things, accused General Johnson of not remitting all of the monies and benefits of AFL soldiers on UN peacekeeping missions abroad. They accused General Johnson and former Minister Ziankan of unfair employment practice. Under their leadership, they said there was no sound retirement policy and soldiers and families live in poor housing facilities.

The protesters barricaded the main road leading to the Roberts International Airport for houses, leaving travelers departing the country at risk of missing out on their flights as the result of the barricade in front the barracks.

This drew the attention of the government and the international community. The women told ECOWAS Resident Representative Josephine Nkrumah and Police Inspector General Gregory Coleman that their husbands were deliberately deprived and marginalized by Gen. Johnson and former Defense Minister, Ziankan. Despite the meeting with the Police Chief and Ms. Nkrumah, the women continued their protest until Vice President Koung intervened.  The women reportedly gave a 24 hour-ultimatum to convey a meeting with the President to ensure an amicable solution.

They, however, maintained that Johnson’s dismissal is not out of the discussion because he lacks interest in former and current soldiers.

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