... For 'wrongfully' linking him to heinous crimes
Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee has threatened a lawsuit against the former Chairman of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Cllr. Jerome Verdier, for allegedly linking him (Koijee) to a commission of 'heinous crimes.'
In Cllr. Verdier's recent article, entitled, "The Koijee's Dossier," he accused Koijee of being an associate of the son of former President Charles Taylor, referencing the allegation made my Jestina Taylor that she saw Mr. Koijee with Chuckie Taylor. Verdier also accused Koijee of being the architect of series of human rights violation in the Weah-led administration; making specific reference to the Montserrado County electoral violence in which Koijee was accused of allegedly ordering the flogging of peaceful citizens.
The Verdier article was published in several local dailies, including the People's newspaper, a satirical bulletin in Monrovia.
However, Mayor Koijee said it is unfortunate for an individual, who is held in high esteem, to embark on a "smear campaign" aimed at tarnishing his (Koijee's) hard earned reputation by associating him with "Liberia's painful past."
Koijee: "I worked with Jerome Verdier during my days in advocacy when he served as chairperson of the TRC. He knows me very well. He knows my history. He knows that I was one of those young persons who went to jail because of our advocacy for the establishment of the TRC. We worked with the Commission, which Jerome Verdier chaired, to protect the TRC report despite many attempts by perpetrators of the war to undermine this national instrument. It is therefore sad that I have now become a major target for Cllr. Verdier to the extent that he will accuse me of being a participant of the civil war, which I know nothing about."
Mayor Koijee expressed the belief that the attempt to have him painted as one of the perpetrators of the 14-year bloody civil crisis in the country indicates that Verdier and his likes intend to undermine the TRC report.
"It pains me that people are bent on undermining the TRC report, because the nation and partners collectively invested huge money in this national instrument. We also put our all in the process to get the report to where it is, and as such, we will not sit idly by and see it get destroyed," Koijee told journalists recently at a news conference in Monrovia.
According to him, in order to save Liberia, people must be held accountable for whatever they did during the war (1989-2003). No one should walk with impunity for infringing on the rights of others or treating others wrongly.
Koijee said that if a citizen claims to truly love Liberia as true nationalists and patriots, they will stand above their personal interests and summon a great sense of accountability by welcoming a full implementation of the TRC report, instead of trying to bring the entire report into public disrepute.
The establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court, he said, is an instrument much-needed in Liberia's flagship democracy.
Mayor Koijee, however, said he does not think that what is being paraded by Verdier linking him to the commission of crimes is a representation of the former TRC Board of Commissioners, and as such, he wants all the Commissioners, including Massa Washington and John Stewart, to publicly save the TRC report by disassociating themselves from former Chairman Verdier's accusations against him.
Mayor Koijee wants Verdier to stop playing politics with the TRC Report, which he said is a key interest to every Liberian and the international community.
"My history can be traced from student advocacy to national politics. I am not preventing you from accusing me falsely, all I can say to you is provide the evidence to substantiate your unjustified claims against me. Provide the facts, and let the people of Liberia judge me by what you present," Koijee told journalists.
Mayor Koijee further said he believes that Cllr. Verdier is being manipulated by others to kill the TRC Report. He said if Verdier's allegations cannot be substantiated, then he is defeating the entire report on grounds that others may believe that the report was drafted on the basis of misinformation and inducement.
"You cannot be attacking a messenger of the TRC Report. I am not a secret person to hide any 'evil deals,' assuming that I was part of the deals. People who are linking us are those who felt that our advocacy for the War and Economics Crimes Court could be undermined by the position we hold in government. They are mistaken, we are who we are. I am the same Koijee, who advocated for war crimes court yesterday, and I am the same Koijee, who is advocating for War and Economics Crimes Court today," he said.
Mayor Koijee said he has contacted lawyers both locally and internationally to prepare every legal document to pursue a case against Cllr. Verdier.
Koijee recently renewed calls for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court, while on an official visit in Washington D.C., to ensure the prosecution of those accused of perpetrating atrocities during the 14 years of bloody civil war in order to ensure lasting peace and social healing.
Mayor Koijee is also the Youth League Chair of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). He wants those who committed mayhem in Liberia to account for their actions through a court of competent jurisdiction.
Koijee is of the strong conviction that the ultimate means to sustaining peace, genuine reconciliation and development in the country is through the establishment of the court.
"We must seek to end the scourge of impunity by using the law and holding people accountable for their wrongdoings," Mayor Koijee told journalists.
He lauded President George Weah for making moves that may lead to the establishment of an Economic and War Crimes Court.
President Weah submitted recommendations to the Legislature and sought advice on addressing human rights violations, war and economic crimes committed during the 14-year-long Liberian civil wars which ended in 2003.