Roosevelt Johnson Vs. Charles Taylor : October 18, 1998

February 16, 1998...Roosevelt Johnson, Minister of Rural Development in the Taylor government accused Liberia's President Charles Taylor of filling the ranks of all Liberia's security agencies, the army, police, etc., with former members of the Taylor-led rebel faction, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. Johnson was quoted as saying.."I am sorry to say, I know it hurts, but that is a fact. At the Ministry of Defense,(everyone from the Minister down to the last private is a NPFL ex-combatant".  

March 2, 1998... Liberia's President Charles Taylor accused dissident groups based in Sierra Leone of plotting to overthrow his government. Taylor, in a nationwide address, warned that any group who tries to overthrow his government would be crushed by his government's sixty thousands well-equipped fighters.

March 17, 1998..Roosevelt Johnson accused the Taylor government security of wanting to kill him. He said heavily armed men from the Taylor Presidential Special Security Service surrounded his Camp Johnson Road residence in central Monrovia at mid-night in an attempt to kill him. Johnson said three of his bodyguards were arrested at his residence by the Taylor security agents who took them to the Executive Mansion where they were detained, tortured and severely beaten. The names of the bodyguards are: Arthur Jallah, James Tokpah and Philip Rambo.

March 24, 1998...Shooting was reported on Camp Johnson Rd involving Johnson's bodyguards and the Taylor government security forces.

April, 1998...Roosevelt Johnson was dismissed as Rural Development Minister, and re-appointed Liberia's ambassador to India.

May, 1998...Roosevelt Johnson traveled to the United States for medical treatment. Taylor reportedly contributed $46,000.00 for Johnson's trip. .

June 7, 1998....six Liberians believed to be former fighters of Roosevelt Johnson's ULIMO-J rebel movement disappeared, with news reports indicating that they were pickup by the Taylor government security forces while trying to leave the country at the Roberts International Airport. Those reported missing, and have not been found are Joseph Cole, Moses Monjloh, Junior Yormie, and two other only identified as Amos and Sacker. Johnson accused the Taylor government of abducting and executing these Liberians.

July 1 & 2, 1998...Dr. Vamba Kanneh, former minister of health, revealed that there is a "threat" on his life. Dr. Kanneh made the revelation after he said he was informed by President Taylor of security reports linking him to a coup plot that would have made him the speaker of the House of Representatives. He blamed the police for what he called "misinformation" and called for the replacement of Taylor's police and cousin Joseph Tate.  

Taylor, through his deputy minister of information, Milton Teahjay, accused Roosevelt Johnson of planning subversion to "destabilize" the country. Teahjay said Johnson was soliciting money from several countries for his operation. He refused to name the countries. Teahjay added that Taylor made the allegations at a meeting with leading opposition politicians, religious leaders and traditional chiefs at the Executive Mansion. Without naming any source, Teahjay said Mr. Taylor has received reports and that the government was investigating the matter. 

August 10, 1998: After his medical treatment to the United States, Roosevelt Johnson returned to Liberia, and unknown to the Taylor regime, secretly entered the country with the help of the former ECOMOG..(West African Peace keeping force stationed in Liberia)..Chief of Staff General Abdul One Mohamed, and was escorted to his house under heavy security by ECOMOG. Liberia's ruler Charles Taylor called on his National Patriotic Party controlled legislature to declare Roosevelt Johnson enemy of the state. In order to ease the growing tension between the Taylor government and Roosevelt Johnson, members of Liberian civil society asked that a meeting be held to settle the issue once and for all. 

August 28, 1998: The meeting was planned to take place at the Executive Mansion. Roosevelt Johnson failed to show up. A delegation led by Catholic Archbishop Francis and Methodist Bishop Arthur Kulah went to Camp Johnson Road to meet with Roosevelt Johnson. Upon arriving at Johnson house, Edward Slangar, a Johnson spokesman, said they had decided the night before for Johnson not to attend the meeting. Others who took part in the discussion with delegation included Charles Breeze and Armah Youlo, who the Taylor government described as Johnson supporters. During the discussions, gunfire erupted, and in the pandemonium, one Johnson's bodyguards, code named General "Pepper Soup" was gunned by a gun shot the Taylor government reported came from the gun of an ECOMOG soldier.

September 18, 1998: Early Friday evening, the Taylor regime deployed its security forces around Camp Johnson Road after accusing Roosevelt Johnson of harboring arms and creating a city within a city. Gun fight broke out between Roosevelt Johnson armed supporters and the Taylor government security forces. The fighting lasted for over 12 hours.

September 19, 1998: Roosevelt Johnson and some of his supporters made their way to the US Embassy. The Taylor regime security forces, led Police Commissioner Joseph Tate, followed Mr. Johnson and his supporters. Johnson managed to enter the embassy, but six of his supporters were gunned down by Taylor's security forces at the front gates of the embassy, one of them was Madison Wion, two US Embassy security forces sustained injuries. Immediately after fighting, the Taylor embarked on a massive campaign to minimize the impact of the situation by suppressing the number of dead. The Taylor government information Minister Joe Mulbah first announced that the number of dead, mainly Johnson’s supporters was 52, the number was quickly changed to 65 by the Taylor government Minister of Defense Daniel Chea. 

September 20, 1998: Independent reports put the number of dead to 1000, including a massacre of 300 persons who took refuge in a church on Camp Johnson Road. Their bodies were discovered early Sunday morning by the pastor and other officials of the church. It was also reported by survivors of another massacred by Taylor government security forces, led by Charles Taylor Jr., in an old government building on Gurley Street. 

Mr. Roosevelt Johnson and his remaining supporters who entered the US Embassy were later air lifted to Sierra Leone and flew to Nigeria for exile.

 Research Done By P Nimely-Sie Tuon

Sources (Various Liberian and international news reporting on Liberia)