Amidst Series Of Criminal Accusations Against Koijee: Verdier: An Opposition Political Pawn?
Politics is said to be a “dirty game”, but in Liberia it seems deadly—to the extent that if an individual is a member of the opposition he/she should not expect employment from government, even though it is the largest employer in the country; also, an opposition member is expected to always see things from a negative perspective, even if all points to positivity. Sadly, this has been the trend of political warfare in Liberia since it achieved multiparty democracy.
Over the last five years, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government has seen many fierce critics, including politicians, student and political activists, extortionists, opportunists, etc., with the intent to either checkmate the government for the good of the people or for personal reasons. These criticisms have led to some presidential nominations being withdrawn or denied confirmation, some dismissed and some sanctioned. The likes of Nathaniel McGill, Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwanbudike and Zoely Zoe are common examples.
One of the George Weah administration’s consistent critics has been the Chairman of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Cllr. Jerome Verdier. At first, Verdier’s advocacy was bent on the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia, but recently took a different trend and persistently focused on the Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson T. Koijee.
Verdier now heads the United States-based International Justice Group (IJG), and has been working with other Liberians in the US to bring the attention of the US government to crimes, mainly human rights abuses, in Liberia.
Even though the IJG has its own format and procedure of investigating, concluding and reporting crimes, many are beginning to wonder whether Executive Director Verdier’s sole objective is to tarnish the reputation of, and bring to his knees, the head of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), as he has tied almost all the mysterious deaths, disappearances and murders to the inclination of the mayor.
Verdier has made many allegations of murder and human rights abuse against Koijee, with the latest being the murder that occurred at the home of Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, but all these allegations are observed to have been made without the corresponding evidences to indict the accused.
In 2019, Verdier accused Koijee of hiring 200 men from neighboring Ivory Coast to disrupt the June 7 protest, which was being planned by the opposition to bring the attention of the government to a series of economic and human rights concerns.
However, the protest was well executed, with the Liberia National Police (LNP) providing water for the protesters. There was no observation of any strange movement or any attempt to deter the gathering. This allegation has been laid to rest without investigating the facts or fallacies surrounding it.
Verdier is on record of accusing Koijee of being an associate of Chuckie Taylor, son of former Charles G. Taylor, who orchestrated heinous crimes against the citizenry. Besides accusing Koijee of being an associate of Chuckie, Verdier claimed that the mayor was also a child soldier who was recruited to fight the war for ex-President Taylor.
So grave from an astute lawyer and the Chairman of the TRC, other members of the TRC Bench, including Rev. Dr. Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, Rev. Gerald Coleman, Massa Washington and John Stewart, categorically refuted the allegation and clarified that the allegation did not emanate from Verdier in his capacity as the TRC Chairman. According to them, at no time did the TRC receive a statement, written or verbal, or complaint from any witness, perpetrator, person of interest, etc., suggesting that Koijee was a part of any warring faction, perpetrating group or individuals linked to gross human rights violation, war crimes or crimes against humanity.
During an opposition political protest at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission (NEC), a woman, Jestina Taylor, who claimed to be a member of Taylor’s inner circle, made unjustified allegations that Koijee is a trained killer who was assigned to Chuckie Taylor. Jestina Taylor was later sneaked out of the country by the International Justice Group (IJG), headed by Verdier, to serve as a witness against Koijee and the CDC government.
Unfortunately, it is said that Jestina Taylor was discredited by the US Congress and rendered unfit to serve as a witness. She is said to still be in the US under the watch of Verdier and the IJG.
Verdier is also on record for accusing Koijee of being the mastermind behind the deaths of the auditors who died at different locations and dates. He accused the mayor of being the executer and the leader of the CDC death squad, but with no proof to his assertions.
A day after the attack on Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott’s home in Brewerville, Verdier appeared on Spoon Talk and accused Koijee of using one of his operatives who work as Deputy Director for Operations of the Monrovia City Police, Varlee Telleh, to execute the assassination plan. He claimed that it was this same Telleh that Koijee used to murder Matthew Innis, who worked at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). According to him, Telleh was later murdered along the Bomi Highway to conceal information, but somersaulted and claimed that Telleh had been taken out to the Ivory Coast through Nimba County.
Again, this allegation has proved to be another made-up story, as the mayor has turned in Varlee Telleh to the LNP for questioning. When the victim, Cllr. Scott, visited the LNP headquarters and was questioned about Telleh being the perpetrator, she said the accuser, Verdier, should be the one to answer to that question.
When Verdier was contacted for the evidence against Telleh, he reluctantly said that he was only giving the LNP a head-up but had no evidence to provide.
These and many other allegations were made by Verdier but with no proof to support them, which is said to be bringing his esteemed reputation into questioning. Whether he is doing so for good reasons known to him or only trying to build a case against Koijee is still under investigation.
The Hot Pepper investigation reveals that in 2019 Verdier accused Koijee of having an extra marital affair with his wife, Hawa Verdier, who has since denied the allegation. He once accused ex-President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of being the reason behind the troubles in his home, accusing her of influencing his wife to poison him. Unfortunately, Hawa divorced Jerome (“with no regret”) in August 2022 for his alleged arrogance and lack of support for his children, amongst others.
The Hot Pepper could not ascertain whether Verdier is on a payback spree, but observers have accused him of being a political pawn who works at the will and pleasure of the opposition in Liberia.
An observer told the paper that, when the CDC government took over the nation’s leadership, there were names earmarked by the opposition community as the forerunners of the government and the protectors of President George M. Weah. They named the ex-Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, and Chief of Protocol to the Office of the President, Nora Finda Bundoo.
The allegation is that, if the opposition can triumph in getting rid of these individuals from around the President, he may become vulnerable to their intellectual and political chicaneries and shenanigans, and causing the failure of the regime would be at the tip of their fingers.
Koijee has managed to withstand the political tension, which started against him from the day he was nominated to serve as Mayor of Monrovia. His credentials were widespread and the Senate was called upon not to confirm him. He smoothly passed the confirmation process, but that would just be the beginning of the drama.
Koijee, who is now the Secretary General of the CDC, formerly served as Youth Chair and has some leverage with almost all student and youth leaders of his generation and beyond, and wheels the support of thousands who arguably look up to him for political direction. It can be no coincidence that he has apparently been singled out by Verdier, as pundits are of the opinion that stopping Koijee means stopping Weah and the CDC.