Monrovia – On April 5, this yr Fubbi Henries joined scores of protesters on the streets of Monrovia. They rallied for accountability for crimes committed during Liberia’s 14-year civil struggle (1989 – 2003) and the pillaging of the nation’s coffers even up to immediately. Dressed in white T-shirts, they brandished placards saying: “We Demand War and Economic Crimes Court”. The protest ended peacefully, leaving the impression that that they had banished the demons of Liberia’s April hoodoo.
Report by James Harding Giahyue, New Narratives Senior Justice Correspondent
That April protest was Fubbi’s second since he turned head of the Citizens United for War and Financial Crimes Courts in Liberia in March 2018 to petition the House of Representatives at the Legislature to set up a courtroom. Though the petition has yet to get a response from the Capitol, Fubbi is firm in his advocacy.
“We are going to keep pushing until we can get justice,” he tells FrontPage Africa.
He is a regular Fb consumer, and this previous Easter Sunday he provided his followers “history lessons” on Liberia’s darkish previous. A collage of struggle pictures varieties his cover photograph. Fubbi’s has a Radio Monrovia program on justice and he seizes each opportunity to get his message across.
Fubbi gets the impulse for his advocacy from the experiences he had throughout the conflict. He was born in 1979, the similar yr of the Rice Riot, where protestors fought with the police, led to the deaths of no less than 40 individuals and injured 500, which marked precise beginning of the Liberian Civil War. Earlier than he turned one, the April 12, 1980 coup d’état by Samuel Okay. Doe toppled the government of then President William R. Tolbert and the Americo Liberian regime which had dominated Liberian politics since the settlers arrived from America to colonize the area in 1821. Doe killed Tolbert and 13 members of his cabinet, together with Richard Henries, Fubbi’s grandfather who was Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time. The struggle that so scarred the country broke out on Fubbi’s 10th birthday, December 29, 1989. He says the struggle stole his childhood and changed it with horrid reminiscences eternally.
“I was at JFK on August 2, 1990 when the JFK Massacre took place…” Fubbi recollects the bloodbath through which the Fact and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report in 2009 stated soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) loyal to then President Samuel Okay. Doe killed 250 individuals. “They were placed in pickups and taken to the James Spriggs Payne Airfield for execution. The very first dead bodies I saw with my two eyes were at JFK,” he says.
One other warfare memory that Fubbi says retains haunting him was that of two individuals who have been pressured to have sex in a roadside pond on Bushrod Island. Bushrod Island, in response to Fubbi, was beneath the management of Senator Prince Johnson, then chief of the Unbiased Nationwide Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). “Those are things, when you keep thinking about them, the memory stays fresh.”
Fubbi fled to Ghana together with his family on September three, 1990—barely a week before President Doe was killed by Prince Johnson and his males—and stayed there until 1999. But life on the refugee camp was far from better. “Growing up as a refugee in Ghana was also another stressful life for any African child,” Fubbi recollects. His family couldn’t manage a meal everyday, he says, and lots of days they ate at 11 pm. “Those were experiences we don’t want to see our children go through.”
On April 24, 1999 Fubbi moved again to Liberia together with his household on a United Nations repatriation program, but they met the Liberia United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) incursion in Lofa County. The warfare would proceed up to 2003 when then President Charles Taylor—having been elected in 1997—stepped down. Taylor went into exile in Nigeria in an ECOWAS-brokered deal to lastly cease the hostilities in Liberia. (Taylor is now serving a 50-year time period in a British prison for crimes he dedicated in neighboring Sierra Leone.)
“If you see the traces, it has had so much negative impact on me,” Fubbi says, including he had to drop his ambition to be an agriculturalist to pursue a profession in accounting, as a result of the Stella Maris Polytechnic school of agriculture in Bomi was in crossfire between pro-government militia and LURD. “Growing up, there were a lot of opportunities that…many Liberians missed because of the war. These are things that when we think about them we hold them in high esteem and say we need justice…”
Fubbi isn’t just an advocate. He’s a politician as nicely, and has twice contested a seat in Montserrado District #9 and misplaced. In the final elections in 2017, his platform was the reduction of the salary and allowances of lawmakers. Before that, he advocated towards the passage into regulation of the Affirmative Motion Bill that sought to provide ladies 30 % of the seats in at the Legislature.
His advocacy towards the Affirmative Action Bill was profitable however not the one with the wage and allowances of lawmakers. However his lack of political victory up to now has not damaged his resolve, not even by an inch. “The citizens as a whole have not embraced the vision yet,” he says. “They only get there and talk about it, and when you bring it out they say you want to be representative. Things that I believe in—whether in government or out of government—I am still going to push. I don’t necessarily have to be in government to stand up for the things I strongly believe in. I intend to contest. I will keep contesting for public office until I reach the age that I cannot. If I am successful, I will go and push my vision.”
If Fubbi manages to get a seat in the Legislature, he can be the first Henries in a public position since the execution of his grandfather. The Henrieses have prevented public office since 1980, he tells FrontPage Africa. Many who fled Liberia after the bloody coup haven’t returned. Those that stay in Liberia are legal professionals, businesspeople and, among others, accountants. They do not need to end up dealing with an executioner.
But Fubbi sees the tragedy of his grandfather as an inspiration moderately than a dangerous omen for the household. He dismisses the worry expressed by his kin and asks for calm. “I told them that me and my grandfather don’t have the same fate,” he says with a shrug. “I am not tied to whatever happened to him. I should only learn from what happened and ensure that I don’t repeat the things that were done during his era of leadership, especially the negative ones,” he says. He says a Liberian struggle crimes courtroom will probably be a tribute to his grandfather and the roughly 250,000 individuals who died throughout the struggle.
Fubbi, nevertheless, disagrees that staying away from politics prevents the household from a tragedy like the one which befell his grandfather. When the late Speaker Henries was arrested after the night time of the coup, Fubbi remembers, the troopers took his relations with him in jail. The truth is, Fubbi says, the white material wrapped round the waist of his doomed grandfather was the shirt considered one of his sons. He says it’s an obligation to speak out, protest and disagree. It isn’t a selection.
“We see that with our guys,” he says of his analogy. “Now they have a new idol, everything seems right. Nothing is wrong as long as it’s from their idol George Weah. When you point it out, you’re enemy of the state.”
Franklin Henries, Fubbi’s father, was initially concerned about his son’s safety but now helps him in his endeavor. He needed him to be an entrepreneur and an innovator like Invoice Gates but says he couldn’t temper with Fubbi’s destiny. He only asks that Fubbi be principled.
“Later on I had a reflection and I realized that from small he has always been interested in politics,” Mr. Henries says of Fubbi, the fourth of his 15 youngsters. “I said, ‘Maybe that is his calling. Who am I to say don’t do it?’”
Fubbi has are available for criticism from politicians and advocates alike. Advocates say his political affiliation draws the marketing campaign for justice into the political fray, while politicians say he’s in the pocket of Alexander Cummings, the leader of the Various Nationwide Congress (ANC) whose ticket he ran on in 2017.
However he enjoys the confidence of some conflict courtroom campaigners like Franklin Wesseh, who alongside him petitioned the Legislature for the courtroom final yr. “Throughout my working with him, I’ve known him to be a very honest young man, hardworking, results-oriented,” says Wesseh.
“When I started affiliating with him in pursuit of the establishment of war and economic crimes courts, lots of people were like ‘He belongs to a political party and might be infusing his political sentiments in his advocacy’, but I did not see that from him,” Wesseh says. “He was very purposeful and straight to the objectives, advocacy, which calls for the establishment of war and economic crimes courts.”
Fubbi has an recommendation for all these advocating for the courtroom. “The necessary precaution is just know who to hang out with. Don’t be at places you know you don’t feel secure being. You have to draw that thin line.”
This story was a collaboration with New Narratives as a part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Undertaking.
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