Fallah Johnson, one of Liberia’s football power houses during the country’s golden years of football, was a household name whose achievement on the football field puts him among the elite of Liberian
football heroes who took Liberia’s football to a new frontier and a team to reckon with on the African continent playing with the greatest football player in Africa, the FIFA 1995 World Best Player, George Oppong Weah.
Fallah Johnson met his misfortune in January, 2011 when an unexpected ordeal be felled him in Bangkok, Thailand while preparing to leave for Indonesia where he was locating for a new job he had obtained when security authorities in Thailand arrested him on charges that his Liberian passport was fake and has since remained languishing in prison in Thailand.
Speaking from the United States yesterday, Bill T. Johnson, brother of Fallah Johnson told this outlet that since his brother was arrested and subsequent imprisonment, he (Bill Johnson), the family, and friends of Fallah Johnson have employed all effort in contacting the Liberia Football Association (LFA) and the government and informed them of the former Lone Star player predicament in Thailand, appealing for their intervention to secure his release.
All that is needed, Bill T Johnson says, is for the Liberian government or LFA to send a delegation to Thailand or establish communication with the Thai government and clarify that Fallah Johnson passport was indeed issued by the Liberian government and it is authentic and not a fake passport contrary to what the Thai government is claiming.
Bill Johnson says despite their efforts, the Liberia Football Association and the Liberian government with no empathy to Fallah Johnson’s predicament, have turned a blind eye to his brother’s plight ignoring the sacrifice Fallah Johnson rendered Liberia as a former player of the Liberian national football team, the Lone Star who helped thrust Liberia’s football to a world reputation and the golden days of Liberian football.
“The Liberian government doesn’t know its obligation to its citizens, it is the responsibility of the Liberian government to seek the well-being of its citizens living in foreign countries like any other government, to step in and intervene to understand the situation and work with that foreign government to resolve the situation”, Bill Johnson lashed out his disappointment about the Liberian government’s lackadaisical attitude regarding the grave plight of his brother, a father of two and a husband who needs to get out of the situation he finds himself and get back to work to provide for his family.
The wife of Fallah Johnson took matters into her own hands recently in frustration with the football association failure to make any attempt to resolve her husband’s plight when she went to LFA’s office to press the association to intervene since it is the relevant institution to lead the intervention, working with the Liberian Foreign Ministry and coordinate with their counterpart in Thailand to secure the release of Fallah Johnson.
“Fallah Johnson plight is not about money, it is the situation about government to government interaction, the Thai government insist that for Fallah Johnson to be released, the Liberian government must clarify and validate that his passport was indeed issued by the Liberian government and it is authentic”, Bill Johnson said. “But this least demand from the Thai government which Fallah Johnson’s family and friends have communicated to the Liberian government and LFA, they refused to accord his plight any attention while he suffers in prison in Bangkok for committing no crime, abandoning him to his fate”, Bill Johnson said in an interview yesterday from the United States.
The frustration from Fallah Johnson’s family and friends about the Liberian government and football association blatant refusal to get involve in resolving his plight in Thailand and the subsequent action of his wife to take matters into her own hands reached its epiphany after an Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister of Liberia, Witherspoon appeared on Liberia’s number one internet radio in the United States, Radio Liberia few months ago and was told by Randolph Darpo, a friend of Fallah Johnson appealed to the Minister for his ministry and the government to intervene and to secure the former Lone Star striker release. Minister Witherspoon, without inquiring about the details of the situation, hastily rushed to judgement by saying “Liberians must abide by the laws of those foreign countries in which they live and if they commit a crime in those foreign countries, they must pay the price for their crimes.” The minister did not respond to how his ministry and the Liberian government would intervene to secure the release of Fallah Johnson since the demand from the Thai government is the least of hassle being requested to release the former Lone Star striker.
The Liberian government action to ignore Fallah Johnson’s plight and leave him to his fate is a systemic pattern of the government, refusing to care about Liberians living abroad and intervene in crisis if its citizen is caught in problem in the foreign country in which they live, is yet another cultural pattern of the government to leave its own citizens to their fate in times of crisis in the foreign countries they live .
The Liberian government in recent event endangered the lives of its own citizens living in the Ivory Coast when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a press conference told the world that Liberians were hired as mercenaries and were fighting for the Ivorian President Laurent Gbargbo in that country’s civil war. The President statement led to Liberians to be targeted in Ivory coast by the Outtara’s rebels for persecution and many lost their lives because they were Liberians. Today, Liberians stranded in the Ivory Coast are living in danger fearing reprisal killings. The government paid a blind eye to Liberians trapped in Ivory Coast’s civil war appealed for help to be evacuated out; the government instead, only evacuated its Ambassador and left Liberians to their fate.
Another established pattern of lackadaisical attitude of the Liberian government concerning its citizens living abroad, is the situation in which Liberian refugees living in Ghana came under attack from Ghanaian state security forces, the refugees were beaten, tortured, and others killed. When Liberian media reported that Liberians were killed in Ghana by that country’s security forces and their refugee camp ransacked, the government and its Ambassador to Ghana categorically denied any Liberian was killed; going further to accuse the refugees, his own citizens of not abiding by the laws of Ghana. The government, hours later, withdrew its assertion that no Liberian was killed after the Liberian media backed up their story by publishing the pictorial evidence of the gruesome dead bodies of Liberian refugees killed by the Ghanaian state security forces, those sent to jail and the vandalized refugee camp.
The government promised to investigate the situation in Gahan, but several months after, the Liberian people and the world have yet to hear or know anything on the refugees’ plight and the investigation it promised. The Liberian government yet to ask for explanation from Ghanaian President John Atta Mills about the actions of his government against harmless Liberian refugees.
The New Dispensation wishes to add its voice to the family and friends of Fallah Johnson to appeal to Ambassador George Weah, a football icon, respected around the world to personally intervene in Fallah’s ordeal by establishing contact with the Thai football association and government and use his high profile status to pressure the Liberian government and LFA to secure release Fallah Johnson.
For the Liberian government, this outlet demands that it lives up to its constitutional responsibility by immediately takin action to secure the release of Fallah Johnson who gave so much to the Liberian nation through his talents we all enjoyed; it is about time we gave back as nation and people to Fallah Johnson and his family.