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No! Gun Woman standing by Charles Taylor’s ex-wife not Senator Kanger Lawrence

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Claim: Viral image of a gun woman is being paraded on Facebook with captions suggesting her to be Senator Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence 

The viral image of an armed woman standing by Charles Taylor’s former wife, Agnes Taylor, is not senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence as suggested in several Facebook posts.

Full Text

Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence (LP, Grand Bassa County), the Political leader of the Liberty Party, has for weeks come under intense scrutiny over a viral image circulated on Facebook by several users.

The image shows Mrs. Agnes Taylor, Charles Taylor’s ex-wife, flanked by a woman attired in a military outfit with a long gun on her right shoulder. 

Facebook posters have suggested that the woman carrying a gun in the photograph is Senator Kangar-Lawrence, who chairs the Liberian Senate’s Committee on Rules Order and Administration.

The picture went viral at a time when advocacy for accountability for widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that characterized two brutal armed conflicts between 1989 and 2003 have heightened in weeks.

Earlier, Nimba County Senator, Prince Johnson, who according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report bears some of the greatest responsibilities of the wars accused Senator Kanger-Lawrence in the plenary of the Liberian Senate of being a rebel fighter.

A Facebook user by name Adama Senatorbiney Cousin Fofana posted on the image with the caption: “Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence in a situation she can’t handle”.

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His post was followed by two others, one from a popular block named- Pepper Bird and another account named RDTV.C:\Users\user\Desktop\b117f513-20a9-4b0a-900b-be1c06f70c53.jpg

What was surprising to many was a post  with the same image from Ms. Wade Williams, a former desk editor of FrontPageAfricaNewspaper who now resides in the United States. Wade posted to Facebook a cropped version of the viral image tagging Senator Lawrence as “bodyguard” during the wars. 

Verification

According to Mrs. Agnes Reeves Taylor, the former wife of Charles Taylor (the woman standing on the right in the photo), the picture was taken at Du-side Hospital, which is located on the Firestone Rubber Plantation in Margibi County on August 17, 1990, by a French photographer named Patrick Robey. 

In an interview with this reporter on Friday, June 11, 2021, she confirmed that Robey took the picture outside of Du-side Hospital compound just before she could embark her vehicle upon her return from the hospital, to identify wounded soldiers who were moved to the hospital for advance treatment.

She said she could recollect the event and date of the picture because the French photographer who took the picture issued a statement to explain events surrounding the controversial image in her trial in the UK on accusation of torture.

Asked if the woman standing on her left was Senator Nyonblee Kanagar Lawrence, as stated by Facebook users, she replied “no”. 

“That lady in the photo making rounds on social media is Cecelia Lewis, who later became Chief of Taskforce of the Liberia National Police in the administration of Charles Taylor and not the Grand Bassa County Senator,”  Taylor said.

Ms. Lewis later died in a plane crash along with police Director Joe Tate and several others on Wednesday, August 11, 1999. 

The former wife of Charles Taylor, however, indicated that it was a security strategy to have Lewis dressed in a military outfit like her so that soldiers could be wondering who Agnes Taylor really was.

Madam Lewis is survived by her son Enreki Johnson. Due to the intense discussion of her late mother’s picture, he took to Facebook on May 17, 2020 asking that her late mother be left alone to “rest in her grave.” 

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Conclusion

Based on the evidence available, the woman carrying a gun in the viral image posted on Facebook by many users is not Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence of Grand Bassa but Madam Cecelia Lewis Johnson who later died in a plane crash in 1999. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the 2021 Kwame Karikari Fact-checking Fellowship partnership with the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding to facilitate the ethos of truth in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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