In line with its mandate, the Media Alert Office of the Press Union of Liberia is pleased to once more submit another report to the public.
The report, marking the 7th Quarter since the Alert Office was officially launched in April 2017, covers from October to December, 2018.
The report contains a number of weekly briefings.
During the period under review, the followings were captured:
The explanations are as follows:
Mr. Flomo, ran as an independent candidate in the recent Montserrado County Representative By Election in District 13.
He has already been declared winner of the representative race by the National Election Commission.
Journalist Johnny, said he was attacked by Mr. Flomo’s supporters on November 10, 2018 at about 5:30 PM, while performing his role as a journalist.
During the reported attack, the group allegedly took away two recorders, at the cost of $200.00 US, each, one K-7 Techno Phone at the value of $160.00 US,and a note pad at the cost of 4100.00 Liberian Dollars.
The Media Alert Office, upon receiving the report has been making efforts to verify Journalist Johnny’s claims.
Part of these efforts include establishing contact with Officers Joseph Bowier and Isaac B. Wright of the LNP, Zone 4 Depot opposite the St. Moses Funeral Home, Gardnerville, in whose presence, Mr. Johnny said the incident occurred.
In addition, the Alert Office has also been making efforts to hear from Mr. Flomo and independent sources to verify the reported attack.
As we provide, the Alert Office has not completed the findings on Mr. Johnny’s allegations.
A November 14, 2018 post on the Facebook Page of the governing “Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Photo Gallery” being managed by Abraham Samukai Kromah called for Journalist Brown’s arrest.
The Liberian media executive is the one who broke the news surrounding the 16billion Liberian Dollar saga in the country.
A portion of the post reads: “This crazy journalist need to be placed behind bar for publishing malicious stories about missing BILLIONS. The act by this mad journalist and former rebel could lead our country into serious crisis”.
On November 7, 2019, members of House of Representatives unanimously took a vote, ordering the Liberia National Police (LNP), through the Justice Ministry to arrest and enforce the appearance of journalist Philibert Browne, Publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper.
The Justice Ministry however spoke about procedural error by the Liberia National Police, regarding its Call to Action to the Ministry.
They wanted him appear before Plenary on Friday, 30th November 2018 at 10 AM to provide evidence concerning a story published by the Hot Pepper Newspaper.
It the publication in question, the Hot Pepper Newspaper said some lawmakers were involved in aiding and abetting the printing of 5 billion Liberian Dollars and additional 10.5 billion in the same currency.
Mr. Brown was cited three times but could not show up because of poor health.
The situation apparently annoyed them even though he officially communicated with them that he was out of Liberia on a medical trip.
As pressure to arrest and ensure Mr. Brown’s appearance before the Lower House of the Liberian Legislature was increasing, Press Union of Liberia wrote the House of Representatives and described the lawmakers’ actions as intimidation of the journalist.
A portion of the PUL’s communication to the Lower House reads: “Mr. Speaker, Journalist Brown, with no intent to defend him made utterances partly attributed to some members of the 53rd House of Representatives – names were mentioned, some public figures named have started responding. Why is the Plenary of the 54th House of Representatives summoning this journalist if it is not to intimidate, harass and at some point, humiliate him. The People’s Power must be used in their every interest and if individual members of the Honorable House of Representatives feel so much injured, they can revert to the National Media Council- a first action to contesting the Journalist’s work”.
Representative George was heard on two separate occasions repeating his threats to beat up Mr. Kanneh.
Reports on the threats against Kanneh, who currently heads the Legislative Press Pool at the Legislature were also carried in the Wednesday, November 21, 2018 Edition of the Daily Observer Newspaper.
Representative George accused Journalist Kanneh of describing the 53rd Legislature as useless.
But Journalist Kanneh has denied the lawmaker’s claims.
The Press Union of Liberia wasted no time in detesting Representative Solomon George’s action against Journalist Musa Kanneh. A formal communication was sent to House Speaker, Dr. Bofhal Chambers concerning the matter.
Liberian President George Manneh Weah, on Thursday, November 15, 2018, told a team of Executive Mansion reporters that the country’s safety requires the evaluation of what he calls fake news that goes out to the public.
President Weah made the declaration shortly upon arrival from France.
The President however failed to be specific by mentioning the names of the concerned media entities/ journalists or cite some instances relative to his comments against the media community in Liberia.
“Some journalists, for whatever reason are sending hate messages that could destroy the nation,” he told the reporters.
On December 7, 2018, Journalist Alpha Daffae Senkpeni reported that he escaped death from people he described as politically incited gangs in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.
On December 11, 2018, Journalist Eric Opa Doue reported that Senator Dallas Gueh of Rivercess County threatened him with what the lawmaker called a red card for reporting incidents at the Rivercess County Council Seating.
The Media Alert is still making follow up on the reported action by the senator.
Nathaniel McGill Threats Journalist Roney Sieh
Presidential Affairs Minister, Nathaniel McGill on Monday, December 17, 2018, threatened to issue a lawsuit against Journalist Rodney Sieh and FrontPage Africa.
It can be recalled that in the Monday, December 17, 2018 Edition of the FrontPage Africa, Mr. Sieh revealed what he described as multiple layers of corruption, fiscal mismanagement, kickbacks and waste resulting in millions of dollars in losses from the Liberian government coffers in just the first year of Coalition for Democratic Change-led government.
The investigative report exposed vouchers and memos detailing exorbitant payments toward travel, made-up companies and firms tied to the Presidency for road and construction contracts. Affected institutions include the National Security Agency, Executive Protection Agency and the never-ending renovation of the seat of the Liberian Presidency, the Executive Mansion.
Minister McGill, appearing on Truth FM, as reported by FPA made the following observation: “When government ensures charges against journalists and newspapers, it’s so much in the press, but I think we have to go to court for the press people to begin to justify some of these allegations. I think Rodney Sieh, the press and the FrontPage Africa is a criminal entity bent on tarnishing the good reputation of people.”
“I am not going to comment too much; what I am going to now I am going to get my lawyer involved and other people to file a lawsuit against the FrontPage Africa and if it is proven that I motorized the payment, I’m going to resign from the government but if it is not proven, Rodney Sieh will go to jail because I will not allow people to tarnish my reputation. I work for my reputation.”
“Rodney Sieh and his criminals will not destroy my image. This is a criminal attempt by Mr. Sieh and his gang of criminals who want to destroy the good image of individuals. I will not allow that. I am coming back to Monrovia, I will get to my lawyer. My lawyer will deal with the situation because I cannot bear it any longer. Every day people will get up and just say things about tarnishing their friends. Once you say somebody is involved in corruption, it’s everybody concern.”
9.Finance Minister vows to “weaponize” government’s base
On Wednesday, 19 December 2018, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah vowed to “weaponize” government’s base so as to make it capable to deal with what he described as “mistruth and falsehood in the media.”
We’ll weaponize through the case to go and deal with mistruths and falsehoods in the media,” the Minister told ‘militants’ of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.
Mr. Tweah made the comments, when the CDC received scores of members of the former ruling Unity Party into its membership.
The PUL strongly believes that such statement to young supporters of the CDC puts journalists at Frontpage Africa at riSk to loyalists of the populistic regime and is entirely a big step to downgrade media favorability in the public.
This threat is a second contained in official responses to an FPA investigation which speaks of a fraudster’s effort to robe the country of US$32,835,654.14 being thwarted at last minute due to alarm from the international banking system.
10.Information Minister describes PUL as a “Useless” Entity
On December 25, 2018, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, described the Press Union of Liberia as a “useless” organization, while appearing on a talk-show on Farbric FM 101.1MHz in Monrovia. The Minister’s outburst was in response to the Union’s condemnation of increasing hostilities from some members of the Weah Administration against the Media in Liberia on a show meant to discuss “Government, Media Relations in 2018”.
The Leadership of the Press Union of Liberia reacted with the suspension of the of the membership of Minister Nagbe for what it called rowdy deportment.
Octavin Williams, Vice President of the Union immediately cited procedural error in the PUL and backed the position of the Minister Nagbe.
On December 28, 2018, the general membership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) upheld the suspension of Information Minister Nagbe for branding the PUL as a “useless” organization.
The decision was taken at a well-attended mass meeting of the membership at the PUL headquarters on Friday, December 28, 2018.
At the same meeting, the PUL general membership also voted unanimously to suspend the Union’s Vice President Octavin Williams, for time indefinite and mandated him to face the National Media Council to answer to charges of disrespect to the general membership which represents congress. The action was taken after the PUL Vice President refused to attend the mass meeting of the PUL in outright defiance to the membership.
The membership also mandated the PUL leadership to stay away from a meeting scheduled by President Weah, with media executives on Friday, December 28, 2018 in the wake of the increasing attacks on the media.
After three separate engagements with the President of the PUL, Charles B. Coffey, Jr. and other executive members of the Union, Minister Nagbe wrote a formal letter of apology to the Press Union of Liberia withdrawing his unfortunate comments. On December 31, 2018. Suspension of Mr. Nagbe’s PUL Membership was lifted by the Union’s Membership on Friday, January 4, 2019 and admonished him to be an effective and efficient ambassador for the Union.
11.Lawsuit against Journalist Brown
On December 29, 2018, a writ of arrest was issued against the Publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper Mr. Philipbert Browne, after he had accused lawmakers of receiving bribe to authorize the printing of L$10 billion.
Journalist Browne told a local talk show in Monrovia that some lawmakers were bribed $2,200,000 United States Dollars to authorize the printing of the Liberian Bank Notes.
The U$2million dollar defamation suit was filed by 12 lawmakers, including Deputy House Speaker, Prince Moye, Emmanuel Nuquay, former House Speaker, Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar, Representative Thomas Fallah of Montserrado County District #5 and Zoe Pennue of Grand Gedeh County District 1.
Before taking its annual vacation in 2018, the 54th Legislature opened an investigation into the cconfusion surrounding the printing of an extra L$10 billion by the Central Bank, when only L$6 billion approved printed by the 53rd Legislature for the replacement of mutilated banknotes.
Journalists Browne and his Hot Pepper Newspaper, as stated at the beginning of this report are credited for being the first to report the missing billions confusion.
The Media Alert Office strongly believes that the Writ for Action for Wrong with attachment was strategically issued on Friday evening, - meaning Browne was going to jail because offices were closed at the time.
This legal action/suit is pattern after previous intimidatory lawsuits against journalists in Liberia intended to jail them before trail.
As we publish this report, tracking of violations for the 8th Quarter has begun.
Jacob N.B. Parley