21 November 2012

Liberia: Conspiracy? - Members of 2012 Miss Liberia Investigation Committee Deny Knowledge of Final Report Being

Today is Thursday, November 21, 2012; and by now officials of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, headed by Lewis G. Browne, are gearing up for their regular press briefing.

On today's agenda, indications are that the Ministry will be commenting, if not officially releasing, a purported final report from a committee set up by the government of Liberia to probe controversies surrounding the 2012 Miss Liberia contest hosted in May by CT.Com at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Ashmun Street.

Ahead of today's press conference, credible information available to this entity reveals that the report that is supposed to clear controversies over the Miss Liberia pageantry is itself controversial beginning with the manner it in which it might have been released to press a month ago.

Few weeks ago on the 18th of October, a report circulated in the Liberian press purportedly from the Committee outlining several recommendations to government, including the cancellation of the 2012 Miss Liberia contest, payments for damage to the contestants, revocation of the franchise from CT.Com, who current holds the franchise, among others.

Committee Members: "We don't know about that report"

While the report is yet to attract huge public attention, apparently because of its poor circulation, some respected members of the Committee have begun to distance themselves.

Former Information Minister and radio Talkshow host, Reverend Emmanuel Bowier says he is not aware of the Committee's latest report; saying there are still additional information needed to have finalized the report before submission to MICAT.

Rev. Bowier told this paper yesterday that he is only aware of a preliminary report by the Committee, which was submitted to the Ministry of Information about three to four months ago. According to Liberia's newest sensational oral historian, the Committee is supposed to meet to finalize the report, which he said is yet to happen.

Besides Rev. Bowier, another member of the Committee, Jake Kabakorlee, says he has no idea about the latest release of any report from the Committee.

According to him, "when the Committee's work is done, the public will be informed;" indicating that as far as he is concerned the work of the Committee was still continuing. Mr. Kabakorlle declined to speak further on the matter; rather suggesting that paper inquires from the media entities that published the report.

The Committee Head could not be reached. However, the admission from the two respected officials of the Committee has drawn a thick line of suspicion over the finality of the report and how it got to the press.

Commentators have begun to raise brows on the authenticity of the report.

Conspiracy Theories: Verifiable?

Conspiracy theories have begun to form on how the report, which is yet to be verified as the true report from the Committee considering the position of the two officials above, got to the press.

Accusing fingers are pointing to Friend of the President, Madam Madina Wesseh, for smuggling the report to the press. This is yet to be.

Madam Wesseh is said to be canvassing on behalf of MAD Media Entertainment, a company she is alleged to have vested commercial interest in.

MAD Media Entertainment: "We have not laid eyes on the report, But....."

A Manager at MAD Media Entertainment, Emmanuel S. Diggs, yesterday told this paper that his entity is yet to see the report. Though he avoided every attempt of establishing a connection between MAD Media Entertainment and Madam Wesseh, he said his entity might apply for the franchise to host Miss Liberia if it were put out for bidding.

Earlier, renowned Liberian artist, Sundaygar Dearboy, a member of MAD Media Entertainment, refuted any connection with the purported report.

Speaking to this paper yesterday while enroute to Ghana, Mr. Dearboy said he did not see any need for an investigation that involved MAD Media since it fact is neither the government of Liberia nor the Committee that is authoring the report.

Does MICAT Support Conspiracy Theories On The Report?

Depending on who is spoken to, belief in these conspiracy theories varies at the Ministry of Education.

In an unpublished interview with Information Minister Lewis Browne, he admitted that the Ministry had only recently received the report from the Committee on Thursday last week.

The timing suggests almost a month between the period when the report was published on October 18, 2012 in the Inquirer newspaper and the 15th of November when MICAT got hold of it.

The biggest question now remains how the so-called final report got to the press before the Ministry received a copy a month later? Another unanswered question is why the Ministry didn't respond to the purported report when it was first published one month ago, especially when it believes there could have been either a procedural blunder or a conspiracy building up?

On record, he told journalists, not including this paper, that the report released to the paper was not the official report and that government was concerned about establishing how it got to the press. He also disclosed that the head of the special committee was not aware of the publication. This is yet to be verified, however.

Pundits say the smuggling of the report in the press might have been intended to arouse public sentiment.

Min. Brown said the government will prosecute those behind the concocted report if they are caught.

Yesterday, Attorney Isaac Jackson, in his capacity as Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, told this paper in a bewildered voice that he did not know if the report has been released to the press.

Though his Boss, Min. Browne, has said government was investigating how the report got to press, Attorney sounded as if he had never heard and known about the report being circulated in the press a month ago.

In any case, Min. Jackson confirmed that his ministry has received a report from the Committee but said it was still sealed and was waiting for an appropriate timing for release to the public.

With both top information officials of government confirming receipt of sealed report from the Committee, the doubt only widens when two members of the Committee have said they are not aware of the report and that the Committee was still working to finalize its report.

Another question pundits ponder over is which report the Information Ministry hopes to release to the public when the Committee was still working on additional information.

Meanwhile, franchise holder, CT.Com says its legal team is closely monitoring what it described as a 'conspiracy,' and would respond in due time. However, the company says it legal representation, KEMP & Associates, has written two official communications to the Ministry but that up to yet; there is no response from the Ministry.

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