The controversy over who really won the 2012 Miss Liberia Beauty Pageant that divided public opinion in Liberia, as one group including the organizers supported Miss Lofa County represented by Miss Lela Knowlden.
Controversy mounted as a cross-section of judges at the Beauty Pageant that was held in the main hall of the University of Liberia including officials of the Ministry of Information however recognized Miss Brigitte Rouhana, the Miss Montserrado County contestant as Miss Liberia.
The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism at the time refused to recognize what they termed the choice of the organizers C.T. Com and issued a press statement revoking the crowning of Miss Knowlden as winner. MICAT also instituted comprehensive investigations into the entire contest. But the organizers stood by their choice.
The Miss Liberia drama took a new turn recently when the Queen that got the backing of the ECOWAS organizers including one of the judges at the contest Representative Munah Pehlam arranged the Miss Lela Knowlden's representation as Miss Liberia in the Miss ECOWAS Beauty Pageant in Calabar, Nigeria.
Commenting on this delicate issue during yesterday's regular MICAT press conference at the Ministry of Information, Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism Minister Lewis G. Brown ll stated that his Ministry has received the Report on an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the 2012 Miss Liberia beauty pageant held last year.
The MICAT boss added that the Report has been turned over to the head of the Culture and Tourism wing Hon. Elizabeth Hoff, adding that he takes strong exception to individuals representing Liberia at the ECOWAS Beauty Contest without the knowledge of his Ministry. "these individuals will be investigated and reprimanded," Minister Brown cautioned.
Announcing regulatory measures that have been put in place by MICAT, through the culture and tourism wing, Deputy Minister Hoff stated that they have a problem with people leaving Liberia to represent the country at the Miss ECOWAS Beauty contest which is why the investigating committee has made a series of recommendations.
Firstly, the cancellation of the 2012 Miss Liberia Beauty contest results, secondly, Liberia will not be represented at the Miss World Beauty Contest, and thirdly that the vehicle prize for the 2012 Miss Liberia winner will be sold and the proceed shared among all the other contestants and that all the contestants will be provided scholarships to pursue studies.
The Deputy Minister also announced the banning of Christopher Onanuga, the organizer and his company C.T. Com from organizing future pageants in Liberia. She added that the Gender and Development Ministry will in the future participate in the selection process of Miss Liberia contestants and that C.T.com should offer a public apology to Liberia for organizing a Beauty contest that left the image of the country in disrepute and that the mother of the country President Sirleaf has accepted to grant an audience to all of last year's participants.
MICAT also issued guidelines on the criteria to meet for organizers to host future Miss Liberia contests and what constitutes the conditions for eligibility to participate in the Miss Liberia contests in the future.