22 August 2013

Liberia: Reminiscent of the Dark Days


HUNDREDS OF ANGRY LIBERIANS today trooped into the courtyard of the temple of Justice in Monrovia to show solidarity after a lower court ruled that Rodney Sieh, managing editor and publisher of FrontpageAfrica print and online newspaper go to prison, at the infamous Monrovia Central Prison.

RODNEY'S IMPRISONMENT BY the Liberian government is a clear manifestation that Liberia has indeed returned to the ugly dark era of the Tolbert, Doe and Charles Taylor dictatorial and autocratic regimes.

PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF was one of the main campaigners against past governments clamping down on press freedom and free speech as guaranteed by the Liberian constitution.

ARTICLES 15 B AND C OF THE 1986 Liberian Constitution fully guarantees the right of the people to be informed about the functionaries of the government. "The right encompasses the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to knowledge. It includes freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom to receive and impart knowledge and information and the right of libraries to make such knowledge available. It includes non-interference with the use of the mail, telephone and telegraph. It likewise includes the right to remain silent. In pursuance of this right, there shall be no limitation on the public right to be informed about the government and its functionaries."

IT WAS THE RODNEY'S FRONTPAGE AFRICA that first reported that millions of taxpayers money was been misdirected and misapplied by former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe which led to President Sirleaf pressuring the then Agriculture Minister to turn in his letter of resignation in a controversial style.

FRONTPAGE AFRICA'S REPORT at the time of the "Army worms" evasion in Liberia forced President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to visit Zota district Bong County to ascertain facts about the FPA chains of articles. After the President's return to Monrovia Toe saw the back door out of Ellen's Government.

WHAT BAFFLES MOST LIBERIANS on this Chris Toe versus FrontPage Africa trial is the fact that the Liberian government is closing down a media institution and sending to prison a publisher for reporting a story on corruption which was declared public enemy "number one" by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her 2006 inaugural address.

THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT only imprison Rodney in a rather controversial style but also wantonly violated the Ministry of Justice's correctional center regulation, which forbids a person from going to detention after 6:00 pm.

ALMOST A MONTH AGO CONTROVERSIAL SINOE County Superintendent Milton Teahjay was barred from entering the compounds of the Monrovia Central Prison after House of Representatives found him guilty for making expenditures from the County coffers in violation of the Public Procurement Concession Commission's (PPCC) Act. In similar manner, former Mountserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpan could not go to prison after correctional officers argued that it was unlawful to put the former Superintendent and the notorious and controversial acting Monrovia City Mayor from going to prison after working hours.

IT HAS BECAME CLEAR THAT the government's "special operation" as state's security actors including the police termed the FrontPageAfrica's editor imprisonment, is an open war against free press in Liberia under the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's government.

FOR US RODNEY HAS gone to jail as a martyr for the free press in Liberia, and Liberians and the world over will remember his work in one of the world's most corrupt Governments on the planet.

NOT ONLY IS THE GOVERNMENT corrupt, but also its officials are grossly involved in the abuse of power, a similar condition that led to the political turmoil in the county for almost two decades.

THE ACTION BY THE PEOPLE AT THE Temple of Justice is a clear demonstration that the population is tired and frustrated with corrupt officials ruining the coffers of the state without any action from the President.

INVESTIGATIONS INTO CORRUPT acts by officials in this current political arrangement are abandoned in the vilest fashion against the interest of the suffering masses.

IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, in a not too distant future, there could be a mass citizens popular uprising against the government for its failure to improve the poverty-stricken lives of the people as well as its wanton disregard for the rule of law and the abuse of power, as was done in Egypt.

IT IS TIME FOR THE NATIONAL LEGISLATURE to step up and the save the day, by calling those members of the Supreme Court bench who have impeachment proceedings hanging over their heads for double standards as judicial officials and tampering with justice, to face justice.

IN 2011, THE ELLEN SIRLEAF government shut down three media institutions, Power TV/FM, Love TV/FM and Clair TV, after the regime branded media institutions as anti-government and spreading hate massages.

JOURNALISTS WERE ALSO manhandled in many instances including, the citizens' arrest of Madam Mary Broh after the House of Representatives order her jailed for obstructing justice in the aftermath of the Grace Kpan saga. Police seized Journalists from Clair TV gargets including cameras and recorders.

IT IS NO NEWS NOW THAT Editor Sieh is a victim of a corrupt judiciary system that is entrenched in bending justice in favor of the rich minority.

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