Liberia: MCC Raids New Dawn's Office

Officers of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) numbering about 20 in a gangster style on Sunday March 29, raided the offices of the New Dawn newspaper, saying they were enforcing a city law which requires offices to be closed on Sunday.

The officers took away laptops, phones, wheel barrows, shovel and two bags of cement which were lying on the floor as staff were rearranging the desks in the newsroom for Monday's production after a late tile laying on Saturday night.

One of the officers who had earlier engaged an Indian merchant next door who was only repairing his generator called upon his colleagues who asked no question but bulldozed their way into the newspaper's offices. Even upon being told that this is a newspaper, office, they remarked that newspapers should also be closed on Sundays.

The paper's Publisher and Managing Editor Mr. Othello B. Garblah placed several calls to officials of the MCC but it yielded no results after several promises that they would have returned the items above.

The raid on the paper appears selective as even in front of the paper's offices contractors who were during an outdoor painting of the National Investment Commission's offices, where left untouched. As if that was not enough, carpenters were busy working outdoors in front of the Monrovia City Hall when Mr. Garblah went there purposely to complain about the raid.

This is the first time, that the incident has taken place here. It is not yet clear while the paper has been singled out, but the paper has been critical in recent times about the President's nominee to head the National Elections Commissions-Nigerian born naturalized Liberian Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike

The Commander of the Monrovia City Police assured this paper that the items raided from the paper's offices would have been returned on the same Sunday. However, he defended his officers'actions saying they were in no wrong.

He was, however, quick to point out that authorities need to revisit their moratorium on working on Sunday to exclude the media.As to whether his reference of media only refers to the print media because radio stations were blaring the airways on Sunday and none were shot down.

Most newspapers in Liberia work on Sundays to produce their papers for Monday. The action against the New Dawn was so far the only reported case, which makes the paper to believe that it has been targeted by the Liberian Government because there has been no prior warning that all offices including newspapers should close on Sundays.

Meanwhile, Monrovia City Mayor through the intervention of the CDC Chairman on Sunday ordered the items return, but were short of one bag of cement, while investigations into the lap tops remain ongoing.

The enforcing officers did not report anything about the missing laptops. Mayor Koijee said most of the people who participated in the raid on the paper were recruited to help in the enforcement exercise and were not official officers.

However, staff at the office said they wore City Police uniforms. Workers next door untouched

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