The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has described the Liberia based Council of Patriots’ (COP) recently orchestrated lawlessness in the Old Road Community in the City of Monrovia as an unfortunate development.
ALJA condemned in the strongest term the incident and the COP for the unnecessary disruption of traffic and the chaos and confusion it caused the residents of the community and the people of Liberia as a whole. The Association in a press release issued on June 30, 2020, called on Liberians the world over to denounce the incident because it has the proclivity of derailing the prevailing peace and stability in the country.
On Thursday, June 24, 2020, a group of reported members of the COP during the early morning hours obstructed traffic and set ablaze several tires on the main street of Tubman Boulevard in the Old Road Community. The action of the alleged COP's operatives was in reaction to controversial surcharges the Liberian government through the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) imposed on telephone companies in the country.
The COP opposes the surcharges because it believes they are too high; and would eventually be passed on by the companies to the financially stripped Liberian telephone subscribers. The road block and the burning of tires caused panic in Monrovia.
However, the situation was later brought under control by the intervention of officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP). Liberia's talk show host, Henry Costa, the US based chairman of the COP, has since declared the unfortunate incident as the work of the COP. ALJA says following 14 years of civil wars that decimated an estimated 250 thousand human lives and millions of dollars' worth of properties in Liberia, the country does not need a repeat of such carnage.
The Association says though it recognizes and respects the rights of Chairman Costa and the COP to publicly denounce societal ills in Liberia; and seek redress to matters of national concern, they must do so within the ambit of the laws of the country. The Association maintained that the June 24th fire setting and the obstruction of traffic in the Old Road Community and the Tubman Boulevard vicinity were not acts of advocacy, but deliberate actions meant to cause havoc.
ALJA says while it abhors President George Weah and the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) government's unmasked acts of corruption and leadership deficit, it however, remains opposed to anyone, or group of individuals that would engage in acts that are inimical to Liberia's peace and stability. Meanwhile, ALJA is urging Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, to desist from making irresponsible public pronouncements that have serious security implications on the lives of Liberians.
ALJA says Mayor Koijee's recent threat to deplore officers of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) Police along with militia groups under his self-styled Citizens Action Unit (CAU) with the sole purpose of forestalling presumed acts of terrorism prior to police intervention, is wrong and unacceptable.
The Association called on the Mayor to eschew such plan with immediacy. ALJA says as city mayor, Mr. Koijee's term of reference doesn't give him the authority to set up militia groups in Monrovia or dabbles into national security matters.
ALJA maintained that the Mayor needs to focus on the challenging responsibility of keeping the City of Monrovia dirt-free; and urged him to leave national security matters with the Ministers of Justice and Defense, and the Director of the Liberia National Police. Furthermore, the Association notes "Being a city mayor doesn't make Mr. Koijee a spokesman of the Liberian government".
ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. The Organization was founded in 1998 in Washington, D.C. USA, by a group of well-meaning Liberian journalists. The Association is a 501c (3) non-profit media advocacy group based in the United States of America (USA); and it is currently headquartered in the Mid-west, specifically Minneapolis, Minnesota.