Media Institutions Cannot Cower To Threats From Security Sector
LIBERIA HAS COME a long way in its attainment to have a free press which is not muzzled by the government.
THIS COUNTRY HAS NOT had a free and independent media since the end of the Edwin James Barclay administration in 1943.
WHEN FORMER PRESIDENT William V.S. Tubman took over from his predecessor, Edwin James Barclay, it instantaneously became a dark day for the media.
PRIOR TO THEN, NO LIBERIAN PRESIDENT—not even the corrupt and criminally minded Charles Dunbar Burgess King—held the distinct record of intimidating journalists.
ONE OF HIS FIRST ATTACKS on the Liberian media was the constant harassment and jailing of the pamphleteer, the venerable oldman Albert Porte.
THIS WOULD ALSO EXTEND to other editors and publishers of other newspapers, including Ms. Bertha Corbin, C. Frederick Taylor and others.
A TOAD DOES NOT RUN in the day time for nothing, wrote Chinua Achebe in his famed novel Things Fall Apart. Either it is after something or something is after its life.
JUST WHY ARE WE filling you in with this history?
IN OUR MONDAY MARCH 20, 2017, edition, FrontPage Africa published in its letter column a missive from Martin Kollie, a writer and student of the University of Liberia.
IN THE LETTER, KOLLIE ALLEGED that the National Security Agency (NSA) has concocted a plan to arrest him because of an article he wrote on Facebook, comparing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with her counterparts John Mangufuli of Tanzania and Lula Da Silva of Brazil. He furthered that the NSA claimed the article is inciting.
“WHAT IS INCITING ABOUT saying ‘After almost 12 years under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia is the 4th poorest country in the world according to Global Finance report 2017. Transparency International ranked Liberia as the most corrupt country on earth in 2013 while the UN Habitat rated Monrovia s the least city with a City Prosperity Index (CPI) of -0.313,” Kollie wrote.
STRIKES US STRANGE, though, that instead of the Ministry of Information reacting to the aforementioned article through its regular press briefing or rebuttal which we are under obligation to publish, it’s the National Security Agency (NSA), headed by the son of President, Fombah Sirleaf, calling FrontPage Africa News Desk Chief, Lennart Dodoo for an “investigation” why the letter was published from Martin Kollie.
LIBERIA HAS MANY SECURITY threats and the thought of the security apparatuses handling UNMIL’s abdicated task of providing security for the nation as the nation goes to a crucial elections in October, chills are running down the spines of many when the mere thought crosses mind.
INCIDENTS OF ARMED ROBBERY are on the rise daily. The proliferation of locally made pistols from border towns is one of the reasons causing the spike in armed robbery incidents but the NSA seems to have no control how the country can stop these weapons from coming into the country.
THE COUNTRY RECENTLY IMPLODED the economy was shut down by business people who were protesting high taxes being levied.
SECTION 6(B) OF THE NATIONAL Security and Intelligence Act of 2011 states that the main function of the NSA, among many others include, “the collection of information about organized crime, narcotics production and trafficking, or immigration or custom matters which have national security implications.
THE NSA RECEIVES MILLIONS in budgetary allocations and a portion of that money, it seems, is to intimidate newspapers and other free thinkers, even the right to air or lowed their thought to be read are enshrined in the constitution.
AND SO INSTEAD OF THE NSA trying its best to help make Liberia safe for Liberians and foreigners alike, it is bullying the editor of Liberia’s major newspaper for publishing a letter from one of our readers.
THRICE, AGENTS OF THE NSA visited the offices of FrontPage Africa asking on the whereabouts of the newsroom chief and at each of those visits, he wasn’t in the office. Not stopping there, his numbers were dialed many times.
THE FREEDOM THE PRESS enjoys in Liberia did not begin with the Sirleaf led government as many blazed the trail way before the President mounted the podium on that fateful day in 1972 to deliver the commencement address address of the College of West Africa (CWA) in 1972.
BY THIS EDITORIAL, we are notifying the Press Union of Liberia, the West African Journalists Association, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Journalists for Human Rights about the intimidation of the NSA because to whom much is given…