LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: A Bounty on My Head- Exposing the Ills Come with Risks, I’m Ready for the Fight

Dear Readers,

The last few days have been among the most challenging of my journalistic life.

Succeeding governments, past and present have had issues with our reportage and we have paid the price through closures of our newspaper, FrontPageAfrica and my own imprisonment – twice for standing up to the powers that be.

In January 2011, I was held in contempt by the Supreme Court of Liberia over a reader’s letter to the editor accusing Supreme Court Justice Gladys Johnson of bias in a criminal case.

While we appreciate the support of those in the opposition who stood by us and appreciated the stance we took tackling corrupt forces and integrity lapses in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration, we are under no obligation to reward that support with anyone now in power or aspiring for power to standby and say or do nothing when similar lapses are unfolding before our very eyes.

That case involved the suspicious death of Angel Tokpah, a 13-year-old girl, who was found hanging from the shower of her guardians, Hans and Madea Willams’ home.

Following the publication of the letter, I was summoned to the Temple of Justice to help the Supreme Court “understand” the contents of the letter to the editor.

At the time, out of fear of the judicial branch, no lawyer in the country was willing to represent me.

Over the course of two hearings, I remained unapologetic and attempted to read a prepared statement about press freedom, referring to the court as “dictatorial.” This was the basis for the contempt charge.

I held my ground in defense of our opinion page which serves as a marketplace of ideas for everyone to share the views without fear or favor. Despite that incident, I held my own and went to jail, refusing to budge on the trampling of free speech on a contributing writer to our newspaper.

Two years later, in August 2013, when we published the findings of the General Auditing Commission regarding the alleged misuse of donor funds intended to battle armyworms, I was prosecuted and sentenced to 5,000 years in prison.

While we appreciate the support of those in the opposition who stood by us and appreciated the stance we took tackling corrupt forces and integrity lapses in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration; we are under no obligation to reward that support with anyone now in power or aspiring power to standby and say or do nothing when similar lapses are unfolding before our very eyes.

As an opposition, the now ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and its key players featured prominently in our publications, frequenting our offices and allowed the platform to share their views on the lapses in the Sirleaf administration.

In fact, at the time, many suggested that our newspaper was being supported by George Weah and the opposition of the day.

Ironically, shortly after the Weah government assumed the mantle of authority, we became targets, a makeshift court case led to our newspaper being shut down and our staff arrested.

In early 2018, when many were silent, we trumpeted the issue of President Weah constructing houses valued in the millions, we also red-flagged the appointment of three of the President’s brothers at the National Port Authority among a wave of other lapses.

Just like the Sirleaf era, many in the opposition today, trumpeted our reports and encouraged us to do more – and we did.

When allegations surfaced that billions of local currency went missing from the Central Bank of Liberia, we were again on top of the story, bringing the reports to you our readers, and the rest of the world.

This in fact triggered the June 7 protest which served as a wakeup call for the Weah administration.

The Senator Dillon Integrity Lapse

Sadly, over the past few days, when our news editor Lennart Dodoo launched an investigation in the recent travel of Senator Abraham Darius Dillon to the United States of America, supporters of Senator Dillon and members in the hierarchy of the opposition Coalition of Political Parties have resorted to launching attacks and social media insults looking to discredit our work and our reportage.

The fact of the matter is, Senator Dillon brought it upon himself. It was the Senator, who rode on the backs of a grassroots dissent against ills in the Weah administration, who decided to post a photograph of himself in the business class of a New York-bound Delta Airlines flight.

When the backlash followed, the Senator vehemently denied that he flew Business Class.

Debunking a FrontPageAfrica report that he flew business on Delta Airlines, Senator Dillon posted to Facebook that he bought and flew economy but had gone to see a foreign friend in the business section for a brief chat.

Senator Dillon’s supporters, to our dismay used their social media platforms to call our newspaper all sorts of names, even demanding that we apologize to the Senator.

When our newsroom chief, Lennart Dodoo, using Senator Dillon’s ticket he himself posted on Facebook, managed to trace the ticket and discovered the Senator had actually flown Business Class, the very people who were raining insults began calling behind the scenes to tell us that we are spending too much time on the story and should let it go.

Even after Senator Dillon admitted that he “screwed up” and lied about his business class ticket from Accra, Ghana to the United States of America which he says, brought disgrace to his family and supporters; many of those in his circle continue to rain insults on our publication.

Over the past 48 to 72 hours, senior leaders within the CPP have been making the rounds to various media outlets and some of my colleagues in the media, pitching an article headlined: “Pay-to-Play”, Rodney Sieh, Where is Thou Pride?

One of my colleagues even showed me a text message from Mr. Benoni Urey, the former head of the CPP which went as follow:

Mr. Urey wrote: “Pls publish this Front page. I will see you tomorrow. I’ve not been well, but will make up tomorrow when we meet. Pls handle.”

My colleague responded: “Uncle  Uray l can’t published such allegations against my professional colleagues. I don’t have facts about your allegations!!.”

I would like to express appreciation to my colleague for the media solidarity and exposing this clandestine plan.

The article which has been sent to FPA is authored by what appears to be a pseudo name, someone called Mike R. McCarthy. It labels me as “a phony Publisher and lead Editor of the grotesque and unethical Frontpage Africa Newspaper is a disgrace and disdain to the noble journalism professionalism, and to illustrate him more bluntly, may I say Rodney is nothing more than a “join-the-list” element willfully and purposefully distorting the facts to satisfy his embedded motives and feathers his nest in return.”

The author writes: “For the entire span of his toxic and accursed journalism career, Rodney Sieh has brazenly defied the sacred ethics and standards of the journalism profession in the full glare of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and sadly, the umbrella body of the Liberian media has markedly failed to muster the temerity to decisively call him out. Instead, the PUL ludicrously flowers him with its yearly awards as Best Journalist of the year and best this and that, and for the most part, his awards have been greeted by mixed feelings with more voices frowning on the move by the Union. How can you crown a man whose entire career has been characterized by “Pay-to-play” tendencies with your best awards? Does that not amount to promoting unethical journalism? No wonder why Liberians across the broad spectrum have described the PUL as an “ineffectual regulatory body” adding it is spineless and has not the moral scruples to penalize unethical journalists and media institutions in any appropriate measure, and that is the rai·son d’ê·tre why a daft and disreputable chap like Rodney Sieh and his kind continue to ravage dignified Liberians with his toxic journalism.”

For the record, we are ready to go the distance to expose the ills today, in the same form and fashion as we did yesterday, and will be ready to do the same tomorrow. This is our gift to Liberia, a post-war nation, trumpeted as Africa’s oldest republic; but one in which the rule of law is nonexistent where government after government come with lofty promises, repeatedly failing to do right by those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Of particular mention, the article took issue with a recent publication entitled: “Liberia: Boakai Facing Pressure To Cut Ties With Individuals Linked to War Crimes”.

The Urey-sponsored article describes me as a career mercenary journalist and the report as a “a bloody lie from the belly of Rodney Sieh, a menacing monster with the pen, that Boakai is under pressure to cut ties with Urey because Cummings and Sieh imaginarily link him to war crimes. How can Urey be linked to war crimes when he didn’t wage war, fight and/or finance any way in Liberia? Has Rodney Sieh’s vicious hatred for Urey degenerated into madness? Has he gone wacko over Urey to the extent that he uses the pages of his disgusting and poorly written Frontpage Africa to publish grim imagination and malicious stories about the ALP leader?”

The Urey-sponsored article goes as far as suggesting that the article on Mr. Urey was paid for by Mr. Alexander Cummings, the leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress, whom Mr. Urey and others believe is some kind of financier of FrontPageAfrica.

The article goes on. “In Rodney and Cummings desperate desire to secure a Vice Presidential slot to Joseph Boakai as it is getting clearer by the days and hours that Boakai will lead the much-heralded CPP presidential ticket as the popular choice of the Liberian people, they have illogically opted to launch a blistering attack on the character and reputation of Urey with the notion that he is close to Boakai and thus poses a threat to Cummings last hope of becoming a Vice running mate to JNB.”


Sadly, this narrative is also being trumpeted by the current head of the CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, who has taken it upon herself to accuse us of being financed by Mr. Cummings.

As a matter of full disclosure, I have reached out to Senator to provide proof of her claims – although she has denied, a media colleague who brought it to her attention, was told the same narrative Mr. Urey is not pitching.

I have reminded Senator Lawrence of my effort during her first quest for the Senate. When the former government tried to deny her of victory in the Grand Bassa County election. I was there in the trenches, relaying play by play attempts to ambush ballot trucks intended to deny her the seat she coveted.

Our pages have also been used by members in the current opposition to trumpet their agenda. Both Senator Dillon and Senator Lawrence have frequented our front pages. We have not demanded a penny and they have never offered a penny. We do not demand money from any politician to publish stories and it is not part of our policy.

Today, we have become, in their eyes, blackmailers, assassins and mercenaries, all because we are raising red flags about their lapses.

In August 2019, when Mr. Urey’s daughter, Telia was staring at the face of death and came under attack during her quest for the Montserrado County District No. 15 elections, it was our pages that reported, play by play, the violent clashes which threatened Telia’s life.

Regardless of what happens, it is important to put the likes of Mr. Urey and members of the opposition community in check, regarding where we stand. Yes, we offer our platform as a marketplace of ideas but make no mistake, this space is not for sale and no one should think that they or anyone has a stake or claim to ownership.

Ms. Urey came under a bloody attack which led to the damage of her bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser and injuries to she and several of her supporters who had gone to visit the headquarters of another candidate.

In fact, our newspaper was the first to announce Ms. Urey’s intention of running for the District No. 15 legislative seat.

For the record, we have no vendetta or malice against anyone. We are simply doing the best we can to bring credible and objective news and analysis to you, our readers.

In his paid-for rants, Mr. Urey can never deny the fact that he was a close aide to Charles Taylor, he also cannot deny the fact that he was for many years, a regular on the United Nations travel and economic sanctions.

His association with former Vice President Boakai is a subject for analysis for any credible newspaper. Nothing personal. In fact, a lot of international stakeholders have reached out to FrontPageAfrica with similar concerns.

If that is his basis for launching threats and going as far as to tell my colleague that he has “millions to spend” to damage me, Mr. Urey must rethink his strategy because I am not afraid of him – and I am certainly not afraid of any member of the CPP, CDC or any political party or government for that matter.

I survived the dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh. So, I’ll be fine.  

For the record, we are ready to go the distance to expose the ills today, in the same form and fashion as we did yesterday, and will be ready to do the same tomorrow.

This is our gift to Liberia, a post-war nation, trumpeted as Africa’s oldest republic; but one in which the rule of law is nonexistent where government after government come with lofty promises, repeatedly failing to do right by those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.

A nation lacking proper checks and balances and elected officials giving themselves US$30,000 each in the middle of a deadly Coronavirus pandemic, when vaccines are in shortly supply, amid a depleted environment lacking simple medical supplies with Liberians dying like flies on a daily basis from simple illnesses that are easily treated in other parts of the world.

Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish historian and essayist was right in coining the media as the Fourth Estate, heralding a segment of society that wields an indirect but significant influence on society even though it is not a formally recognized part of the political system. The media is the “fourth estate” because it serves as watchdog over the three others: executive, legislative and judiciary.

If the media decides to join the rest of the branches of government and turn a blind eye to the ills in society, then we may as well, lock the door and throw away the key on Liberia. It is such thinking that has kept Liberia at the bottom of the pile for ages.

In an age when sycophancy is the order of the day, the threat is imminent. We are not afraid of the threats, but more afraid about what any number of sycophantic followers can do with that threat.

Regardless of what happens, it is important to put the likes of Mr. Urey and members of the opposition community in check, regarding where we stand. Yes, we offer our platform as a marketplace of ideas but make no mistake, this space is not for sale and no one should think that they or anyone has a stake or claim to ownership.

The rightful owners are those who rely on us to speak truth to power. Like we always say, we bleed Red, White and Blue – with a star in the left-hand corner.

Never Get it twisted, we’re ready for the fight!!!

The Editor

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