Some Liberian journalists are calling on the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to revoke the recent awards given to some of their colleagues for lack of transparency in the process.
Addressing a news conference yesterday in Monrovia, Journalist Octavin T. Williams, Publisher of the Nation Times called on the leadership of the PUL to revoke all awards given during the holding of the Annual PUL awards 2014-2015, held at the Monrovia City Hall, in order to restore the once credibility of this great Union.
Mr. Williams also called on the entire PUL leadership to show good judgment by holding an emergency meeting of the minds involving media stakeholders, Managing Editors, Station Managers, head of Adularias within the PUL, and partners to discuss the deteriorating state of the Union.
Mr. Williams at the same time, called on Liberians to review all the necessaries he had provided saying, “And may we all work well to ensure that in subsequent time, find a common ground to ensure the PUL stand tall once more as mighty Press Union of Liberia.”
Addressing several issues relative to the PUL’s operations, Mr. Williams said there are signs of incompetence and lack of will shown by past and current leaders of the Press Union of Liberia to ably protect and defend journalists in Liberia over the years. “To retrospect a little on series of arrests and cohesions of members of the Press Union to which serious sings of incompetency, lack of will to protect and deal with issues confronting members were shown, the arrest of Journalist Edward Mortee, of the National Chronicles Newspaper, Charles Yates and Francis Nah , the arrest of C.Y. Kwanue, of the Daily Observer Newspaper, and a case involving Alexander Bledeh, of Kings FM and Lawrence Randall, formerly of the Liberia Media Center, among others,” Williams stated.
Williams said these troubling signs do not only undermine the confidence reposed in those former and current leaders of the Press Union of Liberia, but also threatens the survivor of the journalism profession.
Williams said on September 19, 2013, he filed a formal complaint against Mr. Tonie Lawa, General Manager, PELAT Construction Company, and Mr. Dominic Failey, current News Editor, Agenda Newspaper and Public Relations Officer, for PELAT Construction Company respectively.
He added that during and after the period, journalist Moses T. Togba, Managing Editor, Nation Times Newspaper and him were mentally tortured and physically harassed by the two subjects mentioned above, while they were conducting an investigation in an alleged Tax Evasion fraud and economic sabotage as contained in a communication sent to Mr. Tonie Lawa on August 23,2013 by the Ministry of National Security including fraud in the Bella Yalla Road construction, in Gbapolu County, coupled with theft of properties as contained in Police records.
He noted that in the aftermath of these incidents on a charge of Criminal cohesion and subsequent clerk certification indicating that following carful perusal of Court’s records in the case and charge of criminal cohesion, the case was nollie prosequoi by the prosecution and dismissed by the court for lack of sufficient evidence thus discharging them (defendants) from further answering to the charge therein without day and date.
“Following this episode, I filed a formal complaint to the PUL on September 27, 2013 requesting the Union to conduct a formal investigation into the matter for the sole purpose of ensuring that the allegations claimed by Mr. Lawa and Dominic Failey, that it had recordings verifying that on August 23, 2013, we requested money from the subjects to bury a news story,” Williams added.
“Interestingly, since September 27, 2013, following our formal complaint on the incident, the past and current leadership of the Press Union has refused to conduct hearings and establish the variability of our concerns thus leaving us vulnerable to further insults and ridicule by the subjects named above but decided to include in its bulletin of World Press Freedom Day 2014, held in Gbarpolu County, under the theme “Free Press Exposes Poverty, Brings Development,” PEALAT Construction Company, as one of its sponsors,” he stated further.
Among other things Williams concluded that on May 7, 2014 he also wrote a formal complaint to current PUL President, Karmara Abdullah Karmara, indicating that his (Williams’) life has been threatened by Deputy Police Director for Operations, Abraham Kromah.
“In my communication I informed Mr. Karmara, of the revelation made by Deputy Police Director, Kromah, that he and the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) Fomba Sirleaf, including Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai, has concluded plans to eliminate me for my consistent converge on matter of serious national security bridge in the security apparatus of Liberia and called on the Kamara leadership to institute an urgent investigation into the matter but the leadership of the PUL has not made any reference to me or the likes on the matter,” he added.
“I view the revelation made by Colonel Kromah as serious and life-threatening and therefore, called on you all to ensure that the matter be urgently investigated as we strive for the advancement of a civil society,” Williams said.
At the same time, some journalists have criticized the leadership of the PUL for the manner in which the winners of this year’s PUL awards were given. They said there was no clue as to how these individuals were selected.
Some Executive Mansion Correspondents have also complained that they were left out of the process as there was nothing mentioned about them to partake in the selection process. They are also calling for the revocation of the various awards and go back to the drawing board.