Henry Costa Is Released; Now Reopen the National Chronicle!

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Who is it that seems determined to spoil Ellen’s name and further vandalize her legacy?  Is it the Liberia National Police? Is it the National Security Agency and its head, who is the President’s own son, Fumba?  Who is it determined to deflate one of the last remaining good things about this administration—freedom of speech and freedom of the press? 

Whoever it is that intends to turn Liberia into a police state may have been a small boy during the Samuel Doe or Charles Taylor days, when freedom of speech or of the press, was nonexistent.  But where are they now—Doe and Taylor?  All of those who think they have power and are using it to mistreat, incarcerate and humiliate other people should  realize and know that the time  will soon come when that power will end, for NOTHING lasts forever. 

It has long been alleged that the NSA has been jamming the Costa Morning Show every day.   This is an attempt to stifle freedom of speech and of the press, two constitutional rights which President Sirleaf has, to her enduring credit, striven to uphold, protect and defend.

But does the President know what has been happening to the Costa Show?  If she does, what has she done about it?  Does she not know that such behavior is a blatant attempt to undermine her legacy?  For Liberians and the whole world know that Ellen is a staunch defender of freedom of speech and of the press.  She has personally stated that she will take no reprisal against those who lambast her on the radio or TV talk shows or in any other medium. Liberians and the world have admired and appreciated her for that.

So what is the LNP or the NSA trying to prove?  It is a pity they do not realize that they are accomplishing three things only: first, making Mr. Costa a greater hero than he already is; second, undermining a critical part of President Sirleaf’s legacy—her defense of free speech and free press; and thirdly, exposing Liberia and its government to  international criticism and ridicule, especially from those organizations that are particularly watching—the Press Union of Liberia, the International Press Institute (IPI), the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), Reporters Without Borders, etc.

Is it true that the NSA has been jamming Mr. Costa’s station? Why?  What does Fumba Sirleaf perceive that the Ellen government has to hide and does not want the public to know or talk about?  That alone is a terrible indictment on the government.  Fumba Sirelaf should know this, or is he too inexperienced to know it?

If indeed he is that inexperienced, we hope that this editorial will help him to understand that such behavior DOES NOT PAY.  Remember, the President is striving to leave a respectable legacy—that was what the Cabinet Retreat last week was all about.  Fumba Sirleaf himself, and ALL other government   officials, should also know that they, too, should be concerned about their own legacies—how they wish to be remembered.

We commend the government for releasing Mr. Costa yesterday afternoon. But we pray that the GOl will give strict instructions to the NSA or whoever may be jamming his radio station to stop this nefarious and unconstitutional practice.

We could not end this editorial without calling on the President to reopen the National Chronicle newspaper.  We are afraid that the GOL can no longer take Mr. Philibert Browne and his newspaper to court, for whatever offense GOL perceives the National Chronicle may have committed.  Why? Because GOL has already taken action before due process of law. 

We recall, in this connection, what  Associate Justice Emmanuel Koroma stated in his 1984 verdict against the Liberian government in the case, Republic of Liberia Vs. the Daily Observer Newspaper, when the Samuel Doe government closed down the newspaper, then proceeded to sue it on a “quo warranto” charge. 

Courageously dismissing the case, Mr. Justice Koroma told the government, “When you come to equity, you must come with clean hands.”  The government’s hands were not clean, he said, because it first took the law into its own   hands by closing down the newspaper before seeking remedy from the court.

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