Those that Have Ears to Hear, Let Them Hear: The Press Will Not Be Cowed into Submission!

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“I have been directed by His Honor Joseph N. Nagbe, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, to cite you for a conference with His Honor on Thursday, May 21, 2020, at the hour of 11:00 a.m., relative to the traffic incident involving you and the Justice which occurred on Monday, May 18, 2020, at about 9:00 a.m. around the Vai Town area while he was following police instructions”.

These were the words contained in Supreme Court Attorney Sam Mamulu’s May 19, 2020 letter addressed to FrontPageAfrica publisher, Rodney Sieh and the management of the OK FM, citing them to appear for a conference with Associate Justice Nagbe. And the incident referred to what was apparently a blatant violation of Liberia’s vehicle and traffic laws committed by the Associate Justice who has defended his action saying he was following Police instructions.

Now the question being asked is just what those instructions were and what was the exigency that warranted Justice Nagbe’s violation of the law and then unjustifiably claiming that he was following Police instructions. Moreover, why did the Police issue such instructions and who in the Police hierarchy authorized such unlawful action by Justice Nagbe?

Further, according to Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia, Judicial officials have immunity from summons, arrests, detention, prosecution or by criminal or civil trial on account of “judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers.” They are however not exempt nor immune to prosecution for acts of treason, or other felonies misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Nowhere in this Article are immunity provisions for Judicial officials to flout the vehicle and traffic laws of Liberia or any other law of Liberia for that matter.

Article 73 reads below as follows:
“No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statement made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding”.

In view of the provisions of Article 73, the Daily Observer questions Justice Nagbe’s assertion that he was following Police instructions. And it appears that it did not matter to him, especially as a lawyer, whether or not those Police instructions were indeed unlawful. Premised on the fact that there is no Constitutional nor legal reliance for his action, it can be justifiably argued that Justice Nagbe was in violation of the law. And he cannot cure such violation by what appears to be a use of his legal powers to bring before the throne of justice individuals who dare venture to point out his dereliction of the law.

In the opinion of this newspaper, Justice Nagbe’s order to have these media executives appear before him is a blatant attempt to muzzle not just the Press but free expression as well. In view of this we must again seek reliance on Chapter III Article 15 of the Constitution of Liberia which reads in full below:

a. Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof. This right shall not be curtailed, restricted or enjoined by government save during an emergency declared in accordance with this Constitution.

b. The right encompasses the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to knowledge. It includes freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom to receive and impart knowledge and information and the right of libraries to make such knowledge available. It includes non-interference with the use of the mail, telephone and telegraph. It likewise includes the right to remain silent.

c. In pursuance of this right, there shall be no limitation on the public right to be informed about the government and its functionaries.

d. Access to state owned media shall not be denied because of any disagreement with or dislike of the ideas express. Denial of such access may be challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.

e. This freedom may be limited only by judicial action in proceedings grounded in defamation or invasion of the rights of privacy and publicity or in the commercial aspect of expression in deception, false advertising and copyright infringement.

Taking the argument further, the Police officer whose instructions Justice Nagbe claims to have been following had no legal authority to issue instructions to the Justice to violate the law by jumping the restrictive barrier and crossing over into the opposite lane and thereby creating serious traffic hazard and a needless but dangerous risk to the lives of others. Should the lives of others be placed at risk because Justice Nagbe had to beat the morning traffic snarl to get to work on time?

But this seems to be the normal and prevailing practice nowadays where impatient drivers jump the queue and cross over into the opposite lane and thereby creating unnecessary and dangerous risks to life. This is a practice which the Police has to curtail by discharging their duties impartially. But it can only be curbed by setting examples from the very top.

Simply put, Big Shots must learn to respect the law by setting good examples. In this regard, Justice Nagbe’s action and his subsequent attempt to justify same appears tantamount to being judge, jury and executioner. He should bear on mind that the Press/Media will not be cowed into submission. And those with ears to hear let them hear because:

THE PRESS WILL NOT BE COWED INTO SUBMISSION!!!

8 COMMENTS

  1. “Moreover, why did the Police issue such instructions and who in the Police hierarchy authorized such unlawful action by Justice Nagbe?” The aforementioned rubbish by you evidences your stupidity and ignorance.

  2. The Pressś or any other institutionś obedience to the law IS NOT “Cowing into Submission” as you ignorantly and stupidly believe. Its a pity that the Press is so poor in terms of due diligence that it had no knowledge of the Amended Traffic Law. Its also a disgrace on the part of the so called President of the LNBA Tiawen Gongloe that he too had no knowledge of the Amended Traffic Law, IMAGINE!

    All they are fundamentally preoccupied with, is politicized legal practice and politicized journalism; especially when they have been bribed to do so, as was the case with Gongloe when he stole police letterhead to obstruct justice, and when the press, especially Rodney Sieh was bribed to lie to the public on the unauthorized printing of money by Milton Weeks and his accomplices.

  3. These our journalists in Liberia are not only silly. They are a disappointment, an embarrassment, and a gargantuan disgrace! And this statement from this other one infra proves their idiocy etc.

    “Taking the argument further, the Police officer whose instructions Justice Nagbe claims to have been following had no legal authority to issue instructions to the Justice to violate the law by jumping the restrictive barrier and crossing over into the opposite lane and thereby creating serious traffic hazard and a needless but dangerous risk to the lives of others.”

    Now, that it has been proven that “the Police officer whose instructions Justice Nagbe claims to have been following” HAD ABSOLUTE LEGITIMATE, LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL “AUTHORITY to issue instructions to the Justice” to IMPLEMENTING the law, WHAT HAS YOUR BACKSIDE TO SAY? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    No wonder when you people come to live here in the USA, you are declared as not having the competence to work as journalists.

    Justice Nagbe is a fine lawyer and judge. Had it been me, I would INITIALLY PUNISH the Rodney Sieh, and then following such punitive measure, summon him and his lawyer for lecture and instructions on the law; as His Honor Justice Nagbe has done in tutoring the LNBAś President and that so called editor on the amended traffic law.

  4. Liberia! You have Problems! All 3 Branches of your Government is not Working as per the Liberian Constitution! The Interpreter of the Laws made by the Legislature is Illiterate! GOD help us please!

  5. Editor/webmaster, you are a fool. Don´t you know about IMPLIED POWERS??? IMPLIED POWER is that power necessary to carry out a power expressly granted (eg Article 65, 66, 73, etc.).

    The Supreme Court and its Justices are the interpreters and final arbiters of Liberian laws. And to carry out such functions, they are granted the IMPLIED RIGHTS AND POWERS TO SUMMON people when they believe it is necessary to do so.

    So, Mr.Ms. Editor/webmaster, your argument based on Articles 15 of the Liberian Constitution is groundless. That article has absolutely no ligament to this subject matter, since the issue here is not about freedom of speech. Take in this education. All you people know is to write nonsense.

  6. Or Daily Observer, don´t you people know about INHERENT POWER also??? INHERENT POWER is power basic to a situation or position, although not backed by an expressed grant of authority.

    My friend, INHERENT POWER OF COURT, OR THAT OF AN OFFICIAL, is a power essential to a courtś or an officialś ability to function in dispensing justice.

    For example, the power of of an official or that office, court, or institution, to punish contempt. Take these judicial lessons so as not to next time present yourself again as a disgrace.

  7. Journalists should abide by professional ethics and move away from the partisanship/ activist mode in a contentiously-divided Liberia. That said, I fail to see what’s wrong with this editorial. For, it’s comical to pretend that “You know who I’m” big-shotism and disobedience of traffic rules have not been a perpetual VIP habit. Frankly, in the not too distant past Rodney Sieh would’ve been arrested and detained until an apology written.

    As someone following various activities in the MRU basin, I know the KKK Act of Press Freedom originated by GMW is the neighborhood’s most pro-journalism legislation. For instance, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, great-granddaughter of our own late Pan-Africanist guru Dr Edward Blyden, and a managing editor of Sierra Leone’s Telegraph Newspaper who once served as Minister of Social Welfare, has been in police custody since her arrest on May 1, 2020 for harmless COVID-19 comments the authorities considered “incitement and subversive” statements.

    Well, talking of heavy-handedness in the best (police) practice apprehension and detention of Dumoe because of terroristic threats, a teenage child-advocate got arrested also for posting an appeal in Facebook for Dr. Blyden’s release. Had these incidents happened at home, ‘acclaimed’ political DISRUPTOR Henry Costa would’ve called for nationwide protests, and, some would say, burning down of Monrovia from the safety of wherever he resides in America.

  8. Sylvester Moses, whatś wrong with the editorial is this editor not “abiding by professional ethics” and getting stuck in his “partisanship/ activist mode”!

    This is the case ipso facto his anti-journalistic principle of not attaining the other side of the story from the Associate Justice before publishing his one sided, inaccurate, false and imbalance story as has been made convincingly clear after the public got the true and accurate story.

    So according to you, journalists should just go on publishing stories based on “perpetual VIP habits of the past”? From all extrapolations, this is your argument. And such makes your position not only “comical”, but indeed blatantly unreasonable; especially so, when you “talk about” “professional ethics” while giving credence to flagrant unprofessional ethics!

    NO wonder you have not been able to notice the editorś idiocy and ignorance viz the doctrines of implied and inherent powers.

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