.... Justice Ministry corrals the international community’s support to quell disinformation as it promises to deal with perpetrators
The Ministry of Justice has issued a press statement raising concerns about a video that has made rounds on social media platforms claiming that President George Weah is training militias in order to intimidate opposition leaders should they challenge his (Weah’s) alleged rigging of the elections in 2023.
The statement delivered by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the Justice Ministry said the video containing a caucasian man alleging that President Weah is using billions of dollars to train a “terrorist group” is fake and lacks any iota of truth.
“The attention of the government has been drawn to a malicious video being circulated on social media, which makes erroneous and incendiary claims about the state of affairs in the country. While the recent uptick in political activities ahead of general and presidential elections is understandable, “no amount of desperation should lead us to toy with our security,” The Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, said.
Dean is also acting chair of the Cabinet while President Weah, along with his entourage, attends the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States of America.
In the video, the presenter alleged that there are less than 600 soldiers in the country and that Weah is using the billions of Liberian dollars that allegedly went missing in 2018 to train mercenaries from Burkina Faso, Boko Haram from Nigeria, Al-Qaeda, as well as others from Nimba County (Liberia) and Ivory Coast.
The Presenter, unidentified and reporting on an unidentified broadcast outlet, alleged that those recruited are undergoing training in Grand Gedeh County, the home of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe.
According to the unidentified reporter, there are stockpiles of weapons hosted in the unfinished private mansion of the late President Doe, situated in Zwedru.
“He warned that engaging in false news with a clear intent to incite and create agitation in the general population is against the law; and therefore anyone found fermenting or sponsoring activities intended to create chaos could face the full weight of the law,” the press statement from the Information Ministry said, quoting Justice Minister Dean.
“The video not only cast aspersions on our enviable electoral system — which has gained much international acclaim recently — it also dangerously posited that the government is bringing in the country nefarious elements intended to create violence,” the statement said.
In the video, the presenter further alleged that Weah is also recruiting former members of the disbanded notorious Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) of former President Charles Taylor so as to boost the morale of other alleged militias undergoing said training.
One of the indications that the video might indeed be fake is the fact that the photos of Kai Farley and Zoe Emmanuel Pennue, Superintendent and Senator (respectively) of Grand Gedeh County, are mislabeled. Under Farley’s photo is “Zoe Emmanuel Pennue '' while Senator Pennue’s photo is captioned with Farley’s name.
The presenter inserted the two photos, alleging that the two men are direct lieutenants of Weah in carrying out the alleged training in Grand Gedeh.
According to the presenter who remains unknown, Farley and Pennue are noted for rigging elections in Grand Gedeh in favor of candidates who contest on the ticket of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and, by extension, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of Weah.
He referenced the mysterious disappearance of Alfred Dunner, a senior election magistrate for Grand Gedeh, due to his (Dunner’s) alleged refusal to participate in rigging of election in favor of a CDC candidate in a recent election.
“Weah’s plan is to kill Grand Gedeans and allow Burkinabes to take over the county,” the unidentified presenter in the video alleged.
He added that Nathaniel McGill, former Minister of State who is sanctioned by the US Treasury Department is linked to secret killings too and that Jefferson Koijee, the Mayor of Monrovia, is also linked to training of the dangerous and illegal terror group.
On the allegations, the Minister of Justice said they are false and could possibly endanger the country’s stability and international reputation, if now utterly checked and debunked by the country’s international partners.
“The Justice Minister has therefore engaged Liberia's international partners, including the heads of the Embassies of the U.S. and European Union, calling on them to vehemently condemn the dangerous and inciteful ploy which seeks to undermine Liberia's hard-earned peace,” the release said. “He said the onus is upon the International community to debunk this creeping menace as the particular video in question directly alleges that it was they [the international Community] who uncovered a plot.”
Rennie assured the public that the Weah-led government will leave no stone unturned to protect its citizens and all other residents.
Meanwhile, the international community, comprising diplomatic outposts and missions to Liberia, issued a joint statement distancing themselves from the video as it alleges that the plot was uncovered by the international community.
“The International Community in Liberia wishes to state categorically that the statements contained in the piece have no connection with the International Community in Liberia nor are we aware of any basis for any allegation contained in this piece. We strongly condemn any attempt to link the International Community with these allegations which could threaten and undermine national security,” the statement issued on Saturday, September 17, said.
The statement continued: “We stress that those responsible must be held accountable. We once again remind all political and media stakeholders of their responsibility to refrain from hate speech, disinformation, and violence especially in the run-up to the 2023 elections.”
The community, inclusive of the embassies of the United States, People’s Republic of China, and the European Union, as well as other missions, reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Liberia’s peace and stability.