Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3 Media Executives Summoned

For Reports on Alledged ‘Mis-applied’ US$1.2M by Supreme Court At least three media executives have been summoned by Justices of the Supreme Court to give reasons, if any, as to why they should not be held in contempt for publishing articles surrounding the alledged misapplication of some US$ 1.2 Million intended for the purchase of 27 vehicles to be used by circuit court judges around the country. Those summoned to appear before the Supreme Court judges today include: Mr. Jerome Dolieh, Managing Editor of the News Newspaper, Mr. George D. Watkins, Managing Editor of the Daily Graphic Newspaper and Mr. Rodney Sieh, Managing Editor of the Front Page Africa Newspaper which published the allegation on this February 7, 8, and 22 respectively. According to the Writ of Summons for Contempt addressed to the Marshall of the Supreme Court, the News Newspaper in its February 7, 2012 Vol. 23, No. 185 published an article under the headline US$1 Million Dollars Diverted at Temple of Justice, while the Daily Graphics in its February 8, 2012 published another article titled Rotten Supreme Court. The writ which also mentioned the Front Page Africa (wikileaks) which February 22, 2012 publication entitled High Court Scandal- Supreme Court Justices Feast on US$ 1 Million intended for Courts had an attached web article copied from the FPA website entitled Liberia Supreme Court Justices on Fire after US$1.2 Million Feast. Accordign to the attached web article, President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who allocated the funds, had promised to establish a full-scale investigation into the why the US$1.2 Million for vehicular purchase was not used for its intended purpose. The article alledged that the four associate Justices of the Supreme Court, namely: Philip A.Z. Banks, Francis S. Kporkor sr., Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie and Kabinah M. Ja’neh, received about US$125,000 of the mis-applied funds, while Chief Justice Johnny Lewis refused to take his US$150,000 share of the funds. Despite the refusal of his portion to the alledgedly shared money, as the article puts it, reliable sources told the FPA that the Chief Justice approved the funds for the purchase of vehicles. It is not clear what level of damages the various newspapers’ articles have inflicted on the third brench of government, but it has been speculated that the articles could bring the Judiciary to disrepute. It can be recalled that in 2006 when His Honor Johnny Lewis took over the Supreme Court as Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, he promised to eliminate corruption in the judicial circle of Liberia. With the recent reports circulating in the media about the diversion and mis-application of entrusted funds given to the Supreme Court to help strenghten the capacity of judges in the country, some critics have begun to argue that corruption has intensified in the justice system. Since the writ was issues, some critics have been saying that the action is intended to silent the media from reporting on frauds in the justice system and the government as a whole.

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