- Liberia’s banned radical newspaper, ‘The Independent’ again has a beef with the government over allegations that its management was frustrated that it has sought for state pardon instead of allowing the legal process to exhaust at the Supreme Court.
A one-year ban was slapped on the paper for publishing pictures of Liberia’s most senior Presidential Minister, Willis Knuckles, having sex with two women. Mr Knuckles, a well-respected executive until the expose, was left with no option than tendering his resignation in a country does not accept sex scandal involving political leaders.
The government faulted the paper for disregarding the penal code, which outlaws the publication of such materials for public consumption.
Lawrence Bropleh, the Liberian Information Minister defended the ban, saying it “has nothing to do with Minister Knuckles. This has something to do with ethics of journalism. This has to do with understanding that when you are in a civilized society, you do not publish pornography in a regular newspaper.”
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who accepted the embarrassing resignation, regretted the Mr Knuckles’ act, but maintained that her government would not condone improper behaviour, especially by a senior official.
The disgraced minister apologised to his wife, family and the public for misbehaving.
Angered by the ban, the paper’s management sought redress at the courts. In a recent statement, Mr Bropleh accused the paper’s managing editor, Mr Dean, of begging and negotiating with the government to pardon the paper to come back to the newspaper market.
Mr Dean rubbished the Minister’s claims as a bunch of lies calculated to put ‘The Independent’ into disrepute.
He said the paper’s management believes in the due process of the law. Mr Dean also they are not desperate for the reopening of the paper. “We therefore want to waiting for the court’s ruling and not the pardon,” he said.
Mr Knuckles might be living with shame, but he has made history for resigning in a region where public officials wait to be fired for committing such crimes.
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