Morgan Estate Lawsuit Leads To FrontPage Africa Newspaper Closure, As MICAT Clarifies Media Report

Lennart Dodoo, Editor of FPA was amongst those arrested today and taken to court

(LINA) – Two of the five administrators of the Morgan Intestate Estate of Lawrence A. Morgan have filed a US$350,000 damages lawsuit against the FrontPage Africa newspaper and three co-administrators, leading to the closure of the newspaper Monday.

The co-administrators are Henry V.L. Morgan, Edwin A. Morgan, Gbein Morgan of the Morgan Interstate Estate.

The case titled: “Damages for wrong by attachment” was prompted by publications by the FrontPage newspaper in its editions of Thursday, March 8, 2018, Vol.12, No.48; Monday, March 12, 2018 and Vol.12, No.50 and Friday, March 16, 2018.

The publications alleged that Mr. Henry A. K. Morgan, Anthony C. Morgan and Moses T. Konah, who presented themselves as administrators of the Lawrence A. Morgan Estate, are not “authorized to lease, sell, collect rents or transact any other business on behalf of the Estate or that of Christine Morgan-Richards.”

The complainants listed in the Writ of Attachment described the publications as ‘defamatory’ to their hard earned characters.

In his mandate, Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, ordered the Sheriff to place an attachment on the respondents’ properties, including vehicles, equipment and any other assets in the above case to testify to the plaintiff’s request of US$350,000 and have same safely impounded, kept or locked.

Judge Gbeisay further mandated that the Sheriff proceeds to the premises of the respondents and cause the properties, personal or real, to be attached consistent with law and take possession and custody of same until otherwise ordered by the court.

The defendants are expected to appear in court during this March Term to show reason or reasons why they should not be committed to a common jail.

Their failure to appear in court will result to judgment by default.

In a related development, the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) has clarified that the closure of the newspaper and arrest of some of its staff was not on the orders of the government of Liberia.

In a press release issued late Monday afternoon, MICAT said contrary to the erroneous claims that have inundated social media platforms and other news outlets on Monday, April 9, the legal suit against the entity was one of a private nature between the FPA and Henry A.K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah of the City of Monrovia.

The Government of Liberia wants to reemphasize its commitment to free press and the freedom of expression, according to a statement issued by the Information Ministry.

It recalled that during the recent transfer of UNMIL Radio to ECOWAS Radio, President George Manneh Weah again renewed this pledge and promised to resubmit the draft Act to decriminalize speech offenses so as to give media entities protection against closures and arrests in civil cases of defamation and libel.

However, when GNN contacted the Editor of the paper this afternoon. Mr. Lennart Dodoo confirmed their arrest and said a legal team to the paper stood their bond to go back as being noted by the Court. He however said they were working on tomorrow’s production of the paper

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About Cholo Brooks 6233 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.