Internationally acclaimed educational brand, Bridge International Academies has sued several Liberian journalists including Global News Network Liberia (GNN-Liberia) for a US$1.5 million libel offense.
The lawsuit was filed by Ms. Corina Totimeh Wornee, Director of Schools; Bridge Liberia who report says manages and supervises hundreds of teachers and schools across fourteen counties in Liberia.
Recently group of employees in their rather angry mood regarding the unusual happenings spoke to the GNN expressing their frustration over the way things are happening including the misused of public office including alleged bad labor practices by the Country Director of Bridge International Liberia, a Kenyan National Griffin Asigo.
Some of the allegations leveled against Asigo by the employees was his alleged linked to sexual molestation on women who are employed, making specific reference of having a relationship with Ms. Corina Totimeh Wornee, Director of Schools, and other allegations the employees leveled against the Bridge Liberia boss.
When GNN contacted Asigo at the time, it was told that the Bridge International Liberia Country Director was out of the country, but still in pursue of the facts surrounding this alleged act of bad labor practices and other, GNN-Liberia also made contact with the headquarters of Bridge International in Kenya via emails to find out, but still the management did not response to its inquiry.
GNN Liberia also made contact with the Director of School, Ms. Corina Totimeh Wornee via phone calls including text messages, and also made several visits at the entity’s onrovia office aimed at ascertain the facts to the allegation leveled against her by the employees, but still she could not be reached, neither did she response to the inquiry of the paper.
In an exclusive interview with three Bridge employees, including a Kenyan said that they had written the owner of the company, Dr. Shannon May, calling for full investigation into allegations of sexual relationship between Ms. Totimeh and Mr. Asigo which they alleged continuously fell on deaf ears with this information, an article was published by the GNN Liberia after several attempts to have the company respond to said inquiry fell on ice.
GNN has since obtained circulated emails to the global team from these employees who wrote the company’s hierarchy to investigate the reported romance and used those to publish with more findings sought after. With Bridge failing to investigate such grave concerns and supporting a lawsuit from Ms. Corina Totimeh Wornee leaves many to wonder what the company is hiding.
However, information gathered has revealed that Mr. Asigo has reportedly been relieved of his role as Country Director Liberia with Madam Wornee expected to follow same fate for all these allegations which are yet to be investigated as several employees in the company are willing to testify about the reported sexual romance that has since eroded work and ethics at the company.
Liberia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides for the right to freedom of expression. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors state compliance with the treaty, has stated that imprisonment is not an appropriate penalty for defamation. By allowing awards in defamation cases that are far beyond the ability of most Liberian newspapers to pay – and mandating imprisonment for non-payment – Liberian law makes imprisonment the likely outcome of many defamation cases, which creates a serious chilling effect on journalism.
In any case, imprisonment for non-payment of a court-ordered debt, while permitted under Liberian law, should only be used as a last resort and for as short a period as possible.
For this, many reforms have been instituted to curtail such with President Weah initiating same to stop harassment of journalists and whistle blowers who call for investigation into issues that border on cases as such; Bridge International as a global brand cannot seem to be violating such laws that infringes on free speech and freedom of the press.
With huge global partners like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and IT genius Bill Gates, Bridge international is expected to follow basic international practices that protect free speech.
Below is one of the communications released by employees to this outlet