As the battle between the Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism (MICAT), Atty. Isaac Jackson publicly insulting each other on a local radio station in Monrovia throwing inventive at each other many Liberians have described the action of the two as ‘Unbecoming’.
The PUL Vice President, Mr. Jallah Grayfield has complained to the police that his life has been threatened by Mr. Jerolinmek Piah, Presidential Secretary in a text message, and therefore craves for the intervention of the police.
The police in return on September 6, 2016 wrote Mr. Jackson inviting him for a conference; see full communication of Minister Jackson’s reply to the police:
September 7, 2016 Hon. Chris Massaquoi
Liberia National Police
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Dear Col. Massaquoi:
My attention has been drawn to a letter under the signature of Mr. Jallah Grayfield, dated September 6, 2016, addressed to your office and circulated to many important institutions, alleging among other things, that Presidential Press Secretary, Honorable Jerolinmek Piah threatened his life in a text message. Quite honestly, it is an open secret in journalistic circles that alcohol has taken the better part of Mr. Jallah Grayfield and as such, I like to respectfully request that you dismiss those unmerited allegations contained in his letter for the below factual reasons to wit:
Firstly, Mr. Grayfield is being deceptive and economical with the truth. The facts are that I appeared on Prime Morning Drive (FM 105.5) on September 6, 2016 and was discussing a wide-range of media and media-related issues including what led to the court action filed by the Liberia Telecommunication Authority, leading to the closure of ‘Liberia’s richest business man’, Benoni Urey’s Love FM 105.1 radio station. During the discussion, Mr. Grayfield called into the show and instead of discussing the subject matter, chose to attack my personality that I’m frustrated because I am impotent and my two children came as a result of my wife’s extra-marital affairs. I responded that he [Grayfield] was tarnishing the image of the PUL by his misconduct prompted by his addiction to alcohol intake and challenged him to bring one of his relatives to go through my potency test.
It was at this juncture that Hon. Piah, as a big brother to the both of us, told Mr. Grayfield that his utterance on the radio was out of order and that he was a “disgrace to the PUL.” Mr. Grayfield replied that “Since I’m a disgrace to the PUL, you are also a big foolish disgrace to the government, hope this will be your last stop.” He went on to text, stating that Hon. Piah is “a big rubbish.”
Hon. Piahthen text him back and said “you will feel what you have started.” There are two contexts to Piah’s text message. The first context is that media friends know that Hon. Piah always organize gratuity for Jallah Grayfield and it is from that context that Hon. Piah told him he will feel what he started, meaning that in the wake of Jallah’s rude conduct he wouldn’t continuously benefit from Piah’sgenerosity. The second context is that Piah is of the view that JallahGaryfield has huge character liabilities and that he would have suffered terribly from the character assassination war that he (Jallah) has ignited.
Secondly, it is public knowledge that JallahGrayfield, as Vice President of the PUL, has been grappling with credibility problem for putting his professional judgment at the disposal of the highest bidder. Even the Executive Committee of the PUL, in 2015, was compelled to suspend Grayfield for bestowing a fake PUL Award on a businessman after receiving bribe. Evidentially, you can google: (https://davidtargbe.wordpress.com/…/press-union-of-liberia–suspends–vice–president-g.). Recently, the Strategic Journalist Committee, a media think tank, accused Grayfield and other PUL executives of receiving “huge sum of money” from businessman Urey to influence the PUL’slatest position on the closure of LOVE FM 105.1, although Mr. Urey himself admitted in an interview with the BBC that his station was in tax arrears with government in the tune of over US$50,000.
At another occasion, a Senator from River Cess County publicly chastised some officials of the Press Union for extorting 30,000LD from him to settle a running dispute with editorial staff at thecommunity radio station in his [Senator’s] favor.
Even though, Grayfield and his cohorts are erroneously impressing the outside world that the Ellen-led administration is not media friendly, the indisputable evidence to the contrary are well documented, ranging from the government’s cash contribution of US$100,000 to a PUL’s headquarters construction project to legislating international instruments to expand the frontier of media freedom in the country.
Hon. Inspector General, Grayfield’s accusation of a smear campaign being launched against him by me is a deliberate falsehood unworthy of the sheet on which it is written. While I am not of the assumption that all men are rational, there are some men, by virtue of the office they occupy, are expected to be level headed. Regrettably, for Mr. Grayfield, who calls himself a journalist, having publicly accused me of impotency without any empirical evidence,will turn around, and suggest that a smear campaign is being launched against him, says volume about the fellow’s mental state of mind. His accusation is alcohol induced and must be disregarded.
Even though Mr. Grayfield could be held liable for Criminal Malevolence in keeping with Section 11.14 of the Panel Law of Liberia; I will decline pursuing that course of action due to our Government’s expressed commitment and accession to the Table Mountain Declaration. But, not withstanding, I like to encourage you to invite Mr. Grayfield to establish the authenticity of his claim regarding my “impotency”.
Anyway, aware that the Presidential Press Secretary will not dignify JallahGrayfield’s nonsensical allegation with a response, I just thought to succinctly narrate the facts, firstly, because I think, you deserve to have official knowledge of what really transpired. And secondly, because Mr. Grayfield mentioned me in his complaint to your office creating the false impression that the ‘mobile text’ exchanges between him and Hon. Piah constituted a “threat” against him from government.
In all fairness, our government has and continues to demonstrate ample evidence of its commitment to promoting the centrality of the free press and the spread of civil liberties in the country and as such, will not revert to threatening anyone as is being falsely claimed by Mr. Grayfield.
Finally, and seriously speaking, a verbal reprimand not followed by any substantial action cannot be sensibly construed as a threat. Furthermore, a background check of Hon. Piah will not show him as a violent character, he is an avowed Catholic and a longtime advocate of social justice, so the argument of threat is downright nonsensical and cannot stand in any court of law, least to mention, the court of public opinion. Hence, I request that you dismiss the complaint and advise Mr. Grayfield to desist from conducts that embarrass and portray Liberian journalists negatively.
Atty. Isaac W. Jackson, Jr.
Deputy Minister for Press & Public Affairs
Cc: Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism
Press Union of Liberia
United States Embassy
Delegation of the European Union
National Civil Society Council of Liberia
West Africa Journalists Association
Committee for the Protection of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Federation of Journalists
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Human Rights Watch
Media Institute of Southern Africa