Despite Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillo rejection that members of the Liberian Senate did receive $6,000.00 each to endorse President George Weah’s State of Emergency (SoE) request to help fight the deadly Coronavirus, Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson has confirmed that yes indeed they received the amount in question.
Speaking on the Truth FM radio today, April 23, 2020, Senator Prince Johnson said members of the Senate received the amount to speed up the endorsement of the Liberian leader request on the State of Emergency, a situation he said was done by all senators, and expressed disappointment that one of the Senators, Darius Dillon who he disclosed did receive said amount has denied ever doing so.
Senator Darius Dillon, speaking on the same radio, the Truth FM this week denied ever receiving $6,000.00 to endorse the SoE, noting that the money received from the President was what he called a “Special Operation”.
But the admittance by Senator Darius Dillon, did not go unnoticed as long time politician and educator, David Kortee, has termed the action by the Senators to take unto themselves 6,000 United States dollars as ‘special operation fund’, when thousands ordinary people go to bed hungry is not just wicked but is unpatriotic which warrant an immediate investigation.
There has been no independent word from Senator Darius Dillon on the matter as lot regards him of one of the selfless Senators Liberia has ever produced.
In all this, Senator Dillion has clarified that at no time did senators on Capitol Hill received any money to approved president George Weah request for a state of emergency.
According to Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, the Wednesday April 22, 2020 edition of the New Dawn News Pepper with the caption “Senators net US$180,000 -for endorsing State of Emergency” is false and misleading.
The Montserrado county senator however noted that it is the function as lawmaker to scrutinized resolution brought before them and anyone doing so should be considered as criminal.
The Montserrado county senator spoke Wednesday when he presented four hundred thousand Liberian dollars to stomp victims of Montserrado County District #11 through their direct representative Richard Koon at the Barnesville Estate football field.
At the time, Montserrado county district 11 representative Richard Nagbe Koon has presented additional cash to recent stomp victims in his district.
Receiving the donation from the Montserrado county lawmaker some of the victims in tears lauded lawmaker Koon for the gesture and called humanitarians including the government for more support.
It may be recalled, The Center for the Protection of Journalist CPJ, and Reporters without borders have slam in joint a statement the continued refusal of the government of Liberia to settled the debts owed to media houses in Liberia.
“CPJ joins the Press the Publishers Association of Liberia(PAL) to express concern about the government withholding payment of debts to media houses, exacerbating already difficult economic circumstances for journalists. ”
For its part,the Committee to Protect Journalists stated that the continued refusal by the government is a joint attempt by government to silence the Liberian media.
“As the state owes around two hundred, forty-seven thousand, United States dollars (US$247.000) of advertising in the press, about 12 newspapers are at risk of going bankrupt. RSW is very much concerned by the media outlets survival already in economic disarray amid the COVID19 crisis.
The two leading international journalists watchdog organizations are backing the Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) in expressing serious disappointment over the George Weah-led government’s reluctance to meet up with its indebtedness with the struggling Liberian media two years after the ruling CDC government came to power.
In separate Twitter tweets Tuesday, both organizations expressed concerns with plight of newspaper publishers.
“CPJ joins the Press the Publishers Association of Liberia(PAL) to express concern about the government withholding payment of debts to media houses, exacerbating already difficult economic circumstances for journalists, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Reporters Without Borders added: As the state owes around US$247 of advertising in the press, about 12 newspapers are at risk of going bankrupt. RSW is very much concerned by the media outlets survival already in economic disarray amid the COVID19 crisis.
Mr. Othello Garblah, head of the PAL, welcomed the interventions of the two journalists’ watchdog groups and emphasized that it is important for media houses to continue to pile the pressure on the administration to pay up.
Garblah has been a strong advocate against government dissolving past media debts into what has become the infamous “handshake” settlements, to the disadvantage of media houses.
The PAL, at an emergency meeting in Monrovia last Friday, stated that despite the government’s repeated promises to meet up with its financial obligations to the media, it appears to have deliberately refused to live up to its promises.
As a result, media institutions are going through serious financial crisis, as their advertising base remains at a low, compounded by the government’s failure to pay its debt, is the fact that the Executive Mansion website has over the past years has taken away vacancy notices and other adverts from the local media.
The prevailing situation is forcing the media into collapse, amid the daily high cost of printing, generator fuel and other logistics that the media need to pay for on a daily basis in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It may be recalled, at meeting of Newspaper publishers over the weekend, the media practitioners warned that government’s continuous failure to pay its debt to media institutions would eventually lead them to taking several actions, including media blackout and possible withdrawal from the newsstands.
The media practitioners recalled that late last year during the induction of the President of the Press Union of Liberia the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. publicly announced that the Liberian Government was willing to settle all media bills.
In all this, there has been no word from the government of Liberia regarding the allegation of refusal to settled debts owed many of the Newspapers in Liberia.
President George Weah, is expected to address the nation in a nationwide address on the progress of the COVID-19 response efforts by the government of Liberia, but there a anticipations that the Liberian leader will speak to this overdue debt settlement of the media in the wake of an anticipated lockdown of Montserrado and Margibi counties.
Efforts are underway to get reactions from the government of Liberia over this latest allegation of refusal to settle the Liberian media.