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Minister Nagbe: Paye-layleh is deceptive to claim asylum

Edward Tamba /Maximilian K.Kasseh,Jr.
Information Minister Eugene Nagbe
Information Minister Eugene Nagbe

MONROVIA, LIBERIA-Information Minister Eugene Nagbe says Journalist Jonathan Paye-layleh is being deceptive to claim that his life is under threat, for which he has reportedly sort asylum in the United States.

Minister Nagbe has also accused journalist Paye-layleh of working for the defunct National Patriot Front of Liberia propaganda machinery.

Minister Nagbe said: “At the time President Weah was seeking disarmament among warrant factions in Liberia’s civil war, Paye-layleh was busy preaching a positive image of the NPFL.”

Speaking to ELBC Monday, April 9, 2018, Minister Nagbe maintained that President Weah’s comments that Paye-layleh was against him is based on this background.

He noted that President Weah has no personal misgivings with Journalist Paye-layleh and other media practitioners in Liberia. The Minister re-committed government’s willingness to protect free press under the CDC-led Administration.

In a publication by The Public Trust Media Group (PTMG), the BBC and AP Monrovia Correspondent in Monrovia, Jonathan Paye-Layleh, earlier sought to get clarification from the Liberian Presidency but to no avail.

Journalist, Jonathan Paye-Layleh

He also wrote an Open Letter to the First Lady, Clar Weah, as well as Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor and later extended his efforts in reaching out to the following institutions:

Full text of the Open Letter to:
April 7, 2018
The National Legislature of Liberia
The Ministry of Information, Liberia
The Liberia Council of Churches
The National Muslim Council of Liberia
The Inter-Religious Council
The National Bishops Council
The National Imams Council of Liberia
The Liberia National Bar Association
Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia
The National Students Union
The Female Legislative Caucus
The Human Rights Community
The Independent Human Rights Commission
The Female Legislative Caucus
The Evangelicals Association of Liberia
The Press Union of Liberia
The Federation of Liberian Youth
University of Liberia Students Union
Student Unification Party, University of Liberia
Council of Chiefs and Elders
The Gbowee Foundation
The Human Rights Community
The Female Journalists Association of Liberia
The National Superintendents   Council
Political Parties
The Liberia Business Association
Liberia Broadcasting System
Dear Fellow Citizens

I greet you from where I current sit as I continue a struggle to survive in the face of an imminent danger to my existence. I write to seek your immediate intervention in a situation that,  if  not handled properly and swiftly, could result in the loss of another  Liberian life.I am addressing you officially now because it appears hearing about this in the media for over two weeks now has not given you enough reason to act —- and act to avoid a disaster waiting   to happen.

For your information,  a  little  over two weeks ago,  I embarked on an effort to seek a SIMPLE CLARITY AND EXPLANATION from the president, His Excellency  George Manneh  Weah,  about a stinging  attack he had launched against me and my professional life.

The president had said during a media stakeout with the visiting Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed,  that when he (Mr. President) was advocating for human rights in Liberia (in the past) I was “one person against” him and his effort. This implies that I am anti-human rights.  I  simply asked the president if he was willing to do what Human Rights Watch had asked him to do —- to create a space for victims of the civil war to face their alleged perpetrators.

A day or two later, the president reinforced his accusation against me  when, in a formal Executive Mansion release, he said while he was fighting for social justice in Liberia during the fourteen-year civil war,  I was bent on undermining his  effort “by depicting a positive image of the carnage” of the  war.

Because those were very damaging to my person and professional standing, I simply launched an effort, asking the media community and the public to join me in seeking explanation from Mr. President.

In seeking clarity from Mr. President, I was gripped with fears that if such strong allegations were not addressed and put to rest, they could place me in harm’s way with the tens or probably hundreds of thousands of supporters of the president who would see me as an enemy to a leader they so love and believe in.

I thought I could not have been more civil and peaceful in my attempt to get some explanation from His Excellency.

But with a heavy heart and sadness, fellow citizens, I write to inform you formally  that this peaceful and civilized attempt at trying to hear from Mr. President has placed me in double predicaments.  Some supporters of the president are angry that I have confronted him and so they have threatened to get even with me. This is Liberia.

I have continued to receive phone calls and tips that I should be careful and, if possible,  get myself into safety. Leaving Liberia unwillingly is something I have always tried to avoid even when the war was raging here.

When I launched the appeal for explanation from the president,  I wanted to prevent  reprisals from his diehard supporters; but now, seeking an explanation peacefully and respectfully has put me in bigger dangers.

President Weah’s open allegations that I was against him and his subsequent official press statement that I painted a positive image of the bloodletting of the civil war have propelled his followers to harm me. By his assertions, he has sanctioned harms against me.

I need your intervention to prevent the loss of another Liberian life;  the reaction that I see from the president’s diehards is scaring to say the least.

I took years to build my reputation,  knowing good name is better than shady wealth;  and I can’t  allow  a moment to ruin what I have worked so hard to earn; that was the basis for my inquiry into what the president had alleged so bluntly against me.

President Weah will admit  that I am one of those who helped to get his good work as a nationalist and footballer  to be known across the globe;  and paying me back with vengeance and hatred and a direct threat to my life is what baffles me. I am scared.

His outburst against me  in the presence of foreign dignitaries has inflicted the heaviest injuries to my person and the gains I have made in my career. But more seriously, it has placed me in the hands of his diehard supporters to harm. They now see me as an enemy to their leader.

We all respect Mr.  Weah as a Liberian who made  name for himself and the nation more than twenty years before becoming president; but  I have never harboured a thinking that asking him for a simple clarity (a simple interaction between a journalist and  the president) would anger him to the extent of  indirectly presenting me to his supporters as his enemy.

I could not have done it better than simply asking for explanation.
I therefore need all of your intervention in explaining to Mr. President that my decision to seek a simple explanation from him has put my life in clear and physical danger.

If he says through you that it was wrong to seek clarity on the accusation he had made against me, I will be happy to hear that from you.  But I think the best he can do is to just say what he meant when he addressed me the way he did  in the full glare of foreign dignitaries.

Even during and throughout the bloody civil war that I committed myself to reporting on, my life was never threatened this way;  I am down-hearted that a personality from the  background of a sport that we all so love could be the one to endanger the life of a compatriot for no reason.

The reactions of some of the President’s supporters on social media to this stance of mine validate the fear that I have for my life.

Let me be clear here; I am not  asking President Weah to apologize to me; he’s above that; he’s too big a person to do so;  I am  simply seeking clarification on the allegations he has made against me. Period.

I am terribly saddened that previous efforts, including  an open letter of appeal to the First Lady and the Vice President, begging them to use their influence and motherly sensitivity to ask Mr. President for clarity have so far proven unsuccessful. I am disappointed. But I think it is not too late for the two to act; doing that to save my life is better than waiting to deliver eulogies at a funeral.

Our failure as a nation to be proactive has gained us a negative reputation in recent memories.

The bodies of victims of apparent political reprisals have been found on beaches in recent years; and due to our general lack of sophistication to determine what has happened,  those  killings have only been left to national investigations whose outcomes have never been made known. Families have only been left to grieve over their losses.

What this means, in my opinion,  is instead of waiting for lives to be taken away  and we start wondering what has happened, when we see dangers coming, we have to apply the minimum degree of proactivity to avert  the unfortunate.

This is the situation that I  find myself in at the moment; the president of Liberia has made very strong allegations against me; and my quest to seek clarity because it involves my reputation and life  has further placed me in danger with some of his  supporters who feel that I don’t have the right as a human being to seek an explanation about allegations made against me.

Mr. President should be reminded that he took an oath to protect and defend the constitution of Liberia which says people are held responsible for the negative consequences of their speech.

I look forward to your collective or individual   inquiry into this life-threatening situation;   your silence on this national matter will not help.  Make a move now to prevent a loss of Liberian life.

And in doing so, I ask, as I have always done, that we all remain peaceful, law-abiding  and respectful to the president,  but persistent until he provides the explanation I am seeking.  The world community is watching.

Thanks  very kindly for your attention
Yours truly
Jonathan Paye-Layleh
Liberian Journalist



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