Liberia: Who’s Violating the President’s Mandate? Government Officials Back on Social Media with Inflammatory Messages

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MONROVIA – Mr. Charles F. Kaizal, Internal Security Coordinator at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) lost his job Monday evening for attempting to defend the integrity of the Bank without authorization.

Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]

His vain attempt to provide clarity on the Costa Show by providing talk show host, Henry Costa, with two separate documents, relating to photographs and videos of what appeared to be several boxes of cash which came on a Kenya Airways flight on May 10, 2019, displayed by Costa. 

Mr. Costa claimed that the monies were taken to the home of President Weah. To the surprise of many listening Monday, Mr. Kaizal walked to the Roots FM’s studio to counter that there were in fact, two shipments of money, one arriving on May 10 and another on May 27, 2019. Although he did not get a chance to air his reactions on the air, Kaizal did leave some documents validating Mr. Costa’s assertions but noted that another shipment of money had come in on the 27th of May.

But his action was in disregard to a recent presidential mandate ordering all officials of government to refrain from making public comments on policy issues of national concern on both conventional and social media without first seeking authorization from the appropriate authorities. 

Kaizal, though dismissed, was picked up from the premises of Prime FM, a local radio station in Monrovia by operatives of the National Security Agency, immediately after his appearance of the Prime Morning Drive program.

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He was taken to an unknown location.

But Kaizal is not the only public official going against this presidential mandate. Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Mr. Samora P. Wolokollie has taken to social media, particularly Facebook posting “Don’t provoke the Congress for Democratic Change!!! We will come outside oh. Ehn your know when we come out? Mont. Come. Oh yeah!!!”.

Min. Wolokollie’s posts, to many, implies that the ruling Coalition intends staging a counter protest on June 7 when the Council of Patriots would be demonstrating against ‘misrule and mismanagement of the economy and violations of the Constitution’. Fears are that, such counter protest may cause provocation from either side which might likely lead to commotion.

On Monday, it took the police to calm a standoff between supporters of Rep. Yekeh Kolubah and some youth believed to be pro-government supporters. Rep. Kolubah, a controversial critic of the President Weah and his administration is also one of the members of the Council of Patriots organizing the June 7 protest.

The pro-government supporters, according to reports, began raining invectives at the lawmaker and threw stones at him and his supporters, leading to the injury of some of his supporters.

Pundits say if this kind of standoff should happen on June 7 and not properly managed, it would have the propensity to escalate beyond police control.

However, adding to the already brewing tension is the head of Customer Service at the Roberts International Airport, Ms. Joanna Maximillian Peters wrote on Facebook:

“If you die on June 7, history will remember you, your family will regret but Lib will be free cause you are one of Liberia’s problems”

She wrote in another post: “When you na wait for June 7th to protest and you go wear save the state T-shirt in the wrong community and the people flog you there da ma daynay? I beg your don mix me up in your wahala.”

While it is not clear what these government officials hoped to achieved with these social media posts, they are clearly in violation of President Weah’s directive restricting appointed officials from making public comments on policy issues of national concern on both conventional and social media without first seeking authorization from the appropriate authorities. The decision followed the suspension of Mr. Eugene Fahngon, Deputy Minister for Press at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism over insensitive remarks regarding the country-congau divide.

At the beginning of this month, BBC reportedly a new measure being introduced by the U.S. State Department, wherein, some applicants of U.S. visas would be required to submit their social media credentials as part of the application process.

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This mean, if some Liberians ever thought that they can hide behind most of those fake names on Facebook and other social media platforms to continue to cause troubles, they should think again and do so very hard. 

The measure is intended to identify individuals who hide behind fake names and accounts to spread hate messages and threats on social media as it poses threats to global security.

A security expert, who asked not to be named, disclosed to FrontPageAfrica some of the “common things” people do on social media for which they might be denied entry into US.

“For example, you submit your travelling documents, including your passport and your name on it is ‘John Brown’ or ‘Annie Paul’ but on your Facebook account, you have something totally different like ‘ThisIsMarySonJohnGodlove’ or ‘GodlovesAnnieSoMuch Paul.’” This security expert, who is not associated with US State Department, urged Liberian social media users to begin to be responsible users of the various platforms on the Internet. 

The US State Department’s regulations say people will have to submit social media names and five years’ worth of email addresses and phone numbers.

When this particular measure was proposed last year, authorities estimated the proposal would affect at least 14.7 million people annually.

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