Liberia: ‘There Is a War to Silence Media in Liberia, Former Auditor General Morlu Declares

To Politicians and Friends:

Corruption can fight back and does so furiously…says former Nigeria Anti-Corruption Chief. We might not always agree with FrontPageAfrica and Rodney Sieh but the fight against him is to limit exposure of corruption and impunity…Uncle Tom Kamara was always in court on reporting on corruption from official sources. In Liberia, it is a known fact that very few people have been attacked than John Morlu II and the TRC Commissioners (especially Verdier, Washington and Stewart) and no lawsuit against media or civil society from anyone of us.

Our current Liberia government created, nurtured and paid the so-called “Down Trodden Masses” and a slew of bogus civil society and newspapers against me for four years…but as a fervent believer in Jeffersonian principle, I rather be attacked than to go after any media person no matter how false or truth the information is— Jefferson said, in the end the truth will come out and the public will judge you favorably.

Thomas Jefferson was attacked by media but defended the same media, saying he rather have a “media without a government” than a “government without media,” cautioning that although paid media can be used at times to attack public officials, going after media violently or in silence through lawsuits and economic marginalization, the public good will be damaged without a media exposing corruption. “A press that is free to investigate and criticize the government is absolutely essential in a nation that practices self-government and is therefore dependent on an educated and enlightened citizenry. On the other hand, newspapers too often take advantage of their freedom and publish lies and scurrilous gossip that could only deceive and mislead the people. Jefferson himself suffered greatly under the latter kind of press during his presidency. But he was a great believer in the ultimate triumph of truth in the free marketplace of ideas, and looked to that for his final vindication,” says

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57

There is a war to silence media in Liberia by these frivolous lawsuits, started by president Sirleaf when she threatened to sue Tom Woewiyu in 2006, New Democrat in 2008 for reporting on Knuckles gate II (email leaks) and some paper called New Broom. The “fish rots from the head,” as we say in Liberia. In corporate governance, we say the “tone at the top.” This is why in USA and the world over, corporate governance principles place a lot of emphasis on the moral, civil and legal actions on the CEO, as the CEO is the embodiment of the “corporate culture” of the company, like the President is the “embodiment of the culture of a country.”

If people perceive the CEO or President to be engaged in corruption–“establishing, directing, nurturing, aiding, abetting, and condoning” corruption and impunity, the whole nation is likely to be corrupt and according to the World Bank, “systemic corruption” means the president and the first family are involved. That is what World Bank says…let someone challenge this world bank definition of corruption. Anyone who does not conform to the corruption, you are sidelined, marginalized politically and economically, harassed, intimidated or in the worst case, eliminated.

There is no tolerance in Liberia, today…but for UNMIL and Int’l community, media houses could have burned down today giving the level of intolerance on the part of current state actors…sad commentary. I am so sad to see Liberia, again, failing and escalating the bad things of yesterday…BAD LEADERSHIP…..perhaps? Tom Kamara fought a good fight against corruption and impunity…at some point he could not even get a lawyer willing to take his case to Court…I know…

We can all sit by and allow FPA to be closed down…but in the end, Liberia will loose as others in the media will be scared to write about corruption and impunity. I too have taken a lot of beating from FPA…go back to 2011 and 2007 etc. But I rather see a flourishing FPA than a closed down FPA, because of some public official using stolen public funds to sue FPA.

Our generation must move beyond politics in favor of good, tried and tested leadership…I write from my own free will without any remorse as I depend on no government to live…I do not have any government, as government can be used to increase or decrease happiness, except for Liberia, it has always been used to undermine “freedom, opportunity, rule of law and the pursuit of happiness,” as corruption undermines everything and everyone. Instead of ever joining a corrupt system, I said then and now, “take your darn job” and I walked away. Still living and eating and son in college…we all going to die any way but it is stated in the Bible, do not mess with “taxpayers money.”

I am 100% sure this will be sent to madam but I can care less and less…no democracy can be build or sustain on CORRUPTION…no capitalistic society is possible in an environment of hyper corruption as corruption does not only diminish public confidence in government but undermines the three pillars of democracy: Transparency, Accountability and the Rule of Law…in a corrupt environment the “highest bidder syndrome” is the NORMAL, with no room to maintain the “Sanctity of Contracts.”

For 166 years, “they say” “they” cannot fight corruption because the “jury system is corrupt” but you see anyone trying to fix it? In business school, we say if you have a problem, you should fix it and not whine, blame and complain about it. It will take me 3 months to fix the darn jury system in Liberia, not 166 years. Did anyone see me sitting around digging in my nose and complaining about lack of capacity at the GAC? I just fixed it and conducted the HIPC audits…I would have sat around and say “capacity, capacity and capacity” constraint…that would not have gotten Liberia HIPC…as the audits were the trigger that was not negotiable…Liberian officials—past and present—can give you 100 reasons why they cannot perform…all bogus excuses…

The same government officials will go oversee and cry about capacity and how Liberia is a Fragile Country but the same official will look you in the eye and say “we will be middle income by 2030,” and in 10 years they will graduate from donor dependency when 94% of education, infrastructure and health care are still donor dependent.

A reasonable person will ask, so at what point we will graduate from the (1) “Fragile University” and entered the (2) New Normal University before we enter the (3) “Normal University” and before we get into the (4) “Middle Income University.” How long will it take to graduate from each of these universities.

What kind of a country and people like to call themselves “fragile.” Is like someone keep telling you “I am not normal so I need welfare,” but the same person tell you in a week I will be a millionaire.

Let me get back to work and leave these Liberian issues for now…

John S. Morlu,

Former Auditor General, RL

NOTE: This letter was also submitted to Mr. George Weah, political leader of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change, his party chair, George Solo and the chair of the Liberty Party Mr. Fonati Koffa.