Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thinking Through The Time (Part I)

…Rape Becomes Hate Weapon; Media Lost Watchdog Role!
…Justice Ashamed of Truth; Unity Evaporates

By Bill K. Jarkloh or (
Email: or

Advocacy today is gender-based and rape is the pivot. Everyone, including myself as media personnel and a good citizen, is fighting against rape. But rape has become a hate weapon used unscrupulously actualize resentment, I mean hatred. Just as a true victim must be given justice, so the rights of the accused be protected and respected. However, the crime instead is seemed to be an instrument of entanglement on account of hatred, thus destroying communal unity and reconciliation and betraying justice. Worst about rape nowadays is the betrayal of justice against the accused, who seems to have no right. Against him all the women groups, without authenticating the truth of the matter scrupulously, go shouting “he is a rapist! He is a rapist.” The worst of the situation is the media too have lost its watchdog role; it wouldn’t verify the truth of the allegation, but go about reporting unbalanced stories against the accused perhaps out of sympathy, for pecuniary gains or because of hatred. I am a victim; and this article, “THINKING THROUGH THE TIMES” is the first in a series of personal reflection and therefore seeks to establish how even journalists who suppose to bridge the gap between insensitive advocacy and justice for the accused join the fray of character assassination thereby betraying the watchdog role the ought to play.

Since 1985 when I started active journalism, never have I witnessed division in the media than now. My experience with post conflict media has taught such a bitter lesson of envy and pettiness amongst journalists who are supposed to be the mentor for peace building, reconciliation and unity in the society. For this reason, there are victims of circumstances in the wake of this new trend of advocacy for societal decency, especially in the situation whereby those who do not have the means are further betrayed on the platform justice.

In the very first place, envy and hatred has permeated the journalism profession. Media solidarity which was the hallmark of journalism in the country up to the 1980s has found its way out of the media terrain. So how can divisive media protect and impact society?
In the 1980s when big brothers and professional daddies like Lamini Waritay, Stockton Peabody, Edward ‘Okeke’ Davies, Rufus Darpoh and Bill Frank amongst others were at the frontal of Liberian journalism, media solidarity was at its peak. There wasn’t a time practitioners will expose each other to risk, neither was there a time they were not heard when they expressed public opinion or circulated a press release. Their thoughts were not downplayed and they were not selective amongst themselves when it came to who should be heard or who shouldn’t. From what I noticed at the time, solidarity amongst media personnel was such that they were each other’s keeper in time of tribulation. In fact, it should safely be said that the fruit of this level of solidarity culminated to what we call the Press Union of Liberia today.

Unlike those days, media men are envious and seek to destroy one another today for material wealth or achievements made. They plot against each other and pull down one another for selfish reasons. Ego – “if it cannot be me, it will not be him” is the basis of the practice of the act. This division makes its way into the ranks and files of even the umbrella organization, the union. Not only the PUL that this divisiveness penetrates, personnel and institutions are tearing one another down. This is my experience indeed of today’s journalism. This reflection clogged my thought after a colleague gave me lift from 15th Street to the Main Campus of the University of Liberia on Capitol Hill. This colleague lamented similar observation of this crab syndrome amongst journalists that have the propensity to betray the public trust. He told of his ordeal when he was accused to have impersonated as US Embassy personnel. His accuser(s), he said, alleged that he extorted huge sums of USD from one who was seeking a US visa. This brother said without hearing his side of the story, his colleagues at a local daily demonized him; he named HERITAGE which he said had run an unbalance story that negatively projected him to the public as a criminal.

This ordeal of the journalist took me back to reflect on mine when I was innocently accused by one who called himself a journalist. Sorbor George, a Bassa lady who had abandoned her eight-year daughter to the street, manipulated rape/sodomy charges against me. But the story is that this kid was found and brought to my fiancée for rehabilitation and with my support and help the kid was dressed and forwarded to the Police where she was sent to the Benson Hospital and the Safe-Home while investigation into her raping was underway.

Although the kid told police that she was raped by one Lincoln in a video club, this so-called journalist manipulated out of envy to incriminate me, and all I saw next was heavy presence off police and court officers, including the Chief Justice’s driver at my apartment on that fateful morning of May 13, 2008 when I was preparing for work. What was tagged “Criminal Coercion Suit” turned out to be “Rape/Sodomy” charges against me while my fiancé was charged with “Kidnapping” the very kid. At the court where I was taken to, I saw the Chief Justice descending from his throne down to the Monrovia City Court where he instruct the court to issue a Writ of Arrest on charges of Rape/sodomy against me in the absence of police investigative report. But thanks be to the God of Justice that He had arisen to my situation with the buried truth and I was vindicated for lack of evidence after my three weeks three days of detention at the Monrovia central Prison.

But why do I choose to reflect now? Well the year is ending, and the way to appreciate God is to openly testify of his goodness towards me. It was due to his loving kindness that I narrowly escaped life imprisonment, after the kid –Little Love Samuels – was persuaded even by judges and justices to name me the rapist that assaulted her. This was a violation of my rights and a gross disrespect to the rule of law and my innocence. Anyway, what every Liberian and even the international community desire of this society is rule of law and free press which are the catalysts for this emerging democracy. As it was in the case of my professional colleague mentioned earlier, the very newspaper he mentioned – the HERITAGE and the FRONTPAGEAFRICA which I wrote for, became the frontier for the assassination of my character. These media outlets joined conspirators. In the case of the HERITAG, it struggled to photograph and publish me handcuffed without trying to know the chemistry of the case. Apparently, they were contacted and maybe enticed to destroy this journalists who has been trying to live to appreciable standard of contemporary life.

It was surprising to me. Like the Liberian media of old, professional colleague wouldn’t write an empty story without further investigation. What annoyed me most when I was in prison was when they mentioned that my former wife and I divorced because of rape. What evidence have they? Did they care to know my side? In fact were there any quarrels between Munah and I concerning rape? NO! What the HERITAG and the FrontPageAfrica showed me was rather irresponsible journalism. They did not make effort to get my side until when I legally battle to disentangle myself by the grace of God. Even at that, the two institutions were dodging my side of the story when I contacted them after I was out from detention.

Good and unbias journalists would go to find the lawyer of an accused party; especially at a time the crime brought against was unbailable and felonious with a life-time penalty. Instead of finding my family and/or my lawyer, the HERITAGE and the FrontPageAfrica went ahead to publish my image with a story indicting me as a rapist when I was innocent. It took the TRUTH FM, my friend and former boss Philip Wesseh, my friend Josephus Moses Gray along with Geevon Smith of the Star Radio, Gibson Jerue of the amongst others to clear my image without any insinuation of guilt.

This kind of journalism is an outgrowth of pettiness. This kind of media coverage implants acrimony in the country amongst the people and at the same time destroys the essence of media participation in building democracy. Today, I am following stories by these media reporting allegations of corruption, projecting the reputation of some good negatively. I keep wondering whether it is not the same kind of way the dragged my character into the muddy water of rape. I wonder whether they are not out to destroy others just as they wanted to destroy me.

If I may draw an analogy, just as the government is fighting against corruption and find corrupt act grievously punishable, so is rape a heinous offence punishable by life imprisonment. My experience now is that corruption and rape are tools used by resentful people to make scornful those who are their targets. As the result, corruption stories and those of rape in those outlets should be carefully considered, lest before a wrong impression is formed out of innocent character in the name of combating these menaces.

I relate to you a story. An old man thrown into the dungeon of the Monrovia Central Prison for almost a year now without trial narrated to me his ordeal. He told me that a landlady who wanted him to leave a room that he renovated for another tenant set him up and lied on him that he raped her daughter. He was taken to the police and published in the media, but every attempt by this poor man to put the record right was fouled. Oldman Kamara, if I may recall his name, looking very poor and indigent was t was sent to court. He was not judged but sent to the prison from where he hasn’t one day called to court for hearing of charges brought against him. He is a victim of rape allegation and because he does not have the means, he accepted his slow death in the jail. He is one of several persons sent to jail for alleged rape, published without his side in the media and have not been tried.

These little things matter. They matter because they destroy the good intention of building “a decent and free society.” To say the least, if journalists who should go beyond mere allegations of crimes and should be in the vanguard of equity and justice are going about aiding accusers to mete injustice to others because of either hatred or pecuniary gains, what better society are we Liberians building? Is it one of acrimony, hatred, disunity and division? What Press Union do we have? Is one of pettiness, envy, division and unprofessionally bias? What justice system are we nurturing? Is it one where the dollar speaks, where association and affiliation with bureaucrats, judges and justices determine guilt for the accused? How do we reconcile as a people in the midst of acrimonies, who know you, envy and hatred? Surely I am thinking about these and please let us think through the times the more than 14 years of war and hatred that have afflicted this country, so that we as a people and/or as professional journalists find our way out of the debris.

Thinking Through The Time (Part II)
…The Interference with Justice Is Troubling

By Bill K. Jarkloh or (
Email: or

Advocacy today, as was stated in the first article of this series, is gender-based and rape is the pivot. Everyone, including myself as media personnel and a good citizen, is fighting against rape. But rape has become a hate weapon used unscrupulous to express ire against and make scornful the hated ones. In truth the trend of advocacy against has encourage evil minded people to scorn others.

But rationally, it is indisputable that the very justice an alleged victim seeks is the same fairness that the accused desires; this is to say that just as the “victim” need justice, so the rights of accused must be protected and respected in finding the merits of demerits of rape allegations. However, the crime instead is seemed to be an instrument of entanglement for others on account of hatred, thus destroying communal unity and reconciliation and betraying justice.

As a matter of fact, when bureaucrats or officials begin to influence guilt, not only by their tacit manipulation of justice, but by inciting of crowds massive presence against the accused rapist in courts or investigative forums, then the crime has indeed become an instrument used for vendetta and therefore one most often leveled against people by their opponents to settle scores at the platform of personal differences; yes indeed, I am a victim.

Typical of this kind of interference with justice against alleged rapists is the one witnessed at the Temple of Justice on November 11, 2008, when Gender & Development Minister Varbah Gayflor led throngs of advocates to court to input guilt on a 39-year-old school teacher accused of raping a two-year old child. While I wouldn’t like my two-year-old daughter raped by a heartless man of demonic character regardless of age group, it must be said that the presence of officials of government such as the Minister of Gender, Varbah Gayflor, leading group of women protesters, not outside the court, but inside the hearing hall amounts to executive interference with court cases. Such is highly illegal and unconstitutional, for the law and Constitution are harmonized on the maxim, “The accused is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”

If the above is right, than what was the Gender Minister doing at the hearing of Nathaniel Wilson with crowds of anti-rape protesters? Did she go there to influence the Court, to input guilt on the classroom teacher who should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty by state and complainants? Does that mean that Minister Gayflor did not trust the prosecutors or she simply went there to ensure the other way around the law - that Mr. Wilson was presumed guilty until the can prove himself innocent? Anyway, Minister Gayflor undoubtedly knows that defendant Nathaniel Gibson was in the custody of the court and that there were prosecutors assigned to find evidence against the accused for trial when he led the women into the courtroom – to prove what? And certainly the Minister should have elementarily known that her action was sub-judicé and therefore was prejudicing the legal interest of the accused. What a mockery of justice? This is a clear indication that there is no fair trial as long as one is taken to court on account of rape.

This is evident by Gayflor’s presence at the court. It should sound a warning to those who will innocently be accused of rape that their family people should massively mobilized too to counter by equal protestation the absurdity taking throng of women to court to input guilt on an accused rapist when the accused should be tried under an atmospheres of impartiality and without any form of influences acting to jeopardize his legal interest. This kind of interference amounts to sheer wickedness – an official making effort to imprison another family’s breadwinner. This should not be the way to build a new decent Liberia where justice and equity should guide the emerging democracy, the Liberia where reconciliation and unity should be the hallmark of community and national interactions.

When I said earlier that I am a victim of the interference of bureaucrats with justice against accused rapists, I meant to refer the deign instruction given by the Chief Justice of Liberia to the Monrovia City Court to issue a Writ of Arrest of against me for an alleged Rape/Sodomy and against my fiancée, Korpo Kortimai for alleged “Kidnapping” of an eight year-old child were saving from parental abandonment and neglect through the Women and Children Unit of the Liberia National police. The story is that little Love Samuels who was most often abandoned according to the police, this time was found in Sonniewein, near the Rally Time Market and was brought to Korpo, the Assistant Coordinator for Women & Children’s Affairs of ZODWOCA, to help the kid get rehabilitated. Korpo had helped in collaboration with this identical police unit to restore other little girls from the street or from further molestation. Love Samuels was already raped by one Lincoln in a Video Club under the cover of darkness as she explained her ordeal.
However without allowing the police to work, Chief Justice Johnny Lewis, on May 13, 2008, descended from his weighty throne purposely to influence my arrest and prosecution at the Monrovia City Court, the very George who had instrumented the scheme against me as a result of pettiness.

I and Korpo were taken to the court on account of a “Criminal Cohesion” suit filed by George, yes, and we filed our bail just to see the very George and group of women trooping in the courtyard a Bassa Woman who said she is the mother of Love Samuels. Before I understand, the Chief Justice walked through the courtroom into the Magistrate’s chamber and commanded court officers to take us into the chamber. He adequately intimidated us with his hoarse voice, interrupting every attempt to genesize the case and explain its nature.

Justice Lewis began to haul into the court chamber the assistant county attorney who, by principle of law prevented of the first “Kidnapping Writ” issued against Korpo until police finding were submitted to court regarding the matter. Thereafter Chief Justice Lewis called in the County Attorney and warned both of them from stopping the Court issuing precepts against Korpo and I because “THE POLICE CAN LIE; THE POLICE LACK CREDIBILITY”. I was obliged to show him the flag. Pointing to flag that was unfolded behind the magistrate’s desk, I reminded this final arbiter “justice” that “You owe the flag allegiance just as I do and you owe me protection – I mean the protection of my rights. Why do you choose to abuse my rights to the state’s protection? Why you Chief Justice should be my accuser and then you will later be my judge when this matter reaches the Supreme Court?” “No I am not accusing you! I am serving you justice!” He replied and walked away with Specific instruction – I expect that Solicitor Sam Solomon be the prosecutor of this matter.” Gush ‘justice’- my fate started.

Oh yes! We are talking by abiding by the rule of law. A Chief Justice came down his throne. He intimidated party litigants and expressed interest in a single prosecutor. He accused a journalist of rape and sodomy and instructed court precepts against the journalist’s family. They where thrown to the dungeon in the absence of police charge sheets or reports and judges started to fetch for evidence as was in the case of Criminal Court “B” Judge Evelyna Quaqua who wanted little Love Samuels to lie on me that I “rape” the little girl, while the Magistrate - on the basis of the Chief Justice’s interference – stayed away from the case for lack of evidence while I was being marched handcuffed from Temple of Justice to the Monrovia Central Prison on an alleged Rape/Sodomy for three weeks- three-days with the blind justice gaining sight to see the influence of a heavy hand - a bureaucrat – the Chief Justice.

What kind of society is this? I remembered my past when the Taylor government, the Doe administration used to do the same. Those days, like it seems to be today, justice used to be on sale, by influence of big-shakes – to refer to bureaucrats. I was whisked into jail at MP Headquarters at the Barclay Training Center for stories written by me. Bureaucrats at the time used the security; but in this dispensation, they themselves come to the fore to baffle justice. Surely, this is what I remember in thinking through the time, WHEN PEOPLE ARE CHANTING RECONCILIATION, UNITY AND RULE OF LAW. This is the very time others are frustrating the purpose this globally acclaimed regime that should stand for justice. Well it doesn’t matter who is involved, justice is and will remain justice. But what’s about the use of the name of officials to abuse the rights of others. This is another issue that will be discussed in Part III of Thinking through the time.

To drop pen for now, the president should begin develop interest in these kinds of things. Justice should not mean when one is accused of rape then he is guilty. Justice should not mean allegation of rape is an end of the case and should make a family’s breadwinner to be cast into dungeon without justice or remorse because rape is heinous. It should rather means that the accused should be given fair and impartial trial as long as his life get on the line by that allegation and that he could be jailed for life if he should be proven guilty. I mean proven guilty – I do not say made guilty. For to make someone guilty is different from proven someone guilty. In the former, even concoction of lies, wicked manipulation and bureaucratic influences could make one guilty while in the latter, the adduction of corroborated evidences beyond all reasonable doubts could prove one guilty. These are two separate scenarios, one of which comes to play when it comes to this rape thing. And the worst is that rape is not bailable – this is why people lie on their targets and incite public sentiments at the peril of another’s reputation.

However, if bureaucrats and advocates will be cautious in following up some of these rape allegations like it was in my case, one will get to know that most of these rape cases are makeup and trap set to invite public hatred against others and accordingly end their hard earn lives and reputation in frustration and agony.

Let is be mindful of the sweeping rape allegations and careful in delving into their merits. Today most of the unheard cases at the magistrate courts are rape, and I discovered that many of the detainees without trial – some overstayed – are victims of rape allegations slapped on them sometimes by landlords or landladies, sometime workmates who want the accused out of their way, community people who are envious because of one’s lifestyle. Surely, I am thinking through the time - I mean the past days of 2008 - with lamentation of injustices meted to me for false allegation of rape, which I think others might have or might be suffering by now.

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