MONROVIA: Liberian journalists and media practitioners have been strongly cautioned against honoring any invitation for a mass meeting under the gavel of the “illegal occupiers” of the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
The caution comes against the backdrop of a leadership void created as a result of the Supreme Court having taken control of the dispute growing out of the PUL November 2022 controversial Congress and subsequent elections.
“Without a legal determination by the Supreme Court, which on May 2, 2023, heard arguments and suspended the PUL case pending a verdict, it is illegal for the expired leadership to call a mass meeting,” Team Kanubah said in a July 11, 2023 press release.
“Further, the December 15, 2022 stay order placed by the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court on all activities of the PUL erstwhile administration of Charles Coffey, Daniel Nyakonah, Musa Kenneh and Akoi Baysah, remains legally in force. The PUL lawyer confirmed the Stay Order in a Bill of Information before the Supreme Court’s Justice in Chambers, dated December 19, 2022.
“Journalists and media practitioners, committed to the rule of law, must not therefore attend what is being referred to as a “Mass Membership Meeting” scheduled for this Wednesday, July 12, 2023,” the release stated, while noting that the citation for “mass meeting” as issued by Mr. Akoi Baysah who still claims to be Assistant Secretary of the PUL, despite the expiry of his three-year mandate since November 2022, is ill-advised.
“The meeting called by Baysah in the name of the PUL leadership is merely at the whims and caprices of Mr. Daniel Nyakonah, one of the architects of the historically unprecedently mid-night elections in the PUL, which was based on a fraudulent Full Membership Register (voter roll).
“Both Baysah and Nyakonah have not demonstrated honesty and they lack the legitimate authority to call a mass meeting of PUL members to discuss the contractual agreement between the PUL and the US Government funded Internews which is implementing the USAID Media Activity in Liberia.
“Nyakonah is on record for referring to the US Government funded Media Activity vis-a-vis Internews as ‘a cartel with dirty money’ – to which Internews wants Julius Kanubah to clean and manage.
“Nyakonah and Baysah, since their ascendancy to the PUL leadership in 2013 and 2019 respectively, have primarily operated the PUL in secrecy – without transparency, accountability, and responsibility.
“Nyakonah and Baysah along with Charles Coffey and Musa Kenneh failed to provide the PUL membership with financial statements and narrative reports in the last six years as required by the PUL Constitution.
“If they were honest, Baysah and Nyakonah could have circulated financial and narrative reports of all programs and projects implemented, for example, in the last three years under their watch. This extends to the status of financial and material donations made by individuals and organizations to the PUL including US$10,000 donated in September 2020 to the PUL by the late political leader of the People’s Liberation Party, Mr. Daniel Cassell; US$10,000 donated in May 2022 to the PUL by the George Weah Government through Deputy Information Minister Jarlawah A. Tonpoe; and the whereabouts of the Daniel Nyakonah Escrow Account for the PUL.
“It must be stated that since 2014 the PUL membership has not been informed, consulted or engaged with respect to various Contractual Agreements – apparently amounting to over a million US dollars between the PUL and Internews through funding from the US Government via USAID and the European Union. The question becomes why now discuss the ongoing contractual agreement signed late 2021?
“We are aware that the USAID through Internews, which is currently implementing the US$11 Million USAID Media Activity for the US Government is at the brink of putting a stop to funding the PUL and its project activities until parties in the ongoing PUL dispute settle the matter within the next few days.
“Rather than calling a bogus mass meeting whose outcome is non-enforceable but with an apparent intent to drag our key international media supporters into a legal entanglement, Baysah and Nyakonah must return to the proper channel and appropriately respond to the proposals advanced by the USAID and our key international media development partner to apparently end the impasse in the PUL – taking into account the pending verdict by the Supreme Court.
“This is a crucial week for the PUL as an institution. We will from time-to-time provide updates on any new developments in the face of tactful interventions by some of our key media development partners.
“Again, journalists and media practitioners must not attend the Baysah–Nyakonah meeting as it is intended to show disrespect to the Supreme Court – because there is an active Stay Order.
“Also, both men and their enablers who want to exclusively control the US Government half a million USD funding to the PUL have a potentially sinister intent regarding the forward direction of what was until now the undisclosed contractual agreement between the PUL and USAID via Internews,” Team Kanubah said, noting that its remains committed to bringing credibility, integrity, and dignity to the PUL and the Journalism, Media and Communication community.