By: Mathew Turry
MONROVIA – A 27 million United States dollars damage suit awaits President George Weah for the allegations the President made against former Information Minister Reginald B. Goodridge, Sr. in the presence of the President’s bodyguards and other dignitaries including First Lady Clair Weah, which Goodridge described as false.
Disclosing this at a press conference yesterday, Mr. Goodridge alleged President Weah approached him on the sideline of the recently signed Farmington River Declaration and called his attention, “Goodridge, are you enjoying democracy in Liberia,” pointing out that he [Goodridge] was surprised by the question and lost for words.
“I moved away from the president. He approached me again, and repeated the question several times, “Goodridge, I say, ehn you enjoying democracy in Liberia?” Before I could find an answer, he said to me, “Look at you. You are a rogue. You stole my car and burned down my house.” I responded to the President that what he had said was a lie, and there was an intense exchange of words between us,” Mr. Goodridge alleged.
The former True Whig Party stalwart who then transited into the National Patriotic Party during the regime of imprisoned President Charles Ghankay Taylor further noted that the President made these false allegations in an angry tone surrounded by his bodyguards, in the presence of the President’s wife, Mrs. Clar Weah, Hon. Lusinee F. Kamara, Political Leader of the All Liberia Coalition Party, (ALCOP), and Rev. David Kemue, Political Leader of the Democratic People’s Party of Liberia (DPPL), and others who I cannot easily identify”.
Goodridge told journalists that in order to deter President Weah and his surrogates from continuing the alleged lie told against him, “I am today informing the Liberian people that I will file a lawsuit in the courts of Liberia against Mr. Weah for Libel, and Defamation of character; and I will be seeking a remedy of $27 million United States Dollars in damages.”
Goodridge, an opposition politician and Standard Bearer of the Rainbow Alliance (RA), said he is aware that Mr. Weah is immune from certain judicial processes from the lower courts, due to executive privileges as President of Liberia. But we will file this case, keep it on the record and patiently wait until Mr. Weah leaves office, which we expect will be sooner than later.
“Make no mistake, we will not hesitate to bring legal charges and seek damages for $27 million United States Dollars, against any of Mr. Weah’s associates, any member of his family, and any member of the CDC who repeats the false allegations and blatant lies that Mr. Weah has leveled against me, whether in the media, in person or on any of the social media. Let it be known that you have sufficient warning,” he emphasized.
Goodridge maintained that he is filing a formal complaint of Mr. Weah’s actions with the Ministry of Justice and the National Elections Commission. His complaint was also directed to the United Nations Special Representative in Liberia, the ECOWAS Commission, and the Embassy of the United States of America, among others.
“In the two days since this verbal assault against me by the President of Liberia, I have made an oral representation of the incident to a number of individuals in integrity institutions, close associates of the president and his inner circle and members of the National Executive Committee of the Rainbow Alliance.
The general response, Mr. Goodridge pointed out, has been one of shock, dismay and alarm. “Many are questioning the motive of the president, especially moments after he affixed his signature to the Farmington River Declaration which states among other issues on page 3, count 6 and 8, under the heading, Campaign Management forbids making or causing to make any public statements, pronouncements, declarations or speeches, or use of language, online or offline, that have the propensity to incite any form of violence or intimidation and human rights abuses before, during and after elections…” as contained in Count 6 of the Declaration.
“I have made this statement today knowing fully well that we are dealing with a government that has no conscience, a government that does not care for human rights, a government that does not care for the lives of its citizens, and a government that does not care for the livelihood of the children of this country. We are fully aware that this government is insensitive to the mysterious and extra-judicial killings of auditors, security personnel and other peaceful Liberians,” Mr. Goodridge exclaimed.
Goodridge, in an obvious retaliatory statement said, “I stand with all the bereaved families of this nation who have lost their loved ones who tried to provide sacrificial services to our great country and at the same time pursue life, liberty and happiness. I realize that my life is at risk for taking this bold stand against an incompetent leadership that thrives on lies, intimidation and violence to maintain power and continue to plunder our economy at all cost.”
Concluding, he said many of his colleagues have advised him to ‘just leave this thing; just remain silent,’ that ‘one cent can’t make noise.”
Goodridge said his friends opined that he can’t sue the President, that he will be fighting a losing battle when he sued the President, adding that he say thank you for your kind advice; but wanted to know what advice do they have for Mr. Weah who was the first to attack me, and continues to spoil our country every day?
“We have allowed a lot of things to just be so, let us leave it, so much so that our nation is sinking to the lowest rank among the comity of nations. Our nation is dying slowly, our people are dying slowly. Therefore, I, Reginald B. Goodridge, Sr., Standard Bearer of the Rainbow Alliance, after seeking the guidance of God Almighty, cannot, and will never just let it be so” he remarked.
He vowed to continue to fight to keep the powerful people accountable for their actions, noting that it is to let them know that every Liberian is not a fool, that every Liberian is not afraid to take a stand for the future of our beautiful nation.
“Let this day be put in the record. My statement today is in response to the President of Liberia, Mr. George Manneh Weah, who, out of the clear blue skies, decided to walk over to me aggressively, and pick a fuss with me in public. To be silent about this assault on my person and the name of my family is not my portion. To be silent about the possible threat to my life is not negotiable,” he said.
He saluted a few of his friends and colleagues, especially the brave women of the Alliance who are standing with him, and who encouraged him to go public with this matter, to defend his integrity, and to defend Mama Liberia.
When Contacted, the Press Secretary to the President of Liberia, Isaac Solo Kegbeh said some of the assertions alluded to by Goodridge are true. Kegbeh said “Everything the President said is true. Goodridge stole the President’s Car and returned it later on. Don’t you see him using the car as “Media one? Was it his own car? Mr. Kegbeh asked. He said that Goodridge was one of those who burned the President’s house on 9th street in Sinkor.”
The Press Secretary then explained that the President Message to Goodridge is that there is democracy in Liberia now, that there is free speech in Liberia unlike when Goodridge’s government of former President Taylor.