MONROVIA – A Liberian journalist has sounded out an alarm that his life is under threat from a Lebanese national, simply called Ali, owner of the BMC business enterprise for conducting an investigative report on another Lebanese national, called Detratar Babandi for allegedly importing goods in the country and using some fronts at the Freeport of Monrovia and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to under declare the value of the goods.
The journalist, Sekou Sheriff, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Voice of Liberia FM radio station made the allegation yesterday, Thursday, January, 9, 2023 when he called an emergency press conference at his office on the Capitol bye pass to inform the public about the alleged threat on his life.
“We called you people here today for the world to know about threats against us by a foreign national by the name of Ali. He claims to be the owner of BMC right on Capital Bye Pass. We have the threats through audio in our possession, where he directly called and threatened my life.
“And the reason he placed the call is we have been investigating a business in Liberia by the name of Good Luck Hardware Center and the owner of the place is called Detentra Banbandi and usually called him Banbandi”, he said.
He said while the investigation was been conducted, out of the respect for the ethic of journalism that called for balanced reporting, he contacted Banbandi and told him there was a need to get the side of his story with messages sent out to the business man clearly stating that it was alleged that he brought goods in the country and connived with some people at LRA and Freeport of Monrovia to under declare so as to avoid paying the legitimate taxes to the government.
Sheriff said Banbandi responded by asking for a meeting between them but through his lawyer as he does not want for his name to be mentioned in the public under such circumstances. Sheriff said he and his team rejected the offer insisting that he should just provide the response to their inquiry if he actually did the act or not.
Not satisfied with the journalists, he said the Lebanese’ lawyer decided to approach the police to issue threats but they could not bow to the antics from both the lawyer and the police. He said it was at that point that Banbandi sent two persons to negotiate for them to drop the investigation in the name of friendship, an overture which was again rejected.
Sheriff said out of desperation and in search of someone to fight his case, Banbandi prevailed on his friend, Ali, owner of BMC to intervene but instead of it being cordial, Ali came up with direct threat that he was going to deal with him(Sherif) and followed up his action with series of calls as well as boasting that no matter how or where Sherif took his complaint, “the case will not go anywhere”
Sheriff said alarmingly, Ali is the only Lebanese in Liberia who has a gun and moves around with a siren, which according to him, Ali boasts of and that he can do anything to him(Sheriff) and there will be no repercussions.
He said based on that he has formally written to the Inspector General of Police, the Press Union of Liberia, some civil society organizations as well as some foreign missions including the United States Embassy, the European Union, Embassies of Lebanon, Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, among others to alert them of the danger he has been subjected to.
Sheriff said he was not deterred by the threats as he will go ahead to write the LRA officially for him to be invited so as to disclose the dossier he has on the Lebanese about his fraudulent acts against the country and its people.
Attempts to get the side of both Banbandi and Ali proved futile as their phones were switched off but efforts are being exerted to get the two persons speak to the media.