For days now, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has become the subject of criticism from members of his media fraternity following an alleged rowdy response to journalists (Power TV’s Estelle Liberty Kemoh and ELBC Emmanuel Capehart) covering the President’s State of the Nation address for which the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) has called for public reproof.
Nagbe was said to have acted unruly and temperamental at the close of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s final annual address, when he allegedly rained insults at journalists who confronted him. It was said that the angry Minister Nagbe threatened to dismiss a reporter of the Liberia Broadcasting System after the journalist granted an interview to Representative Moses Kollie of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change. It is alleged that Minister Nagbe also accused Power Tv’s Estelle Liberty Kemoh of having a romantic affair with a lawmaker. A statement from the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL) through its Secretary General, Antoinette Y. Sendolo, described the action against the female reporter by the minister as “childish and irresponsible”, demanding a public apology from the minister. Sendolo said the Executive Director of the Infinity Corporation, Aaron Kollie, had already filed an official complaint to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, backed by a video recording in which the Minister was seen raining insults on Mrs. Kemoh in the rotunda of the Capitol Building following President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Annual address on Monday January 23, 2017. “We outrightly denounce the irresponsible and unruly attitude of Mr. Nagbe and demand a prompt public apology to Madam Kemoh and the Female Journalists Association of Liberia because his comments have caused Madam Kemoh marital and professional embarrassment and have brought her to public ridicule,” Sendolo said. “When a senior party and government official reduces a serious female reporter to a ‘’girlfriend’ of a lawmaker, it is intimidating and speaks to the disregard they have for women and point at the methods and strategies used to harass and divert their attention from covering the process,” she said. She mentioned that female Journalists must be treated as professionals and should not be subjected to assaults, insults or any form of intimidations while on their reportorial duties, and any action of such will be condemned and handled through due process. “FeJAL argues that by her assignment at the National Legislature, and having served as President of the Legislative Reporters Association of Liberia (LEGISPOOL), Mrs. Kemoh has professional engagements with almost all legislators, and such allegations against her are rather childish, irresponsible and grossly unacceptable,” she stated. She added: “FeJAL believes Minister Nagbe’s public attack and wild allegation against Mrs. Kemoh in front of other guests and journalists is an affront to not only her and her family, but all female journalists in the country, and deserves a public reprimand”. Several journalists took to the social media condemning the minister’s alleged action and demanded an apology from the Minister. In a Facebook post journalist Musa M. B Kenneh intimated: “insults against professional Journalists and your threat to dismiss a journalist for interviewing an opposition politician is unacceptable and undemocratic. I strongly condemned your actions yesterday and will resist your undemocratic act to the end Mr. Information Minister and Secretary General of the governing Unity Party”. But up to press time, Information minister Nagbe could not be reached to comment on the matter as his LoneStar cell mobile number was perpetually switched off. Meanwhile, an official of the Unity Party, Mo Ali, called on the Capitol Breakfast show Wednesday when the issue was being discussed, that he had spoken with Minister Nagbe about the incident. Ali believes, contrary to public opinion indicating that Minister Nagbe erred in berating the LBS reporter for covering Representative Kollie, the Minister said MICAT had contracted LBS to provide live coverage of the President’s State of the Nation address. As such, Ali said the LBS reporter was under obligation to abide by the terms of the contract by catering to MICAT’s itinerary.