President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to do everything possible to bring stability to the Republic of Liberia.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, President Buhari, while receiving Ms Mawine Diggs, Special Envoy of President George Weah and Liberia’s Acting Foreign Affairs Minister in the State House, said that ensuring stability is a key part of his vision for peace, stability and prosperity in the West African sub-region.
President Buhari commended the Liberian leader for making efforts to maintain good relations with Nigeria.
“I will continue to do everything possible to ensure the stability of Liberia.”
The Special Envoy said Nigeria’s support and assistance over time had “impacted positively” on Liberia and its people, adding that she brought a special message from President Weah to President Buhari following a recent conversation between both leaders.
President Buhari promised to respond positively and promptly to the written message.
Liberian police on Thursday closed a radio station critical of President George Weah, accusing it of inciting violence, and used tear gas to disperse people protesting against the move.
Roots FM, owned by Henry Costa, is one of the leaders of a group that organised a large anti-government street protest on June 17, paralysing several areas of the seaside capital Monrovia.
Costa is a fierce critic of Weah, a former international football star who became president of the country in January last year.
Heavily armed police riot units ringed the radio station building on Thursday morning, making it impossible for workers to move in and out.
They also fired tear gas on the station’s supporters gathered outside.
Costa, who is in the United States from where he usually produces a show for his radio station in Liberia, was defiant.
“It is indeed a very sad day, but I can assure you that we will never be silenced,” Costa told AFP in a telephone interview.
Liberia’s solicitor general said the station was blackmailing people and instigating violence.
“They have begun criminal acts of extortion and blackmail. They use their media to spread inflammatory messages against Liberian citizens, and engage in incitement.
“Beginning today there will be no public demonstration that is not … sanctioned by the government of Liberia,” Cyrinus Cephus told a press conference.
The Press Union of Liberia last week denounced Roots FM and Freedom FM, another radio that is owned by a government official, for “always insulting people on radio.
“That is not journalism. You cannot ask people to give you money or you talk bad about them. That is destroying the image of good journalism in Liberia. I call on the government to take action against Roots FM and Freedom FM,” its president Charles Coffey said.
African football legends such as Liberian President, George Weah, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure will on Saturday, May 18, 2019, be in Lagos State to attend a testimonial match in honour of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
In a statement on Thursday, the Chairman of the State Sports Commission, Kweku Tandoh, said that the event tagged ‘Match for Ambode’, is being organised to honour the outgoing governor for his laudable contribution to sports development since he assumed office in 2015.
He said the organisers, a group of ex-internationals led by Waidi Akanni have promised to put up a memorable event to ensure that the guests have a taste of good hospitality of the government and people of the state.
Tandoh added that the testimonial match would be spiced up with music from A-list artistes including Wizkid, Small Doctor amongst many others.
He also assured that adequate security before, during and after the event which starts by 10 am on Saturday have been firmed up.
Among the stars that have confirmed their participation for the one day event include The President of Liberian and former World Footballer award winner, George Weah, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, Ivorian Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure also from Cote d’Ivoire, Diomansy Kamara, Peterside Idah, Geremi Njitap, Michael Essien, Lomana Lua-Lua, Samuel Eto, Didier Zokora, Kader Keita, Richard Kingston, Christian Karembu, El- Hadji Diouf.
Others include Peter Rufai, Finidi George, Mutiu Adepoju, Samson Siasia, Augustine Eguavoen, Joseph Yobo, Ike Shorunmu, Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Jay- Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amunike, Phillip Shuaibu (Deputy Governor, Edo State), Taribo West, Victor Ezeji, Tijani Babangida, Emma Okocha, Ifeanyi Udeze, Uche Okechukwu and Garba Lawal.
The event is slated to hold on Saturday, May 18, at the Agege Stadium.
Liberian President George Weah has been barred from his office for five days by two black snakes that slithered into the building this week, authorities said Friday.
The foreign ministry where Weah, a former striker with the Paris Saint-German and AC Milan football clubs, has his office must be fumigated to chase out the reptiles, which showed up near the ground-floor elevator on Wednesday.
A ministry statement said that all operations including the issuance of passports and visas were suspended until April 24 owing to the presence of toxic fumes.
“Indeed, the fumigation exercise was triggered by the presence of the snakes,” presidential spokesman Smith Tobay told AFP.
The sole African to win the top Ballon D’Or award, in 1995, Weah became Liberian president in January 2018, succeeding Ellen Johnson, the continent’s first woman head of state.
The impoverished country suffered from a 1989-2003 civil war, and a deadly Ebola epidemic from 2014-2016.
Teenager Tim Weah scored a goal on his first start as a youthful United States team defeated Bolivia 3-0 in a friendly international match on Monday.
Weah, the 18-year-old son of Liberia legend George Weah, tucked away a deft side-footed finish in the 59th minute of a comfortable win for the Americans at Philadelphia’s Talen Energy Stadium.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Weah was one of several new faces in an experimental line-up named by caretaker coach Dave Sarachan.
The New York-born forward had previously played only a few minutes for the US, appearing as a substitute during a friendly win over Paraguay in March.
Sarachan took charge following the departure of Bruce Arena after the United States’ shock failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Weah’s goal came just seven minutes after Europe-based teenage debutant, Josh Sargent, had made it 2-0.
Sargent, who is on the books of Bundesliga side Werder Bremen but who is yet to make his full professional debut at club level, pounced on a blunder from Bolivia goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra to score on 52 minutes.
There appeared to be little danger when Viscarra attempted to chip a pass over Sargent from inside his own area.
The 18-year-old US striker cleverly hooked the ball down before rifling home a low shot.
Earlier, centre-back Walker Zimmerman had headed the US into the lead in the 37th minute, powering in his finish after an outswinging corner from Joe Corona.
With one Liberian newspaper facing a $1.8 million defamation case and a BBC journalist fleeing the country, there has been no honeymoon period for the press under the new government of President George Weah.
Accused of wanting to muzzle the media, the former footballer-turned-politician has attempted to reassure journalists saying they would have a “200 percent freedom of expression and press freedom under my government”.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), however, has expressed concern over the $1.8 million in defamation suits against Front Page Africa, a Liberian newspaper that has carried critical coverage of successive governments.
“Liberia has a troubling history of libel lawsuits where applicants ask for exorbitant damages simply to harass and intimidate journalists, resulting in their imprisonment or the closure of news outlets,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ Africa programme coordinator.
“The government should move swiftly to reform Liberia’s libel laws to guard against their abuse in this way,” Quintal added.
During a visit to Monrovia in March, the UN’s rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye expressed concern over the consequences of large financial penalties in civil libel suits against Liberian journalists and newspapers.
The Ministry of Information has denied any government involvement in the law suits against Front Page Africa which relate to a private dispute following the publication of an advertisement.
But the newspaper’s management and the CPJ blame the situation on its criticism of those in power, highlighting the presence among the complainants of a former member of Weah’s party and the absence of legal action against other media outlets.
Fear of reprisals
In another media drama, the BBC’s correspondent Jonathan Paye-Layleh left the country saying he feared reprisals by supporters of the president after Weah accused him of being against him.
“My fears go beyond the possibility of the president ordering my arrest some day and formally unsealing the indictment that he has already hinted (at) by his verbal attack,” Paye-Layleh said in a message to colleagues.
“I fear more that some of the tens of thousands of Mr President’s supporters… could understand his allegations against me to mean that I am his enemy. And you can imagine what could happen to me in some corners without it necessarily being by his directive,” he added.
Weah’s accusation against the journalist in March followed a visit by UN deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and a question from the journalist on the sensitive subject of the setting up a court for the perpetrators of crimes committed during the 1989-2003 civil war.
A large number of figures directly implicated in the civil war still occupy important positions in the political and economic spheres in the country.
A few days later, Weah said he did not harbour any animosity towards the correspondent and protested his commitment to press freedom.
But at a meeting last week, press bosses said they were “alarmed” by the recent escalation of threats, intimidation and harassment of journalists, according to The Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
“With the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, the Government is the biggest player in the media economy,” the PUL noted, highlighting the difficulties faced by the sector due to a slow economy and the desire of some officials to “strangulate” the media by limiting advertising.
Weah tried again to allay the sector’s fears last week when he met the heads of all the country’s media.
“I want to promise you… 200 percent freedom of expression and press freedom under my government. How can a man like me with soft heart, humble background as well as scores of friends in the country clamp down on free speech. There is no way I can use my position to hunt people for expressing their views to criticise me,” he said.
“While it is true the media and journalists are at liberty to write and criticise in whatever way they see, it is also incumbent of the media to mention the achievements of the government,” he added.
Liberia’s new leader, ex-football player George Weah, on Monday, lent the number from his national team jersey to a military hospital as he unveiled the first major project of his presidency.
The “14 military hospital” will primarily care for Liberian soldiers returning from peacekeeping missions abroad, who are currently obliged to seek treatment in foreign countries due to a lack of specialised facilities.
“The number 14 was the number on my back playing for the Lone Stars (national team). The number is now attached to this important new institution as a symbolic reminder of what Liberians can achieve,” Weah told journalists.
The hospital will be located in the Edward Binyah Kesselly Barracks, close to the capital Monrovia.
Liberia’s police and army were disbanded after back-to-back 1989-2003 civil wars, and security was assured by a UN peacekeeping mission finally due to leave on March 30.
The security forces took back responsibility from the UN last year, but the mission has remained in place to wind up its last projects.
Weah noted he had made promises to the armed forces during his campaign.
“I pledged my commitment… to building an army of professionally trained soldiers who are well paid, educated and cared for medically,” he said.
“I pledged to build a hospital exclusively for youths of the army and other security forces,” he added. “It is the first step toward fulfilling my commitment to building a modern and professional Liberian army.”
The security forces won accolades for their professionalism during last year’s presidential election, their first major test without UN support.
Inaugurated on January 22, Weah meanwhile faces a slew of economic problems including a depreciating currency, mass unemployment and depreciated commodity prices.
Weah, 51, took over from Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who spent 12 years at the helm, steering the West African nation away from the trauma of a civil war.
Beyond seeking stronger trade ties with Nigeria, Weah urged the Super Eagles to get their preparation right for the World Cup and avoid wranglings.
Hailing the Super Eagles as “a model” for African teams to follow, the Liberian President said, “I have played with great Nigerian players, I played against them. Now you have a new generation, the fact that they qualified is a good thing for Nigeria,” he said.
“But I hope they’ll prepare very early because they’re going to represent Africa and we’ll be there to watch them, for them to bring the trophy for the first time if it’s possible.”
Weah, a global sporting superstar in the 1990s who remains Africa’s only Ballon d’Or winner, said recurring stories of unpaid fees and bonuses disrupted players.
It also gave them an excuse when they under-performed.
“So, let the players not have an excuse, support them and bring back the cup,” he added.