ALJA Brands Sen. Teahjay’s Libel Lawsuit Against FPA As “Distraction”

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The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says the recent libel suit filed by Sinoe County’s Senator, Milton Teahjay, against the FrontPage Africa (FPA) at the Civil Law Court is a publicity stunt meant to sway public opinion from his exposed shady deals in the Liberian Senate and the government as a whole.

   On July 10, 2020, FrontPage Africa reported that Senator Teahjay was replaced as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies because he allegedly received a US$20,000 bribe from the “disgraced” and rejected chairman-designate of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike. In the wake of the publication, Senator Teahjay, on July 12, 2020, initiated a legal action against the Paper. According to media report, the Sinoe County Senator is seeking US$4.7 million as compensatory damage for willful and malicious falsehood propagated against him by the newspaper.

   In a press release issued July 24, 2020, ALJA urged the Sinoe County lawmaker to immediately withdraw his ill-advised libel suit against FrontPage Africa. The Association said it is preposterous that Senator Teahjay would sue for libel even while admitting to compromising the integrity of the confirmation process.   

   ALJA says the Sinoe County lawmaker’s public admission that as former Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies his office had a tradition, which literally coerced presidential nominees to make pre-confirmation commitments to the hiring of individuals recommended by him at public institutions at which they had been designated is a vindication for the FPA.

   The Association says Senator Teahjay willfully admitted to seeking a quid pro quo from Cllr. Nwabudike that would benefit him personally as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies. ALJA says the Senator’s admission was an inadvertent indictment of himself, members of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies and the Senate’s plenary for engaging in acts that eroded the fundamental intent and purpose of the confirmation hearings.

   ALJA says the Senator’s admission provides the clearest explanation yet why many Presidential nominees, with rare exceptions, are confirmed to positions of trust in government without the due diligence that members of the Senate should attach to the process.

   Meanwhile, the Association says it supports the FPA management and the paper’s editorial staff in their quest to uncover acts of corruption by public officials, including Senator Teahjay. The US-based Liberian journalists organization expressed disappointment that public officers have normalized bribery and interest peddling as a function of their official responsibility.

   At the same time, the Association is calling on the leadership of the Liberian Senate to immediately institute a probe into the Senator’s recent public pronouncement, which impugned the characters of members of the Senate Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies and the entire plenary for engaging in exposed acts of corruption during confirmation hearings.

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