Front page Africa Newspaper temporarily closed down, staff risked to court

The offices of FrontPageAfrica-Liberia’s leading online newspaper were shut down early Monday with staff members arrested and bundled up to the Civil Law Court in Monrovia.
Sheriffs from the Civil law court effected the arrest warrant after a complaint of “character defamation” by one Henry V. L. Morgan.
These court officials are said to have inspected the newspaper offices and the printing press.
Court documents show that the lawsuit include Henry A. K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah of the City of Monrovia, Vs. Henry V. L. Morgan, Edwin A. Morgan and Gbein Morgan of the City of Monrovia, Montserrado County, R.L, as First Defendants and FrontPage Africa Newspaper by and thru its Board of Directors, Managing Editor, News Editor and all those working under their scope of authority; and also of the same address as Second Defendants.
Photos from the Civil Law Court showed several FPA employees sitting on a bench for hours before the conclusion of legal processes which led to their release late Monday.
FrontPageAfrica published a paid-for announcement as advertisement on Friday, March 16, 2018. The announcement which was signed by the ‘administrators of the Lawrence A. Morgan Estate, sought to inform the public that Mr. Kopeyor Adamah Seh, also known as Henry A.K. Morgan and Anthony C. Morgan, and Moses T. Konah are presenting themselves as administrators of the estate of the Late Lawrence A. Morgan, but were not authorized to lease, sell, collect rents or transact any other business on behalf of the estate.
On March 22, 2018, the Law offices of Weah and Associates wrote FrontPage Africa newspaper through the Managing Editor, describing the announcement as defamatory against their cleints, informing the newspaper that those mentioned in the announcement are by ruling of the Supreme Court administrators of the estate. The letter demanded a retraction of the announcement “in the interest of peace and harmony.”
FPA in response to the request published an erratum on March 23, 2018. The erratum was accorded the same prominence as was the previous paid-for announcement.
But, the plaintiffs disregarded the requested retraction and filed the suit, making FPA the second defendant.
The suit is demanding US$500,000 as special damages US$1,000,000 as general damages and US$350,000 as punitive damages.
Managing editor Rodney D. Sieh told CEMESP the shutdown; subsequent arrest and detention of his staff are a “politically motivated witch-hunt”.
FPA early Tuesday, published a lead story title “FPA Under Attack; Attempt to Shut Newspaper Down Fails”,

“In the midst of several verbal attacks on FrontPage Africa and its Managing Editor, Rodney D. Sieh, for its critical stance on the government of Liberia , the offices of FPA was at the verge of closure Monday, following a civil lawsuit for actions of damages of over one million United States Dollars” the paper asserts.

While FPA staffs were still in court on Monday, The Ministry of Information published a circular clarifying that “the closure of FrontPage Africa newspaper and the arrest of some of its staffs were not on the orders of the Government of Liberia”.

The Press Union of Liberia said it is shocked about Monday’s “raid” of the Offices of FrontPage Africa noting; “merits of the civil suit cannot past the minimum reasoning to warrant the sort of power exercised except being accompanied by deep seated prejudice of faceless powers”.
The PUL in a statement asked Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor to mandate an end to deformation suits with attachment because it punishes before listening to the accused.
“Liberia signed the Table Mountain Declaration on 21, July 2012 vowing to repeal criminal defamation or ‘insult’ laws. Almost six years on, journalists are being jailed and persecuted by meanly political leaders of the country using criminal defamation as means of silencing critical voices”, the PUL statement said.