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Mayor and police storm newspaper office; lawmaker seizes journalist's recorder

(CEMESP/IFEX) - On 26 August 2009, acting Monrovia city Mayor Mary Broh, accompanied by a group of police officers, stormed the offices of the "News" newspaper in Monrovia and threatened to drag the newspaper to court.

Broh, who was offered a seat by editor-in-chief Sheriff Adams upon her arrival, refused to sit down, but instead rained insults on the staff, describing the offices of the newspaper as "filthy".

The action of the acting city mayor was in reaction to a news story published in the 25 August edition of the "News", captioned "Mary Broh Collects US$50.00 from vendors . . . Compromises Selling on Street".

In the story, the newspaper reported that it had uncovered a scheme designed by Broh to allow street peddlers the opportunity to keep selling on the principal streets in the city center, to the disadvantage of motorists and pedestrians.

The newspaper investigation further uncovered that street peddlers have been paying a toll of US$50.00 to the Monrovia city corporation under the leadership of Broh since July for selling in the streets.

The newspaper also published a copy of a receipt issued to a vendor by the Monrovia city corporation headed by Broh, indicating a payment of US$50.00 as a permit fee to sell in the streets of Monrovia.

In a separate incident on 27 August, the recording equipment of Star Radio legislative reporter Julius Kanubah was temporarily seized by the presiding officer of the House of Representatives in Liberia.

Montserrado County Representative Dr. Kettehkumuehn Murray, who presided over the day's plenary session of the House of Representatives, confiscated Kanubah's digital audio recorder on the grounds that the journalist had recorded a melee that had ensued in the plenary session of the House during the appearance of the education minister, Dr. Joseph Korto.

The audio recorder was later returned to the reporter by the Sergeant- at-Arms of the House of Representatives, Martin Johnson.

Kanubah told CEMESP that the confusion was prompted by the premature manner in which the education minister was discharged by presiding officer Murray, while most lawmakers had not finished asking their questions.

Minister Korto was summoned to appear before the House of Representatives to respond to complaints by Liberians over the abrupt increase in tuition for both private and public schools in the country.

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