Veteran Liberian journalist and talk show host, Smith Toby of OK FM is claiming that he was chased out of his home last night by men wearing khaki pants.
Reports of the incident which was first shared via Facebook by Mo Ali, the Assistant Secretary General for Press and Public Affairs of the Unity Party but has since been taken down, is still scanty as there have not been reports as of yet of any damage carried out at journalist Toby’s home or anyone at his home being attacked. Ali claimed that he was called by Toby from an unknown location to inform him of the incident, however, many people who commented under the post questioned Ali as to why Toby called him instead of the police. Another stalwart of the Unity Party, Mr. Boakai Jaleiba is claiming via Facebook, that the incident might be related to views expressed by journalists Toby against administrative wrongdoings by Gender Minister Saydee-Piso Tarr. According to reports, Minister Tarr has been hiring new staff, while transferring old ones and has reportedly refused to sign the Ministry’s payroll for July.
Meanwhile, there is a little discrepancy in the reports made by the two Unity Party stalwarts, Mo Ali and Boakai Jaleiba. Originally, Mo Ali reported that he was called by Toby and didn’t mention anything about Toby calling the police. However, Mr. Jaleiba in his own post after Ali’s had been taken down claimed that Toby called the police but his calls went unanswered. He then added that a senior police officer later contacted Toby after seeing the report on Facebook. While we are strongly against attacks directed at journalists, there are still many unanswered questions about this incident. As you can recall, during the 2017 elections, journalist Toby was in the news when it was reported that his home was burned down and the report was heavily linked to the Coalition for Democratic change since in fact, he was criticizing then candidate George Weah. The report about his home been burned down later turned out to be untrue.
Information available to The Liberian Billboard from a source says, journalist Toby claim of an attack may be a retaliatory propaganda against Minister Tarr after he was refused a communications director job at the Gender Ministry. According to the report, Madam Tarr gave Toby his word that she would have appointed him as Director of Communications, thereby silencing Toby from throwing tantrums at government for a long period. However, two weeks ago, Madam Tarr appointed an Eric Pervit as Communications Director at the Ministry which our source claim has irritated Toby and since then, has gone on rants against the Minister. This rant against the Minister as the source further revealed has been initiated in conjunction with Ali and Jaleiba both of the Unity Party to smear the image of Madam Tarr and the government.
In the meantime, the Liberian Billboard is following up with the Liberia National Police on details of their investigation into the incident.