Montserrado County Flag
Journalist Asks Court To Dismiss US$275k Libel Suit Against Him
By Ballah M. Kollie
MONROVIA, September 5 (LINA) – Journalist John H.T. Stewart has requested the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia to deny every count contained in the US$275,000 libel suit filed against him in July by the Chairman of the Elections Commission (NEC), Jerome Korkoya.
Cllr. Korkoya filed “An action of damages for Libel” against Stewart, the New Democrat and Analyst newspapers for writing and publishing “a false and libellous per se statement” about him.
In his recent response, Stewart argued that Korkoya is a public official and that he cannot file an action based on an allegation of defamation merely because the complaint about him is libellous per se.
He called for the entire case to be dismissed because unlike a private person, a public official has the ability to counter any unfavourable statement to which he has right to respond to or clarify immediately after publication.
In the article titled: “Assessing presidential candidate Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s Chances in 2017”, Stewart alleged that the NEC Chairman is “very corrupt,” noting that during the senatorial by-election in December 2014, it was rumored that Kokoya accepted a brand new Ford (SUV) sports utility vehicle from one of the candidates.
He also alleged in the article that “more to that he (Korkoya) was accused of fixing the results in several counties, including Bong, and that he was reportedly seen in Gbarnga with Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, a candidate, on the day of the polls.”
Korkoya, in the complaint filed through his legal counsel Cooper Kruah, said that Stewart wrote quoting an insider at the commission as revealing that he (Korkoya) gave out bribes to the leaderships of some political parties to ensure their acquiescence and silence on crucial matters concerning the commission.
“The integrity of the commission, especially under the corrupt and incompetent leadership of Jerome Korkoya, and the entire 2017 elections results could be compromised also,” Stewart wrote in his article published June 6 in both the Analyst and New Democrat newspapers.
Meanwhile, Stewart and co-defendants, the Analyst and New Democrat newspapers, have been summoned to appear before Civil Law Court Judge Yussuf D. Kaba on September 19.