Abuja, March 3, 2022 – Liberian authorities should hold politician Nelson Korquoi accountable for his recent attack on journalist Franklin Doloquee, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On February 25, Korquoi, the superintendent of the northern Nimba county, grabbed Doloquee by the neck and slapped him across the head during a live broadcast the journalist was hosting for the privately owned newspaper Front Page Africa, according to Doloquee, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, and a report by his employer.
After hitting him, Korquoi seized two of Doloquee’s phones and demanded that the journalist enter his vehicle, but Doloquee refused and left the scene, he said. Doloquee told CPJ that he had an ache in his jaw from the attack and had received pain medication at a local hospital.
CPJ called and texted Korquoi for comment but did not receive any replies.
“Liberian authorities should hold politician Nelson Korquoi accountable for his blatant attack on journalist Franklin Doloquee,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Impunity for attacks on journalists and the seizure of their devices suggests a disregard for press freedom and journalists’ safety that must be reversed.”
The incident occurred after Doloquee approached Korquoi for comment while doing a live broadcast on Facebook as part of Front Page Africa’s coverage of hygiene conditions in the Nimba town of Ganta, as seen in that broadcast.
In that video, Doloquee can be heard introducing himself as a journalist, and Korquoi is seen approaching the camera and initiating a scuffle; the video cuts out for several minutes, but the phone continued broadcasting audio and briefly captured a few seconds of video within Korquoi’s vehicle.
Doloquee filed a complaint at the regional police station in Ganta shortly after the attack, he told CPJ. He said that police followed up with Korquoi that day and returned one of his phones, but told him that he must commit to not pressing charges over the attack before Korquoi would surrender the other phone.
In a phone interview, Ganta Police Commander Arthie Dennis denied that Korquoi had withheld the second phone in exchange for not pressing charges. He said Korquoi only took one phone from the journalist, and that Doloquee had signed a commitment not to press charges in exchange for that phone being returned.
Doloquee disputed that characterization of the events, and stood by the initial description he gave to CPJ.