13 February 2013

Liberia: Rep. Smith Faces News Blackout

The Association of Liberia Community Radio (ALICOR) has condemned the flogging of its former President, Hector Mulbah by security men on the alleged orders of Grand Bassa District #4 Representative Gabriel Buchanan Smith.

According to a statement released here, ALICOR said the use of such excessive force on a harmless journalist constitutes an abuse of power and the violation of journalist Hector Mulbah's rights.

ALICOR stated that its member (Hector Mulbah) of Radio Gbehzohn was ordered flogged by Grand Bassa District #4 Representative Gabriel Smith, when the station refused to offer him Free Airtime to announce his candidacy for the vacant seat created as the result of the death of Senator John Whitfield of Grand Bassa County.

The statement signed by Emmanuel Johnson, Secretary General of ALICOR further noted that the action by the Grand Bassa lawmaker to order the flogging of journalist of Radio Gbehzohn due to the station's refusal to grant he (Smith) Free Airtime did not constitute the use of excessive powers as the station was never his property.

The Community Radio umbrella organization in Liberia called on speaker Alex Tyler, members of the Bassa Legislative Caucus and the Press Union of Liberia to intervene in the reported miss-used of Legislative powers by Representative Gabriel Smith on vulnerable community radio broadcasters in Buchanan.

The association strongly expressed the belief that the misuse of authority by Lawmaker Gabriel Smith on sacrificing community radio broadcasters amounted to divesting the right of community radio stations to exercise ownership and control over their institutions without any due process.

In a solidarity mood, ALICOR has called on member stations in Grand Bassa to issue a news block-out on all activities emanating from the office of Representative Gabriel Smith, until he apologizes to victim Hector Mulbah and the Management of Radio Gbehzohn for his uncivilized and brutal approach to community radios in Liberia as a deterrent to other would-be Lawmakers in Liberia.

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