28 March 2014

Liberia: Released Talk Show Host Opens Up On Ellen

A prominent Liberian Talk Show Host, Mr. Henry Costa, has opened up on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, saying Liberia does not belong to members of her family alone.

Before his imprisonment, Mr. Costa accused President Johnson-Sirleaf of corruption and other bad tenets of democracy in the country. But Madam President is yet to react to the claims made by the talk show host.

Mr. Costa is the former host of the popular "Costa Show" on Hot FM 107.9FM. But the "Costa Show" was sometimes ago taken off the air by the station's management, something that prompted the fearless talk show host to part company with the station.

His fierce stance and boldness on critical national issues has made him to be admired by hundreds of Liberians in and around the capital, Monrovia.

According to Mr. Costa, Liberia belongs to all its citizens, and therefore, the citizens must not be afraid to speak against the President and members of the First Family.

He was speaking to his many supporters early this week in Monrovia after he was released from prison on bail.

It can be recalled that last weekend, the renowned Liberian talk show host was arrested and subsequently jailed at the Monrovia Central Prison on charges of terroristic threat and criminal coercion, according to an issued writ, based on complaints from the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), Mr. Fomba Sirleaf.

Mr. Sirleaf is one of the sons of President Johnson-Sirleaf.

"This country doesn't belong to Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf. It doesn't belong to Robert Sirleaf. It certainly does not belong to Fomba Sirleaf. It belongs to all of us! And we want to say that we are not afraid of them. One day, we will take our country back," he told his supporters amid tremendous applaud from them.

He averred that Liberia consists of more "good people than the bad people" and therefore, the country has an opportunity to change.

He vowed to remain resolute to speak against corruption, cronyism, and bad governance in the Unity Party (UP) led-government of President Johnson-Sirleaf.

"I'm just overwhelmed. What I've seen has given me conviction that majority of the people mean just good for this country. There are lot more good people in this country than there are bad people. And because of this, this country has an opportunity to change. Some of us are nothing, but mere instruments.

An insignificant Henry Costa you put him in jail to do what? You lose so much of your image. It's not about me. It's about the cause. I stand for something. I'm an opposition to corruption. I'm an opposition to cronyism, to bad governance and certainly to the poor justice system we have in our country," Costa mentioned.

The prominent Liberian Talk Show Host added: "We will forever remain resolute and convicted to preach for that. In fact, I'm going to secure an open-endless bond, which means I will have a bond that whenever they take me to court, I will present my bond. And we keep testing the system.

If it was not for you, perhaps, I would have not been standing here. With your presence, you intimidated them by that. We need to do more of that."

Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) President Abdullai Kamara last week condemned the arrest and prosecution of Radio host Henry Costa as an action which effectively undermines the government's commitment to decriminalize speech in Liberia.

The PUL is regarded as the umbrella organization of journalists in the country.

Mr. Kamara said this action takes away from President Sirleaf's signing of the Declaration of the Table Mountain and repeated claims that the government is talking action to repeal all laws which make speech offenses criminal.

"When we met to further our conversations about the way forward in repealing speech laws, the Press Union was determined to laud the commitment of the government to repeal these laws, but as it now stand, we are seriously reconsidering whether that is the way to go," the PUL Chief lamented.

"Agreeing to decriminalize speech offenses mean that high public officials must accept comments, criticism and innuendos that could even be considered derogatory and reckless," Kamara added.

Kamara pointed out: "The truth in this is if we cannot accept such unfettered criticism, then we are not prepared to allow a civil discussion of our stewardship of public resources."

"Furthermore, given Mr. Sirleaf's strategic role, family connection, affluence and influence, it is not reasonable to accept that an utterance by Mr. Costa could really threaten his standing," he averred.

"By all accounts, this will simply translate into misuse of power, and no pretense at going to court will convince an already susceptible public otherwise. The best way out of this situation is for the government to unconditionally drop the charges and allow Mr. Costa to go about his business," he stated.

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