Liberia: Amok!

Local radio station Roots FM

Loyalists To CEO, Henry Costa Clashed With Riot Police

Major businesses and activities on Broad Street and other streets in central Monrovia came to a momentary standstill on Thursday, October 10, 2019 following the closure of Roots FM by the Monrovia City Court.

According to our reporter, the 'notice of closure', was prepared late Wednesday evening with Sheriff directed to execute early Thursday morning October 10, 2019.

The writ of Search Warrant issued by the City Court said "you are hereby commanded to search from 0600hrs to 1800hrs in the premises of the Management of Roots FM (102.7), those acting under its control located in Monrovia."

The writ further said "the purpose of this request is for the discovery and seizure of transmitters, clipboard, and mixers, microphones, headphones, computers, stabilizers, cables Antennas (one bay, four bay), amplifiers, generators, etc, which are believed to be in these premises. The writ of search and seizure warrant is based on the applications and oath of the Ministry of Justice."

"You are hereby commanded that upon the discovery of the items, to bring them before this honorable court in keeping with law and make your official returns endorsed at the back of this writ as to the form and manner of service hereto," the writ of search warrant stated.

Our reporter further said the closure of the station was met with stiff resistance from loyalists of the station's Chief Executive Officer, Henry Pedro Costa, a vocal talkshow host and staunch critic of President George MannehWeah.

The decision by the court resulted into stone throwing on Ashum Street, where Roots FM is located in Monrovia. Costa who has previously announced that he is not a journalist, but a political commentator has repeatedly used his daily talkshow "The Costa Show" on the station to allegedly rain insults at the Liberian leader, rally citizens to successfully stage June 7 protest, the recent standoff between citizens and police officers over the release of Jestina Taylor from the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital, and the impending "President Weah step-down Campaign" launched by him which is slated for December 30, 2019.

All of his actions had since been condemned by the Press Union of Liberia and recommended the closure of the station by the government. Besides the PUL's recommendation, the government has had her own problems with Costa and the Radio station.

Based on the numerous complaints, the Liberian Government filed a writ before the Monrovia City Court for the search and seizure of the station. Due to the stiff resistance from aggrieved Liberians who believed that the radio station is the only critical voice in the country, they trooped in their numbers at the premises of the station on Ashmun Street to prevent its closure.

This led to serious scuffle between riot police officers and those aggrieved Liberians thereby making business owners to close their businesses for fear of them being looted during the process. There were movement ups and downs on broad streets and others as pedestrians and alleged perpetrators spread themselves for fear of arrest.

During the process, those aggrieved Liberians believed that Freedom FM owned and operated by Deputy National Security Agency (NSA) boss, Sam Sayon is equally guilty of insults and unwarranted utterances and was also recommended by the Press Union of Liberia for closure.

With this perception in mind, they trooped at the station to ensure it is close down by the Liberian Government as well, but they were prevented by riot police officers. Due to the resistance, riot police officers also use "tear gas' to disperse the aggrieved Liberians.

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