ALJA: Govt Must Grant Roots FM’s Management Unhindered Access to Its Facilities
New Castle, Delaware – The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is calling on the Liberian government to expeditiously conclude its investigation in the alleged armed robbery incident which occurred at the Lone Star Cell transmission site and reportedly involved the transmitter of Roots FM; a station owned and managed by Talk Show Host, Henry Costa.
Nearly four days after reports of the armed robbery, the Liberian National Police on February 15, 2019, barricaded the facilities and in a press release, claimed it was conducting an impartial investigation into the incident. Mr. Costa has since denied those assertions and alleged that the Police action “was a political plan to have Roots FM off the airwaves by senior government officials.” Mr. Costa is an outspoken critic of the Weah government.
The Management of Lone Star Cell, allegedly under pressure from the government, has requested the Talk Show Host to remove his broadcast antenna from its transmission site, effectively ending a reported arrangement which allows ROOTS FM to use the company’s towel to broadcast. Justice Minister Musa Dean has since denied the allegations.
The US based Liberian Journalists Organization, in a press release issued on February 20, 2019, says the government of President George Weah needs to demonstrate its professed commitment to freedom of the Press by granting the staff of ROOTS FM unhindered access to their facilities and ensuring that they are able to resume their broadcast without any form of coercion or intimidation.
Touching on the importance of the media’s role in the country. ALJA stressed that a vibrant and independent media is crucial to the survival to Liberia’s fledgling democracy and warned the government against taking extra judicial actions as a means of silencing individuals and media institutions it considers critical of its performance. The Association called on the government to seek legal redress if it feels aggrieved by the action of any media personnel.
Meanwhile, ALJA is calling on Liberian Journalists and talk show hosts, particularly Mr. Costa, to exercise civility in the conduct of their professional responsibilities. ALJA says Mr. Costa’s sometimes inflammatory and insulting comments about the Presidency can be counterproductive and create an unnecessary hostile environment. The Association says freedom of speech should be exercised with certain ethical responsibilities.
The Association maintained the role of the Liberian media is to foster and consolidate the prevailing peace and stability in the country instead of driving a wedge between the government and the governed through divisive and inflammatory broadcast and publications.