Liberia: Press Union Slams Freedom FM, Owned by Deputy NSA Boss After Attacks on Weah’s VP

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NSA-OWNED STATION UNDER FIRE: “You cannot exclude or excuse the Deputy NSA Director for Operations from anything that is happening at Freedom FM because he is the owner. You cannot be Deputy Director of the NSA for Operations and people are broadcasting unethically at your station. Their broadcast policy is very appalling. The owner, management, and staff of the institution must redirect their broadcast policy”.
– Mr. Charles Cuffy, President, Press Union of Liberia

Monrovia – A Lead Talk show Host on Freedom FM 87.9, a radio station owned by the Deputy Director for Operations of the National Security Agency (NSA), Sam Saryon, has launched a series of stinging verbal attacks on Liberia’s Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor.


Speaking on the Thursday, January 23 edition of `the show named and styled ‘Freedom Morning Rise,’ Sekou Sheriff accused VP Taylor of allegedly undermining the government of President George Manneh Weah.
According to him, the Liberian Vice President is a “self-seeking and wicked individual” that continues to allegedly sponsor series of protests planned by the Council of Patriots (COP) to “undemocratically undermine and remove a sitting government”.

He claimed that VP Taylor is also in an extra-marital affair with a “boyfriend” who she allegedly gave a vehicle belonging to the government.
Sheriff, however, failed to state the name of a particular individual that the Liberian Vice President is in a loving affair with.

“Jewel Howard Taylor is a hypocrite, wicked and selfish woman. Because she didn’t get her funny looking Ben Sanvee who is a bisexual; or because her son is not working in government, she gets problem with it; because Menipakei Dumoe is not working in government, she gets problem with it. She took money and gave it to Menikpakei to go and have an interview on BBC against the government she works in. Where the proof that Jewel Howard says that, the government is not paying her? This woman wants to undermine the system. All the time people talking about protests-the Vice President cannot condemn but she is there supporting. What such of wicked, selfish, and ungrateful woman she is?”

Sekou further alleged that Vice President Taylor also took several vehicles from Renault garage in the name of the government, but refused to have those vehicles registered in the name of the government.

“She (Jewel Howard Taylor) took the government vehicle and gave it to her boyfriend; and her boyfriend sold the vehicle. She stood in front of investigators from the United States and FBI officials and say her boyfriend will not be taken back to the United States because the crime he committed he committed it in America and so, they should not come in Liberia to arrest him. She took four vehicles from Renault garage and said the government supposed to pay. The government didn’t pay and she wants to make issue out of it.

Citizens never wanted Jewel?

Sheriff claimed that many Liberians have warned against the political marriage between the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah, and the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Vice President Taylor.

He said citizens opposition to the ticket during the 2017 presidential and legislative elections was because of her relationship with ex-Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor.

“There were lot of persons that never wanted Jewel Howard-Taylor to be Vice President. But the same people she’s accusing today where the ones that stood and defended her and said no Jewel Howard Taylor should be the Vice President. They are the same people today Jewel Howard Taylor is saying all kinds of things to them. You see how ungrateful this woman is? People knew that the Weah and Taylor ticket couldn’t come with a good result looking at the individual called Jewel Howard Taylor”.

Sheriff maintained: “People thought about her relationship with the former President-that kind of dictatorship, undermining spirit and the high level of ungratefulness; and they were afraid. There were lot of persons that said no; they knew that this Jewel Howard Taylor couldn’t be a good Vice President; they knew that this Jewel Howard-Taylor is a self-seeking individual”.

Press Union Cautions Freedom FM

The Press Union of Liberia protects and promote the rights of journalists in Liberia.

The union, through its President Charles Coffey, condemned, in the strongest term, the “unprofessional” style of broadcasting and the verbal attacks on Vice President Taylor.

Speaking to FrontPage Africa Thursday, Mr. Coffey, blamed Freedom FM’s owner, who is also the Deputy Director of the NSA, and the station’s management for the unprofessional manner and form in which the entity is entity.

He said it is against professional standards and ethics for talk show hosts or media practitioners to use invective on the radio, particularly against the Vice President of Liberia.

“From the PUL, we describe such broadcast very unprofessional and one that has the propensity to fuel tension in the society. We urge the management of Freedom FM to reconsider its broadcast policies and programs. Such broadcast is a complete violation of professional standards and international norms. Any insult on the Vice President of the republic of Liberia, or any other person; the Press Union condemns that in the strongest term,” he maintained.

“We have received numerous complaints against Freedom FM from members of the public, some government officials and prominent citizens. We cited them for conference and we referred them to the Media Council, but they did not appear. We instituted all of the measures that we thought we could use” he added.

“Of late, the unprofessional broadcast on the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia is below the belt. There are lot of complaints against them that have not been resolved”. Mr. Coffey continued: “You cannot exclude or excuse the Deputy NSA Director for Operations from anything that is happening at Freedom FM because he is the owner. You cannot be Deputy Director of the NSA for Operations and people are broadcasting unethically at your station. Their broadcast policy is very appalling. The owner, management, and staff of the institution must redirect their broadcast policy”.

Mr. Charles Cuffy, President, Press Union of Liberia


Freedom FM87.9 – a station with multiple cases

The PUL President pointed out that numerous complaints have been filed against Freedom FM for its unethical and unprofessional style of broadcasting.

He added that those complaints where filed by some citizens in both the public and private sectors.

Mr. Coffey pointed out that most often the management of Freedom FM has allegedly reneged to attend conferences called by the Union, or submit to the Media Council Committee to look into complaints filed against the station.

He maintained that the persistent refusal of the station’s management to act on some of the concerns raised by the Union shows that both the owner and officials of the management team are in support of the “unethical and unprofessional” style of broadcasting there.

“We have received numerous complaints against Freedom FM from members of the public, some government officials and prominent citizens. We cited them for conference and we referred them to the Media Council, but they did not appear. We instituted all of the measures that we thought we could use” he added.

“Of late, the unprofessional broadcast on the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia is below the belt. There are lot of complaints against them that have not been resolved”.

Pursuing further

Meanwhile, the PUL President has disclosed that it has informed authorities of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism about the consistent abuse of citizens right to tasteful information by Freedom FM, especially its talk show Hosts, Sekou Sheriff and Austin Kawa.
Mr. Coffey said government must take actions against media institutions that continue to ethically transgressed by using invectives on the radio.
“We will continue to pursue this situation to the highest. We have already notified the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism. They have consented to work with us and make sure that when people are broadcasting, they do not violate others rights. The Minister is also concerned and we are going to make sure he addresses the situation,” he stated.

Membership

Mr. Coffey pointed out that though Sekou Sheriff’s membership with the Union has been suspended for time indefinite, the PUL wants actions taken to serve as deterrence to others wanting to engage into unethical broadcasting.

“Our position is to make sure that we protect the media landscape of the country and ensure that no broadcast or publication violates people’s rights. These two talk show hosts, we are not giving them credence. We suspended their membership before because of the same unprofessional broadcast,” he added.

Mr. Coffey furthered: “The issue now is not about Sekou Sheriff or Austin Kawah. The PUL is directing its action to the station management because-the management is aware and in favor of what is happening at the station. You cannot hold a program without the program Director and the Management knowing about that program.”

Call to management

Mr. Coffey, however, called on the Management of Freedom FM to ensure that their employees abide by the ethics of the profession.

According to him, the station’s management must take steps to prevent the abuse of the airwaves by its employees, particularly Sekou Sheriff, whose attitude has cast a dark cloud over the professionalism and broadcast contents at the institution.

“We want the management of freedom FM to make sure that they direct their talk show hosts to refrain from unprofessional act and stop insulting the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia and other Liberians. That is not broadcasting,” he maintained.

“Every media institution that is operating in this country is owned by private or people who are engaged into the business sector. We hold private media institutions’ owners responsible for unethical actions of their employees”.

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