Liberia: Roots FM’s Case Returns to Monrovia City Court under New Magistrate Amid Disappointment from Station Lawyers


Monrovia – The newly appointed Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court, Jomah Jallah, has been mandated to conduct re-argument in the motion filed by the station management of closed Roots FM to return its seized equipment.

This latest mandate received with disappointment from the station’s lawyers was issued by presiding Judge Roosevelt Willie of the Criminal Court “A” Friday, November 15.

It comes after a hearing into a complaint filed by the prosecution rejecting the ruling of outgoing Monrovia City Court Magistrate Ernest Bana to give right to Roots FM Station Manager Fidel Saydee to sue government to return its seized equipment.

Magistrate Bana’s November 4 ruling dismisses prosecution lawyers’ request to the lower court to have the motion denied and dismissed because Fidel Saydee did not have the capacity to sue in the name of the Roots Holding Inc. as though he was a board member.

During the hearing of the complaint against the lower court’s magistrate’s ruling before Judge Willie, Montserrado County Attorney Edwin Martin appealed to the upper court’s Judge to send the case back to the lower court for re-argument because the magistrate in question has been removed from his post as he was no longer a subject of contention.

Cllrs. Tiawan Gongloe and Findley Karngar, representing the closed station, counter-argued that the complaint of the prosecution was a waste of the court’s time as the judge who ruled was no longer in the case and appealed to the upper court judge to ignore the complaint and let the lower court proceed with the merit of the case.

Judge Willie, prior to his ruling after the arguments pros and cons by the parties, stated that the purpose of summary proceeding/complaint against a magistrate is for him/her to come and show cause for his/her ruling but in the instant case the magistrate in question was no longer in his position which make the case a different issue.

“The clerk of this court is ordered to send this case back to the Monrovia City Court for lack of capacity for re-argument as is hereby so ordered,” said Judge Willie but Cllr. Gongloe on behalf of the Roots FM took exception to the Judge’s ruling and promised to take advantage of the law controlling.

This will be the second time for the Monrovia City Court to conduct hearing in the motion filed by the Management of the closed Roots FM to have its equipment seized by the government through the Monrovia City Court, returned.

However, the second hearing of the case will be conducted under a new magistrate, who replaces Magistrate Ernest Bana, who was removed from the Monrovia City Court a day after he ruled and gave right to the Management of Roots FM to sue government but it is not clear whether his removal was based on his ruling in the Roots FM case.

On October 10, 2019 officers from the Monrovia City Court backed by LNP officers based on complaint from the Justice Ministry to the lower court moved into the station Ashmun Street premises of the station and ordered it closed after the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) had complained the station management to the Justice Ministry of alleged tax evasion which the management had denied.

Prior to the closure of the Roots FM the station owned and operated by popular talk show hosts Henry Costa has been very critical of the Coalition for Democratic Change Government led by President George Weah of not doing much to alleviate poverty among averaged Liberians.