Some unidentified armed men on January 31, 2019 attacked Roots FM and destroyed equipment in what is widely believed to be an attempt to intimidate the popular and highly critical radio station located in Monrovia.
The attackers numbering three are said to have overpowered security guards at the station by holding them at gunpoint before proceeding to the studios to destroy a number of broadcast equipment. The MFWA’s correspondent in Liberia says the attack is widely believed to have been carried out by supporters of the government in reaction to a recent series of broadcasts by the station that has been highly critical of the government.
During the most recent edition of the station’s flagship breakfast talk-show on January 30, 2019, the programme host, Henry Costa, who is also the owner of the station, discussed a number of alleged scandals that have engulfed the George Weah government. He then vowed to take a months’ break from his broadcasting duties if the country’s opposition parties failed to organise a demonstration to demand answers from government on the issues.
The attack occurred a day after this particular show, leading many to suspect it to be reprisals from elements sympathetic to the government. Henry Costa shares that view, but does not believe that the attack was sanctioned by the government.
“I do not think it is government sanctioned attack; I just believe it is overzealous people in the government that have had too much of me and have decided to destroy my equipment,” the journalist posted on Facebook.
The case has been reported to the Police for investigation.
The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), MFWA’s partner organisation in Liberia, has in a statement condemned the attack as “a calculated ploy to silence critical voices in Liberia” and called on the police to investigate the incident.
The MFWA is deeply concerned about this attack on Roots FM and calls on the authorities in Liberia to protect the premises and personnel of the station while pursuing the perpetrators to bring them to book.