Assailants Attack Roots FM for the Second Time in Ten Days

Gunmen have attacked Roots FM and carried away some broadcast equipment, the second such attack on the Monrovia-based radio station in ten days.

News of the attack, which occurred in the early hours of February 10, 2019, was announced on the station’s Facebook page. Two broadcast transmitters (100 and 500 watts), a 2-kilowatts amplifier, a mixer, and a receiver were taken away, according to the station.

The gunmen reportedly broke the iron door and held the security personnel at gunpoint, before bursting into the studio to cart away the equipment.

On January 31, 2019, some unidentified gunmen attacked the station which has been very critical of the ruling government of late. They cut cables and destroyed some equipment, forcing the station off air for 24 hours.

The station’s owner and host of its critical morning political show, Henry Costa, has recently been waging a relentless anti-corruption campaign. The talk show host published and discussed leaked documents that allegedly showed that the government had given the ground-handling operations of a new terminal at the Roberts International Airport to a Jordanian company and granted a Bulgarian firm a juicy management contract for the port of Buchanan.

Many believe the attack is linked to these critical broadcasts and suspect that it was carried out by thugs sympathetic to the government.

Henry Costa had said in reaction to the first attack that he did not believe that the action was sanctioned by the government. This time, however, he directed his anger at the government.

 “I told you people during the elections, that we were headed for a dictatorship, where they will try to muzzle us and stop us from speaking. …This is exactly what we have – we have a dictatorship on our hands and they will do the best they can to suppress those who criticise them,” he said in Facebook video broadcast from the United States.

An opposition party executive told the local media that the police have no excuse for not acting to protect the station after the first incident was reported to them.

 “The fact that Costa officially reported the previous burglary to the police was sufficient notice to put the security agencies on the alert and leave them with no excuse. There’s no more hidden signal left,” said Kla Williams of the Liberty Party.

The MFWA is deeply concerned about the attacks on Roots FM and call on the Liberian police to take measures to protect the station and its workers from further attacks. We also recommend to the management of the station to take extra measures to ensure the security and protection of their facility and staff.

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