Monrovia City Court Shuts Down Roots FM
-For Illegal Operation
The Monrovia City Court on Thursday September 10, 2019, shut down Roots FM 102.7 in Monrovia for illegally operating in Liberia.
The court’s action followed an official complaint filed by the Ministry of Justice against the management of Roots FM radio station for not adhering to the rules and regulations of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) that calls for radio stations to obtain a valid licence from the regulatory authority before operating in the country.
It can be recalled that the Board of Commissioners of the LTA on October 8,2029 informed the Ministry of Justice that there are individual and entities across Liberia that are operating radio stations without a valid licence from the LTA.
The LTA in its communication stated that such act contravenes section 15 of the Telecommunications Act of 2007 which provides that “No person shall own or operate a telecommunications network to provide a telecommunications service to the public for direct or indirect compensation, except under and in accordance with a licence or an exemption order issued by the LTA.”
Speaking Thursday at the regular press conference of the Ministry of Information in Monrovia, the Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, disclosed that the Ministry of Justice upon receiving the communication from the LTA, petitioned the Monrovia City Court for a search, seizure and arrest warrant for those illegal media institutions.
Cllr. Cephus added that the Monrovia City Court granted the petition of the Ministry of Justice which, according to him, was as a result of the evidences submitted to the Court.
The Solicitor General indicated that the Writ of Search and Seizure was issued by Magistrate Ernest F. Bana of the Monrovia City Court and placed into the hands of the Sheriff for implementation.
The Writ calls for the discovery and seizure of transmitters, keyboards and mixers, microphones, headphones, computers, stabilizers, cables, and antennas that are believed to be in these premises.
“This morning, the Sheriff, accompanied by police officers, went to the premises of FM 102.7 to carry out the court order,” Cllr. Cephus explained.
The Solicitor General maintained that the exercise leading to the closure of Roots FM was in line with Chapter 11 section 11.2 (d) of the Criminal Procedure Law, which states that “Instruments or other articles designed or intended for use, or words are or have been used, as means of committing a criminal offense.”
“We want to be categorical that in a democracy you need legitimate and licensed institutions to operate,” Cllr. Cephus said.
According to the Liberia law enforcement official, FM 102.7, 102.1, 102.5 were engaged in inciting, rioting and violence in addition to operating illegally.
“FM 102.7 specifically was engaged in broadcasting hate messages against people, against individuals and peaceful Liberian citizens and other forms of extortion and blackmail.
“This, in my opinion and the opinion of the Republic of Liberia, is a sheer public nuisance, disorderly conduct, and we could no longer condone a radio station that is not licensed, that is operating illegally to become an enterprise for extortion, and blackmail,” the Solicitor General emphasized.
Other FM frequencies that also risk closure because of illegally operating in the Liberian media space include FM102.5 and FM102.1 and other media institutions that are found in violation of the LTA rules and regulations, like the Roots FM, the Solicitor General said.
He also warned media entities that they will face the full weight of the law as in the case of Roots FM, 102.7, FM 102.5, FM 102.1, if they will allow their institutions to be used to propagate hate messages, spread falsehood, blackmail and extortion.