Roots FM May Perpetually Remain Off The Air, As Government Insists

Liberia’s Justice Minister, F. Musa Deam

Roots FM 103.7 may not come on the air to inform its many listeners of happenings as management of the Lonestar Cell MTN insisting that its facilities being used by the station since 2014 for the hosting of its transmitter will no longer be used by the station, allegedly based on pressure from the Liberian Government.

A local daily, the FPA in its Monday’s publication reported that Henry Costa’s Roots FM 102.7 may remain off the air for some time after the management of Lonestar Cell MTN whose facility the station has been using since February 2014 to host its transmitter, informed the station’s management that it could no longer allow them to use its tower to broadcast.

According to Mr. Costa, Lonestar Cell MTN was given an ultimatum by Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean. But Cllr. Dean, responding to a FrontPageAfrica inquiry Monday referred FPA to LoneStar Cell MTN. “Lone Star is a company duly constituted and existing under the laws of Liberia,” the Minister said.

Lonestar Cell MTN, like most cellular companies, hosts radio stations across the country as part of its corporate and social responsibility.

A Dejected Mr. Costa told FrontPageAfrica Monday that he was informed by the Lonestar Cell MTN Management Monday of the decision which came from pressure from the George Weah-led government.

“I operated from that facility for years under former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and she never one day forced Lonestar Cell MTN to do what they have been forced to do today,” Mr. Costa lamented.

The Liberia National Police last Saturday issued a press statement stating that Late Saturday that it had cordon off the transmitter facility to carry out an investigation and declaring the area a crime scene.

Probe will be Impartial, LNP Says

The LNP statement explained “that based on standard investigative procedures, a Lone Star Communication Corporation (Lonestar Cell) transmission site on Johnson Street, in Central Monrovia where an armed robbery incident allegedly occurred has been cordoned off by officers since Friday, February 15, 2019 to prevent the tampering of evidence and in furtherance of the investigation. Let it be made categorically clear that no LNP officer has visited nor been deployed at the premises of Roots FM 102.7 as alleged by its Management.”

The action led to Roots FM going off the air. But the LNP, defending its action, clarified that it had not shut down Roots FM 102.7 FM as insinuated by its management.

The LNP said Lonestar Cell management, the owner of the facility where the armed robbery is alleged to have occurred, has been called in and are assisting the police with the investigation. “The LNP is pursuing additional persons of interest in connection with alleged armed robbery and assures the general public that it will release its investigative report in the soonest possible time. The public can be assured of an impartial investigation.”

According to Mr. Costa, the cellular company was given an ultimatum by Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean. But Cllr. Dean, responding to a FrontPageAfrica inquiry Monday referred FPA to LoneStar Cell MTN. “Lone Star is a company duly constituted and existing under the laws of Liberia.

The Company makes its own decisions,” the minister said.

Late Sunday, the cellular giant issued the following statement offering clarity on the matter.

“Lonestar Cell MTN wishes to clarify recent reports concerning the Liberian National Police investigation of a transmitter allegedly stolen from Roots FM which hosts the Costa Show. The transmitter in question was located on Lonestar Cell MTN’s property and not Roots FM’s property. The Liberian National Police has cordoned off the site during its ongoing investigation with which Lonestar Cell MTN is fully cooperating. Lonestar Cell MTN wants to make it clear that the site in question has never been under the ownership or control of Roots FM and regrets any public misconception that may have been caused by statements of individuals to the contrary.”

‘They Will Never Silence Me’, Costa Says,

Credit: FPA

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About Cholo Brooks 14446 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.