Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill has filed an Action of Damages for Slander against Henry Costa and his entire Roots FM, seeking to recover US$500,000 dollars and shut down the radio station.
The Writ of summons, seen by FrontPage Africa, was issued with an attachment to the Ministerial officer on Monday, April 15 by Clerk of the Civil Law Court of Montserrado County, Ellen Hall-Kamara.
The Writ: “You are hereby ordered to summon the within named defendants, the Management of Roots FM 102.7, the Henry Costa show Co-host Fidel Saydee, Henry Pedro Costa, producer and owner of the Henry Costa Show also of the city of Monrovia. The defendant in the above entitled-cause of action, to appear before the Sixth Judicial Circuit Civil law Court for Montserrado County, sitting in its June term, A.D 2019.”
The suit comes barely a month after the government of President George Weah pushed for the decriminalization of speech in the country, through the passage of an Act of Legislation. And has since vaunted about supporting freedom of the press.
The writ, which carries an attachment, commands the Sheriff to notify Mr. Costa that he and his Co-defendants must file a “former appearance and/or answer” to the clerk of court on or before April 25.
In the attachment, Mr. McGill lawyers pray Judge Yusif D. Kaba, who was recently nominated by President George Weah to replace the impeached Kabina Ja’neh, to adjudge Mr. Costa and his co-defendants liable for an amount of US$500,000 in general damages and order shut down of his Roots FM.
McGill complains that The Costa’s show is “a very divisive program that rivals the pre-1994 Radio Rwanda style of broadcasting.”
“It is used as a platform to blackmail and extort, extremely proficient in profanities rather than speaking the truth,” the complaint alleges, adding that the Plaintiff (McGill) has suffered “emotional stress and psychological humiliation from the general public” due to the unwarranted conduct of Mr. Costa’s talk show.
The lawsuit comes on the back foot of a letter by Mr. Costa, which was sent to the US Embassy near Monrovia on April 15, seeking the US government’s attention into alleged interference of its broadcast.
Mr. Costa had earlier alleged on his show that the government was subtly disrupting his broadcast because of his critical views about President Weah and the government.
Writes Mr. Henry Costa: “On Friday last, while we were on the Costa Show at about 9:10 am, many of our listeners began to complain that they were suddenly hearing old clips from past editions, instead of our live broadcast on our frequency, Roots FM 102.7.”
Mr. Costa said they are informing the US government through its embassy for prompt intervention “so that this undemocratic practice of stifling critics of government may stop”.
Roots FM has faced several attacks in the last couple of months with the last leading to the destruction of its radio equipment forcing the station to remain off the air for a while.