LIBERIA: ‘Gov’t Does Not Intend To Shut Down Any Critical Media Entity’ Min. Nagbe
The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, has refuted allegations emanating from the public that the Government of Liberia is doing everything possible to silence critical voices in the media.
The comments from the Information Minister follow recent allegations of vandalism at Roots FM, a local media entity owned by a talk show host.
Some members of the opposition community have also since accused the government of being the mastermind behind the alleged sabotage at the local FM radio, an allegation the government has since refuted on grounds that it has always created an ambiance that promotes freedom of speech and of the press.
The recent ratification of the K. Abdullai Kamara Act of Press Freedom which decriminalizes media and speech offenses has since served as a point of reference upon which the Government of Liberia has built a defense against those who assume that it is muzzling free speech or the press.
With ongoing police investigation in what seems to be a professed pillage at Roots FM, Nagbe, who spoke on a local radio talk show in Monrovia on Monday, reaffirmed that the government of Liberia is committed to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, noting that this government has no intention of shutting down any critical voice in the media landscape.
Nagbe rebutted claims by the management of Roots FM that their facility was shut down by the Government of Liberia, clarifying that the premises of the station were only barricaded by the police in order to validate the initial inventory that was taken by the police.
Nagbe questioned as to why the government is not seen closing other radio stations that are critical of the administration.
He revealed that Lonestar Cell MTN, which is the legitimate owner of the facility in which Roots FM is operating, consented to cooperate with the police in the investigation and, as such, should accept every legal method used by the police to foster the probe.
Speaking further on media tolerance by the Weah-led government, Nagbe indicated that 99.9 percent of the radio stations in Liberia are critical of government, and bulk of those stations are owned by members of the opposition and other private individuals.
“If it is true that their (Roots FM) transmitter was stolen, it is the responsibility of the government to launch an investigation and find it. It is the police that determine at which point a crime scene must be secured once an investigation is ongoing in a matter,” Nagbe noted.
He called on the management of Roots FM and the general public to remain calm as the investigation into the alleged robbery at the station is being solved.
He also assured that the Government of Liberia will get to the bottom of the investigation, adding that, “This allegation has damaged the name of the country so much. To present this country that has so much freedom of speech and expression as one that is totalitarian is unfair and this is why we insist that nothing will be spared to get to the bottom of this situation.”