According to our LTA source, several radio stations including Senator George Weah’s Kings FM and City FM owe government huge arrears in taxes but continue to operate freely. “Kings FM alone owes government about $35,000, but when the TLA attempted to close them down, the president intervened, saying the closure would send the wrong signal that government is targeting opposition media.
Other radio stations reportedly indebted to Government include Power FM, among several others. “Some of the indebted radio stations owe as much as $65,000USD in tax arrears,” our source disclosed.
Henry Costa’s Voice FM 102.7 and Radio LIB24 105.1 were the first two radio stations to feel the LTA’s shutdown wrath on grounds that they were operating illegally. At a recent Ministry of Information press briefing, Commissioner for Engineering and Technology Henry Benson said the two stations owe taxes to the Liberian government, thus their refusal has prompted the court closure.
The decision of the government to petition the Civil Law Court to close the offices of Voice FM has sparked stern criticisms from every stratum of the Liberian society as well as from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanding the reopening of the station immediately.
But Voice FM officials believe the LTA action is meant to silence their critical stance on the excesses of government officials, whose gross misconducts might not actually be sanctioned by President Sirleaf.
In response to the government’s action upon his return to Liberia, the manager of the closed station, Mr. Henry Costa, told Capitol FM yesterday that he is seeking the intervention of the court to reopen his station within seven days.
Mr. Costa said his Voice FM was illegally closed because he has been advocating for the rights of the Liberian people and exposing ills in Government. He rejects claims that he is a blackmailer or a villain.
The talk show host rubbished claims by some citizens about his involvement into blackmailing, noting he has not been the only media person accused of soliciting money from government officials or citizens.
He challenged anyone to prove that he is a blackmailer.
Henry averred that he went to jail twice and won the Liberian government in court. He indicated that he has spent thousands of dollars to file lawsuit to challenge the government’s decision.
He further stated that there is no law in the country that prohibits citizens from criticizing the court when the court does wrong.
Notwithstanding the unfair closure of “illegal stations”, Mr. Costa is confident that the independence of the court system will suffice.
He assured his audience that his radio station will be opened within seven days.