During the argument on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Justice argued that the court should dismiss the entire motion file by Roots FM Legal Counsel Cllr. TiawanGongloe on grounds that there is no magnitude in the case.
The state argued that Roots FM, represented by its Manager Mr. Fidel Saydee, filed a motion to return property and suppress evidence, and in the said motion, he attached an article of incorporation in the name of Roots Holding Inc. (Root FM) which should claim the court’s attention, because it is a corporate entity established under the Association law of the Republic of Liberia.
“It is regrettable to state that from the face of the Article of Incorporation pleaded before court, Roots Holding did not by law, authorize Mr. Fidel Saydee to file said motion on its behalf because there is no showing that Roots Inc. is a corporate entity that operates.
Roots Holding neglected to show a notary board resolution from roots boards of directors authorizing Mr. Fidel Saydee in his representative capacity to file said action for and on behalf of the corporation (Root Holding). Fidel Saydee, by law, is a non-existing individual who lacks the capacity and standing to file said action and for him to have done so and to have this matter brought under the proper jurisdiction, the board should have granted him (Fidel Saydee) a Board resolution authorizing him to file said motion on its behalf,” the government lawyers argued.
The state further argued that, Fidel Saydee lacks the legal capacity, and as such, the court should take note that the Board of Directors never authorized him neither gave him any permission, hence, the court should dismiss the petition.
However, Cllr. TiawanGongloe, one of the lead counsels representing the legal interest of Roots FM, informed the court that the state is only pleading in bad fate to delay the hearing of the motion.
He argued that the application made by the state is limited to civil action and that there is no provision of the criminal procedure law that supports the requirements for a company that has been brought before any court within the Republic to file a board resolution before it can defend or seek any remedy provided under the criminal procedure law.
Cllr. Gongloe further argued that the application denying his client the right to defend itself under the constitution and statute laws of Liberia as why corporate defendant would be required to file a board resolution before it can seek any legal relief is the violation of his client’s right to speedy trial under the Liberian laws.
Following the arguments, the court reserved ruling into the matter to a later date.
It can be recalled that Roots FM was forcibly closed on October 10, 2019 as court sheriffs, escorted by heavily armed police of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) stormed the premises of the station to execute a forceful closure of that media institution.
Roots FM is a local media institution owned by provocative talk show host Henry P. Costa. Costa is a fierce critic of President George Manneh Weah, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and by extension the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Notably, Costa, who on most occasions had described himself as a political commentator rather than a journalist, had consistently thrown several jibs at President Weah and the ruling establishment. He was one of the leading members of the Council of Patriots (COP) that orchestrated the much-publicized June 7, 2019 protest.
The court sheriffs backed by the armed police officers broke through the doors of the Roots FM, took away several equipment belonging to the station and shut down the institution.
The closure of Roots FM and Freedom FM were sometimes ago recommended by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the umbrella organization for all media organizations and journalists in the country for allegedly polluting the media airwaves.
The call was then made by the President of the PUL, Mr. Charles B. Coffey recently during the 55th anniversary celebration of the union in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Freedom 87.9 FM, a station owned and operated by the Director for Operations of the National Security Agency (NSA), Mr. Sam Siryon, has been operating on similar path with Roots FM in preaching hate messages, especially against the opposition block.
Accordingly, following the closure of Roots FM, some angry protestors, predominantly anti-government supporters stormed Freedom FM to demand “justice” thus ordering the closure of Freedom FM as well.
The protestors sang anti-government slogans, threw stones and splashed water in the quest to get “justice.”
The two separate incidents caused serious havoc in Central Monrovia with several businesses shutting down their operations.