Media reports of an armed attack against radio talk show host Henry Costa’s Roots FM must be condemned by all peace loving Liberians because it is deeply disconcerting and portends a dangerous development which, if left unchecked, could lead the country down a very slippery slope, back into wanton and carefree violence as has been witnessed in the past. The Daily Observer in strongest terms condemns the act of violence perpetrated against Roots FM.
The nation must not lose sight of the fact that such crude tactics of intimidation did not help Presidents Tolbert, Doe and Taylor, all of whom met an unfortunate but inglorious end.
It would appear, from what the nation is currently bearing witness to, that despotism alongside what seems to be complete and reckless disregard of the law is creeping and is beginning to define the character of the Weah government.
This newspaper, drawing from hard but past experience of three arson attacks against the Daily Observer and arrests and imprisonment of its staff, hopes that this kind of gross intolerance to dissenting opinion being exhibited by officials of this government is not becoming a defining character of the Weah led government itself.
The Daily Observer expresses this concern drawing from hindsight and experience. All too easily, individuals who once owned nothing of significance now find themselves availed to illegally acquired wealth and are ostentatiously flaunting same in the faces of the Liberian people. And they are doing so in reckless disregard of the implications now and in the future.
This newspaper finds itself constrained to remind President Weah that he must become seized of the situation and do all he can to rein in rogue elements whose actions tend to draw the government into disrepute.
Already there are growing public concerns that this kind of lawless and violent behavior perpetrated by individuals believed to be associated with this government is being endorsed by President Weah himself.
This newspaper certainly hopes that this is not the case. However, in the face of demonstrated Police reluctance to apprehend perpetrators of such mindless violence, the public is left to conclude rightly or wrongly that President Weah endorses such strong arm tactics of violence and intimidation against political opponents or those expressing critical views of his government.
As things stand, the public is beginning to question the role of the Police in all this. Police failure so far to apprehend perpetrators of the violence against a peaceful gathering of children attending a party hosted for them by Representative Yekeh Kolubah. It has failed also to arrest perpetrators of the violence meted against Senator Nyonblee Karnga and others during a political rally in District 13 late last year.
The Daily Observer is thus constrained to ask: to whom can the citizens seek protection from violation of their rights, if not the Police? Can the Police actually be trusted to defend and protect the rights of the ordinary man on the street, for example?
Based on past experience, this newspaper cannot help but warn President Weah that those encouraging him to stifle free expression should not be given an ear.
This newspaper, relying on hindsight, recalls the late Minister of State John Rancy’s letter to President Doe, urging him to clamp down on political opponents and those opposed to his bid as a civilian president, especially his nemesis, General Thomas Quiwonkpa, in order to consolidate his hold on power.
True to Rancy’s advice, Quiwonkpa was marginalized in the Doe government and he eventually fled the country to the United States for fear of his life all on Rancy’s advice.
His return to the country at the head of an invading force, which was subsequently repulsed, led not only to his capture and execution but to bloody reprisals against his ethnic Nimba kinsmen as well.
The Daily Observer has gone to such lengths to drive home the point that such mindless violence being perpetrated against media institutions considered political opponents is bound to have repercussions that may not portend well for the country’s future peace and stability.
This is because, judging from past experience, such violence is likely to engender resistance replete with a potential to snowball into a bloody orgy of violence and mayhem.
In realization of this lurking and potential danger, this newspaper calls on President Weah to take hold of the situation and not allow it to degenerate into a free-for-all situation reminiscent of the country’s bloody past. That means, he has to take strong measures and act decisively against some of his comrades and colleagues found to be involved in acts inimical to the peace and stability of the country.
Should President Weah however fail to act in consequence of these concerns, he may, more likely than not, end up paying a high price which could even cost him his much coveted presidency.
And he must, above all, keep in mind the old saying that “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”