By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Punch FM Chief Executive Officer Patrick Honnah, has threatened a legal action against the Weah-led Government for damages having held his business (Punch FM) non-operational for four years without any justifiable reasons.
“Never use power to come after people including any political process that a people is part of because anybody can be entrapped,” Honnah mentioned in an interview with judicial reporters Monday.
In January 2018, One Media Incorporated (PUNCH FM) was said to have met all requirements under the laws of Liberia to operate as a media institution, with the Government of Liberia at the time of issuing the entity broadcast license and permit.
After five months, the Government prevented the station from coming on air, citing a review of the country’s media sector as the basis for its action.
Based upon that, on October 15, 2019, the Management of Punch FM filed a 13- count Petition for Declaratory Judgement against the government particularly the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism through its then Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, requesting the court to restore its right to operate in the country.
Judge Gbeneweleh ruled at the time that the permit granted the Management of Punch FM January 10, 2018 to operate was valid; adding that the court perceives no deception and misrepresentation under the fact and circumstances in this case, and that the permit granted the petitioner on January 10, 2018 was valid.
The ministry of information did take an exception to the judge’s ruling and filed before the honorable supreme court a petition for declaratory judgment. A declaratory judgment is a request to a court by a party in a case requesting the court to restore its right.
Handling down ruling on behalf of the high court on Monday, September 26, 2022, Justice Sie-A- Nyene G. Yuoh said though the Executive Law Ref. Code 12:31 grants the Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism to regulate the Fourth Estate, yet it violated the constitutional right of Punch FM through its Manager Patrick Honnah.
“The Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism violated Punch FM constitution rights to due process when it suspended Punch FM License without conducting a hearing,” Justice Yuoh continues. That the continued closure of One Media Incorporated- Punch FM premise without any justifiable reason violates the Punch FM rights in many respects.”
She added that the trial court properly assumed jurisdiction over the petition for the Declaratory Judgment and declare the right to operate Punch FM under the license granted by the Ministry of Information.
Honnah has welcomed this ruling noting that the case would be used as a case study for many others.
Justice Yuoh further instructed the Clerk of the High Court to send a mandate to the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court commanding the Judge presiding therein to resume jurisdiction over the case and give effect to the Judge.