Patrick Honnah Defeats Government as Supreme Court Clears Punch FM/TV to Operate
Monrovia – At long last, the Supreme Court of Liberia on Monday finally upheld the ruling of the lower court in favor of veteran Liberian talk show host and his One Media Incorporated.
In January of 2018, One Media Incorporated met all requirements under the laws of Liberia to operate as a media institution with the Government of Liberia at the time issuing the entity broadcast license and permit.
But five months later, the Weah administration prevented the station from coming on air, citing a review of the country’s media sector as the basis for its action.
However, the Management of Punch FM took a legal stance against the government through a Petition for Declaratory Judgment.
Furthermore, in January 2020, Civil Law Court ‘A’ Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh restored the right of One Media Incorporated to operate a radio station, Punch FM 106.3 in the country, but the government, through the Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism, on the other hand, took an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Following a review process of court records, the Supreme Court in its judgment noted that whilst the Executive Law Rev. Code 13.31 grants the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs, and Tourism authority to regulate the Fourth Estate, however, in the instant case, the Ministry violated One Media Incorporated’s constitutional rights to due process when it suspended its license without conducting a hearing.
According to the Supreme Court, the continued closure of Punch FM premises without any justifiable reason violates the entity’s rights in many aspects.
Therefore, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled, affirming the ruling of the Civil Law Court to restore the right of One Media Incorporated to operate a radio station, Punch FM 106.3 in Liberia, thus denying the government’s appeal.
The Supreme Court has mandated the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court to resume jurisdiction over the case and give effect to its judgment.
Speaking to reporters, PUNCH’s CEO Patrick Honnah said the ruling has given him the opportunity to commence t normal broadcast activities anytime soon.
He said the victory is as a result of the collective efforts of concerned Liberians since the beginning of the case adding; the act by the government was a witch hunt and violation of human rights something he says has the propensity to stuck development.
Speaking on Monday at the Temple of Justice Patrick Honnah threatened to sue the government of Liberia for damages despite the court’s ruling in his favor.
Meanwhile, Patrick Honnah stressed that the government violated the freedom of expression as indicated by the court’s ruling.