The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Monrovia said the shutdown of the church-run Radio Veritas has nothing to do with any criticism of the government.
The Most Reverend Lewis Ziegler said the station has experienced equipment problems and the church wants to shut it down until it purchases new hardware.
He would not say, however, when the station would be back on the air since it has to find money for the new equipment.
“The station has had no problem with the government. The station was not shut down. Radio Veritas had been operating on old equipment bought a few years back from the [United] States. We have spent a lot of money on them, but they keep breaking down. Last Tuesday, the station went off the air because a part had spoiled, not because the station was critical of government that it was shut down. There was [a] technical breakdown in the station,” he said.
Ziegler would not say when the station would be back on the air because, he said, the church has to look for the money to buy new equipment.
“At the moment, it’s not the question of correcting [repairing the broken hardware]. It is the question of really getting something better that will keep us going. And, because I do not have the cash, I cannot tell how long it will take me. But, the station will be opened very soon,” the archbishop said.
But, acting radio manager Ade Wede Kekuleh said the archbishop signed a news release informing the staff that the station had been acting outside the scope of its license.
“They sent a [news] release to institutions signed by him [the archbishop], that was on no letterhead, and that was one of the reasons he gave that the institution had been acting outside of its scope and they had come under fire for it. So, the archbishop, he really cannot say that because they did their releases. They know exactly what they wrote. That’s why I keep saying, ‘I wonder when did the Catholic Church realize that we had been acting outside the scope of our license,’” she said.
Kekuleh said she is worried because, as much as she knows, from the day Radio Veritas (which means truth in Latin) was established in July of 1997, the station has lived up to its name by giving credible and unbiased news.
“Another thing they said is that, in 1996, they [Veritas staff] stepped on toes and the radio got burnt. So, what we are concluding is that we did step on toes and that is why they have decided to shut down the station,” Kekuleh said.
She said the staff has been locked out of the station and the archbishop has promised to pay them off by the end of this month.
“What they are doing now is severing whatever contracts they may have had with the employees, and then if they ever start again, those who are still interested to work with the radio station will have to reapply,” Kekuleh said.
Ziegler said it was not true that the employees had been locked out of the station.
Kekuleh said she and the staff believe there is more to the story than what the church is telling. But, she said her only interest is to ensure that her staff is paid off and well.