By Lawrence T. Hoff
Radio Gbehzohn one of the oldest Community Radio Stations in Grand Bassa County allegedly came under heavy attack Friday morning at about 9 a.m. by Rep. Gabriel B. Smith and his body guards leading to the Radio Station totally damaged.
According to Ruben Bannie, one of the campaign leaders who went with Representative Smith, they went to the Radio Station to buy air time at the same Radio Station that Rep. Smith for the past two and the half years had not appeared since the last incident with him and the Station Manager, Mr. Hector Mulbah.
In 2012 Mr. Hector Mulbah was ordered flogged by Rep. Smith on grounds that he, Smith was denied air time by Mr. Mulbah during the arrival of the body of the late Sen. John F. Whitfield in the county, a situation which led to the placement of a media black-out on Rep. Smith.
Mr. Bannie said when they got at the Radio Station, they were told to meet the Sales Manager identified as Archie George, which they did.
Mr. Bannie said Representative Smith told the Sales Manager that he wanted 45 minutes air time to be paid for but the Sales Manager told Representative Smith that they had only 30 minutes air-time which would cost US$ 135.
He said Representative Smith paidUS$1,000 to the Sales Manager and he took the money but went to consult the Station Manager only to return to give a cock- and-bull story that he was waiting for a call before they could get on air.
Mr. Bannie said the Sales Manager told them that they will not use the radio station until the Board meets, but Representative Smith said, he was a Board member and wondered why he had to be prevented.
Mr. Bannie said further that just at that time they saw one of the workers switching off the transmitter.
“I told Rep. Smith; papay, you see what the people are doing here?; they are doing so to pretend that the station is off-air so that we can leave. We went there to clarify that our Boss is not a liar as it was said on the radio. It was Solomon Kollie and I that were to appear on the radio,” Bannie said.
Mr. Bannie said after one of the workers of the station cut off the transmitter, they continued to cut other installations off.
“We said; then we will help to cut off the other things. I told the Manager that if we don’t talk on the radio no one will until election is over in the county. We were four that went with Rep. Smith,” Mr. Bannie said.
But Rep. Smith said he did not order the station damaged by his body guards which happened in his absence.
“I went at the radio station to talk to my people and I was denied. I was the one appealing on the radio. I took along with me two body guards. It is a skim created by them to paint me black to the Bassa people so that Sen. Findley can have a free ride. I blame Hector Mulbah for what happened at his radio station because Hector is acting under the guard of Sen. Findley,” Rep. Smith alleged.
He, however, said he did not give order to his body guards to help cut off things at the radio station. “They did so in my absence. I was in the other room so I did not see what was going on at that time,” Rep Smith said.
For his part, Mr. Hector Mulbah said, minutes after he left the main studio to get outside, he saw about 15 men with Rep. Smith on the compound of the station.
“It claimed my attention and I wanted to know what they were doing on the compound. I asked one of my staff and he told me that Rep. Smith had come to buy air time. I got concerned and I called the Board Chairman to let him know what was happening on the ground and later called the police commander as well,” Mr. Mulbah said.
Mr. Mulbah said they usually cut the station off by 9 a.m. to give Lonestar chance to change from generator one to generator two, but when the light went off, Rep. Smith said I cut off the generator. I told him “I was not the one that cut it off; it was Lonestar that did it because they have to change power.”
Rep. Smith said the station must not go off until he says what he wanted to say, but it was at the same time the power went off.
“I did not call the Sales Manager for consultation, because I was not there when they were talking business. I later saw Rep. Smith giving orders to his men to cut off the station since he could not use the station and they damaged the entire installations in the station,” Mr. Mulbah disclosed.
Mr. Mulbah said the station lost three laptops and phones with the amount of US$2,500 that was in the Sales Manager’s office. He said the money was there to pay workers.
The case will later be taken to the court for hearing because both parties were at the police station undergoing investigation.
The Grand Bassa police commander said, he will do all he could to put things under control as a team of investigators were dispatched from Monrovia for the case. For how long the radio station will be off-air, the manager of the radio station said he does not know while Rep. Smith said Radio Gbehzohn is a riding horse for Sen. Findley.
By Lawrence T. Hoff