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General News of Thursday, 19 October 2006

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CJA hits back at Manhyia threats

Far from dying down, the debate over whether the Justice Georgina Wood Committee ought to have invited Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to help in investigations into the disappearance of parcels of cocaine aboard MV Benjamin continue to receive fresh inputs.

The latest to add to the unending debate is the Committee for Joint Action, CJA, a pressure group specifically mentioned to harbour ulterior motives in its demands that the Asantehene should have been asked to clear his name before the Wood Committee.

The CJA has condemned threats issued against some journalists including one of its members by groups in Kumasi asking that the Asantehene be left alone because references to him in the matter are demeaning to his person and office as well as containing wild aspersions.

The CJA said the Wood Committee failed in its bid to determine the whereabouts of the missing cocaine parcels when it failed to capitalise on vital leads that could have helped to establish the whereabouts of the cocaine.

The CJA said the first indication that the committee failed in its job was when it recommended that a technical committee be established to thoroughly investigate the cocaine saga when it was set up specifically because of increased pressure on government to set up a committee to investigate the matter.

A member of the Committee and editor of the Insight newspaper, Mr. Kwasi Pratt Jnr, one of those accused of deliberately attempting to soil the image and reputation of the Asantehene, says the threats amount to a subversion of the nation’s constitution.

He made the comment at a forum organized by the CJA to explain why they insist that the Asantehene should have been invited by the Wood Committee.

Describing those who issued the threats as cowards, he said the threats have rather compounded the problems of the Asantehene rather than helping him overcome them.

He questioned why the police have not deemed it fit to do anything about people who have threatened to “eradicate” him and his colleagues for daring to comment about the Asantehene.

Another speaker at the forum, Bernard Monah of the People’s National Convention and Spokesperson for the CJA said the Asantehene had tagged the quest for the truth about the missing cocaine as an Asante hate campaign.

According to Monah, the Asantehene’s comments that he would not hesitate to ask his people not to vote for any politician who raises questions about why he was not invited by the Georgina Wood Committee is only begging the issue and amounts to invoking tribalism and bringing chieftaincy into politics.

On Wednesday, the Asante Students' Union Alumni (ASUA) called on journalists and social commentators who “attacked, insulted and showed gross disrespect to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene,” on the cocaine scandal to do self-assessment on their actions.

The Alumni said should they realise their mistakes that they acted beyond bounds and apologise to Otumfuo he would graciously forgive them.

This was contained in a statement signed by Dr Baffour Asafo-Adjei, President of the Alumni and issued in Kumasi.

The statement was optimistic that all those who, through their actions or inactions, questioned the integrity of Asantehene and brought his image and that of Asanteman into disrepute would be courageous enough to admit that they had erred and would render unqualified apologies to Otumfuo Osei Tutu.

The Alumni congratulated all journalists and social commentators who have so far exhibited fairness and objectivity in their publications, discussions and comments on the cocaine saga.

"That is responsible journalism and we commend them for that. We will however entreat them to help their colleagues who have fallen short to also aspire to become responsible journalists", it said

The statement said they shared the sentiments with journalists and other groups of people and individuals who were disgusted by the threats purported to have been made by one or two individuals and groups to some journalists for incriminating the Asantehene.

"We were impressed by the swiftness with which most people condemned those who issued the threats. It is however ironic that when those journalists freely insulted the Asantehene with impunity in the name of press freedom, no such condemnations were directed at those disrespectful journalists by most of their colleagues."

"We salute the few who condemned their disrespectful colleagues and call on the others to do the same as they did to the people who threatened their colleagues."

It commended the Asantehene for his majestic tolerance in the face of the extreme provocation by these disrespectful individuals to his person, his high office and indeed Asanteman.

On Tuesday, the Paramount Chief (Deiga) of the Peki Traditional Area, Togbe Kwadwo Dei XI, said he stood by the Asantehene in condemning attempts by some people to slander the essence and embodiment of Asanteman.

"To say that the Asantehene is involved with narcotic business, is a repulsive insult targeted equally against the honour and integrity of our national chieftaincy institution," he said.

In a press statement he issued at Peki-Blengo Togbe Dei said there was the need to be cautious of "name-droppers, particularly when they are in a quandary."

He said in everyday function of the traditional institution of chieftaincy, the chief’s palace attracts all manner of people "all seeking favours or influence of those in authority as leverage to advance one interest or another."

"It is also not uncommon for influence peddlers, after becoming familiar with people in authority, to drop the names of such ‘big’ people to secure or achieve a given objective.”

Togbe Dei noted that "the character assassination phenomenon referred to, is a deadly cancer whose attack looks deceivingly harmless at the beginning, but dealing a deadly blow to its target host in the end."

He said Otumfuo was being associated with the cocaine saga on the basis of whether an implicated party sought his intervention in a matter.

"Even if, in his wisdom, the Otumfuo did grant audience to a refugee from persecution, it was in accord with the spirit of the sacred oath of duty and responsibility sworn by occupants of royal stools and skins in Ghana, more so the Otumfuo, to grant a hearing and intercession to any supplicant, equally and without discrimination."

The statement, noting the "incisive but inevitable responses of sons of Asanteman to the attack of their beloved King," called on all Ghanaians to join in the condemnation of the "very discourteous and disrespectful attack on the Asantehene."

"It is equally proper to advise our aggrieved brothers to tamper the rightful vexation with a little forbearance," it added.

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