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General News of Friday, 17 September 2010

Source: citifmonline

Citi FM MD says Craig Murray needs to be examined

A former General Manager in charge of programmes at Multi Media Group, Owners of Joy FM in Accra, Samuel Attah- Mensah has discounted claims by former Deputy British High Commissioner, Craig Murray that the NDC government, under ex President Jerry John Rawlings attempted to close down Joy FM on the eve of the 2000 General elections.

Now the Managing Director of Citi FM, Samuel Attah-Mensah, popularly known as Sammens, told Eyewitness News on Citi FM that Craig Murray, who has in recent times sought to gain attention by making allegations on key national issues “seriously needs to be examined at all fronts.”

In a book published about the 2000 election, the former Deputy British High Commissioner to Ghana narrated a story of how the then NDC party attempted to close down Joy FM, after realizing that there was no way it could win the elections legitimately.

“The NDC had woken up too late to the fact that they could not win a legitimate election. They had then made clumsy and unpopular steps to try and prevent a legitimate election. The failed attempt to thwart the voter ID scheme was one example. They also tried to move against FM radio when it was far too late.

“On the evening before the poll, I was taking Roger Gale and Nigel Jones to visit Joy FM, possibly Ghana’s most influential radio station, run by my good friend, Sam Attah Mensah. We were sitting in the back office of the station when armed men of Rawlings’ security from the castle came in the front door and announced that they had come to close down the radio station on the President’s instructions.

“I appeared from the office and said: “Good evening. I am Craig Murray, Deputy British High Commissioner, and these gentlemen are Mr. Roger Gale MP and Mr. Nigel Williams MP, members of the British Parliament who are here on behalf of the Inter Parliamentary Union”.

“Roger Gale then added: “Obviously there has been some mistake. I thought I heard you say that you were closing down the station, but we are here to visit our fellow democracy, Ghana, and democracies don’t close down radio stations”.

“Nigel Williams then chipped in: “It must be a misunderstanding. Perhaps you can go back and ask for more instructions?”

“The goons, thwarted by this unexpected manifestation of the British Parliament, left in some confusion. Joy FM never was closed down. We returned to our tea, and Sam opened something a bit stronger to celebrate.” He narrated.

Reacting to the publication, Mr. Samuel Attah-Mensah who happened to be at the center of the said debacle, denied that the men who visited the station the evening were armed men from the National security.

He recounts that Craig Murray visited Joy FM, at about 10:30pm on 6th December, 2000 after hearing of a media blown controversy about the seizure of then Joy FM reporter Paul Adom Otchere’s recorder at the court.

Paul had had his recorder seized after secretly recording proceedings at the court where the controversial issue of the voter ID card was being heard.

“Eventually we made some noise on air, they released him and they also released the recording. I think that Craig, having heard this was excited and drew some interest, so he came around to Joy to find out what had happened and we said that we were now trying to find out what had happened.”

“On that night; the eve of the programme, we had just completed a programme, then ‘Decision 2000’ or something and the then President Rawlings had done the National address on TV and so the discussants had really dealt with the issues and the issue of the ID card was also a core element of the discussion. There were heated arguments after the programme and people left and I remember Haruna Iddrisu came after listening to the programme, I remember Kwame Akuffo and all these guys also came around; lots of people.

He added that after all the guys had left, Craig Murray arrived at the premises of Joy FM in the company of two gentlemen, Nigel and Roger.

“I remember asking him what his mission was at the time, he said they were doing their last minute rounds and they just thought they would see what Joy FM was up to. I gave him a seat at my office and we had a chat.”

Sammens narrated further that while the discussions were ongoing three gentlemen who claimed to have been sent from the National Security walked into the studio and asked to see the manager.

“They were not armed so I am not sure about the armed men and they didn’t come as soldiers. So armed men, soldiers: No! They came and asked to see the manager so I came out and they said ‘You people do you think what you are doing is good?”

He said the people claimed to have been sent from National Security but he had his doubt because one of them was familiar.

In the process a heated exchange ensued between him and the men, drawing the attention of several other people.

“…so one of them said that ‘do you know we can close the station down?’ So it was at the point that he said that that Craig walked in. So that is what he heard.”

He added that when the people claimed that they were from the National security, Paul Adom Otchere picked a phone and pretended to be calling the then National Security Advisor, Kofi Totobi Quakyi.

“So Paul just picked up the phone and said ‘Uncle Totobi, there are these guys here who say that you have sent them. Quickly the people vanished, they ran away. So between ourselves at Joy FM at the time, we knew that the people were not from the National Security…So they just left and that ended the story.”

This account sharply contradicts that of Craig Murray who directly accused the NDC government and then President Rawlings of being behind the temporal disturbance at Joy FM that evening. Mr. Samuel Attah-Mensah chided Craig Murray for “struggling to bestow upon himself a certain over bloated feeling of importance in the role that he supposedly played in our elections.”

Sammens believes Craig Murray needs a thorough examination from all fronts because his behavior in recent times leaves much to be desired.

“He is not Ghanaian; I don’t know why the guy keeps coming to our issues. We should throw him away and think about developing our country.” He said.

It is recalled that Craig Murray in February, 2010, also accused the erstwhile NPP government of corruption in a deal between the government of Ghana and Zhakem to install at Kpone, some power turbines VRA bought from manufacturer Alsthom for 70 Million dollars.

He told Citi FM that some three years after the money was paid, Ghanaian taxpayers have nothing to show for the 150 million dollars sunk into the project. He accused Zakhem of stealing the Ghanaian taxpayer’s money and covering up their failure to deliver on the terms of the contract with a long concrete wall at the project site.

The allegations were subsequently denied by both NPP functionaries and Authorities of Zakhem.