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Opinions of Sunday, 11 September 2016

Columnist: Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata and Dr. A. Kobla Dotse

Complaint to the National Media Commission of Ghana

By Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata and Dr. A. Kobla Dotse

Complaint To The National Media Commission Of Ghana: CONTINUUING BREACH AND THE QUEST FOR COMPLIANCE

We wish to draw the attention of the National Media Commission (NMC) to a continuing infringement on our rights by the Editor and the Managers of the Daily Graphic, and to seek the intervention of the NMC for the restoration of the rights under infringement in compliance with Article 162(6) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.

On July 28, 2016, as public spirited individuals who are concerned about the falling standards of education in our dear country, Ghana, we travelled to Washington, DC, USA, to submit an investigative report we had been working on for the previous six months to officials of the Ghana Embassy, for onward submission to the Minister of Education in Ghana. This report identified some institutions and individuals who are in breach of the Ghana National Accreditation Board’s (NAB) instrument of authority, Act 2007 (Act 744) and other amendments of the Act thereof.

After officially handing the report to the Ghana Embassy in Washington, D.C, USA, the said report was made available to all media houses in Ghana via email, and, in some cases, hard copies were hand-delivered to particular media houses due to the strategic positions they hold on the Ghanaian media landscape. However, to say that attempts were not made by some of the media houses to stifle the said report will be an understatement. The maneuvers to undermine the report and cast doubts on it corroborate stories of earlier attempts by well-meaning citizens to expose the canker. Indeed, some of those pathfinders with whom we were privileged to have interacted during the process of compiling this report were maligned and subdued into servile silence. In our case, while a few of the media houses featured the story about our report, Daily Graphic, which was one of the recipients of the report, till today, has refused to publish it or any excerpts therefrom, as other media houses. Nonetheless, as the campaign was largely designed to use social media, we are proud to announce that the report forced itself into the Ghanaian media space.

The sad thing about this campaign is that, despite the Daily Graphic refusing to publish anything about the report, it has persistently provided unhindered access to its media platforms—both in newsprint and online—to our antagonists to slam us. It is unfortunate to note that a national paper would be so compromised to the extent of dereliction of its duty in acting fairly on an issue of public interest. Below are a few examples to demonstrate the complicity of the Daily Graphic in taking a side on the issue:

1. On August 5, 2016, Swiss Management Center (SMC) alumni in Ghana issued two press statements, one in print and the other online. In these press statements, SMC alumni represented the SMC as the number one (1) business school in Switzerland and the best five (5) in the entire Europe. They also contested some of the issues we have raised in our report concerning the accreditation status of SMC (please follow the link of one of such statements http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/fake-doctorates-swiss-university-has-accreditation-smc-alumni.html).

2. Following the Alumni press statement, the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), issued a press statement in which they chose to attack us directly (please follow the link to the UPSA press statement here: http://www.dailygraphiconline.com/images/qrcodes/pdfs/UPSA_Press_Release.pdf).

3. We tendered in a rejoinder to the Daily Graphic on August 10, 2016. Fortunately, this rejoinder slipped past the keen but unfair eyes of the gatekeepers at the Daily Graphic and was published. In this rejoinder, we addressed the issues raised by both the UPSA and the alumni of the SMC (please follow the link to our rejoinder here: http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/rejoinder-upsa-justifies-swiss-university-s-accreditation.html).

4. Two days after our rejoinder, the Daily Graphic tendered in an apology titled, “Apology to UPSA, others.” We found the reasons the Daily Graphic stated for its apology unfounded, biased, and against the spirit of the noble profession of journalism. We promptly responded to this apology and clarified issues (Please follow the link to our rejoinder here http://www.modernghana.com/music/38323/rejoinder-apology-to-upsa-others.html). But the Daily Graphic refused to publish our rejoinder. We only realized later that the Managing Director of the Daily Graphic, Mr. Edem Ashigbey, is also a current student of the SMC. We concluded that nobody would work against his/her own interest.

As all these transpired, Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata was contacted by the Marketing Manager of the Daily Graphic, Ms. Shirley Acquaah-Harrison, who explained that they did not receive any of our rejoinders and furnished us with the contact number of the Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr. Ransford Tetteh. Ms. Acquuah-Harrison’s concern was about the image of the newspaper being dragged into the mud. But she also intimated that she would like us to be able to send articles and rejoinders to the Daily Graphic directly.

On Friday, September 2, 2016, the Daily Graphic published a press statement from the NAB in which we were the subject of derision. In that press statement, the NAB Executive Secretary, Mr. Kwame Dattey made some representations that we believe were meant to cast a slur on our professional integrity for acts he considered “unethical.” Unfortunately, Mr. Dattey failed to point to any particular ethical principle that he considered breached. We promptly responded to Mr. Dattey’s press statement in a rejoinder to the Daily Graphic on September 4, 2016, clarifying issues and refocusing the issues in contention with the NAB, SMC, and UPSA. We also explained to Mr. Dattey and his organization that ethical breaches are serious issues. Particularly in the US, for example, universities are concerned about ethical and legal issues that dog the research process. To this end, avenues are always available for redress, to punish, and to correct those breaches. Thus, we urged Mr. Dattey and the NAB to report the specific ethical breaches his organization has observed to the Valdosta State University Institutional Review Board or any panel of ethicist of their choice. But as of this writing, there is no indication that he has done so yet.

The said latest rejoinder was sent to the Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr. Tetteh, with Ms. Acquaah-Harrison and other individuals copied on the attendant email. We also orchestrated the same rejoinder to be hand-delivered by two different individuals to the premises of the Daily Graphic. Two of the individuals who were copied on the said email responded to acknowledge receipt of the email. As usual, Mr. Tetteh and Ms. Acquaah-Harrison did not find it essential to acknowledge receipt of the email.

Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata, therefore, placed calls to Mr. Tetteh on three different occasions, but he insisted he did not receive the email. Dr. Tsikata also called Ms. Acquaah-Tetteh who informed him that she had received the rejoinder. Dr. Tsikata urged her to print it out and hand it to her colleague. In spite of this, Dr. Tsikata resent the rejoinder to Mr. Tetteh. By now it should be clear to members of the NMC that our constitutional rights to a rejoinder have been trampled upon and breached gleefully by the Daily Graphic and its managers.

We are seeking the following reliefs without further delay:

1. The Daily Graphic must publish an immediate apology in which it will unreservedly apologize to the Ghanaian reading public for allowing its platforms to be used by individuals to advertise their dubious honorary and earned doctoral degrees against the legal instrument of the NAB. Examples of these individuals are: the IGP, (Dr.) John Kudalor, (Dr.) Patrick Kobla Agboba, alias Torgbi Sri III, and the NDC Chairman, (Dr.) Kofi Portuphy, among a long list of others. We believe that the strategic position of the Daily Graphic makes it not only an educational channel, but a source of information that profoundly shapes the minds of its wide readership (our people of Ghana). 2. The Daily Graphic must publish two of our rejoinders that directly responded to the NAB, UPSA, and the SMC without further delay. Copies of these rejoinders are attached to this complaint. 3. The NAB must, with immediate effect, take down its erroneous press statement which it is still hosting on its website, if it cannot identify specifically which particular ethical principles that our report has breached. As it stands now, the NAB’s accusation of ethical breach can only be treated as speculative and malicious, with the tendency to cast doubts on our professional integrity.

The Editor and the Managing Director of the Daily Graphic should be reminded that the paper plays a crucial role in shaping the minds of the Ghanaian public, due to its strategic reach. Thus, when they commit errors in the discharge of their duties, as prevails in “some civilizations,” it is important that the Daily Graphic take steps to correct those missteps. For example, the mistake of publishing all those dubiously earned and causa honoris on its pages without a responsibility of ensuring the authenticity of those credentials.

We thank the NMC very much in anticipation of its speedy evaluation of this case and subsequent consideration for immediate action.

Sincerely, Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata Assistant Professor of Communication

Dr. A. Kobla Dotse Director, Chemical Research and Development

Postscript: Rejoinder 1 http://www.modernghana.com/music/38323/rejoinder-apology-to-upsa-others.html

Rejoinder 2: Is attached (This rejoinder would be published soon).