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Opinions of Saturday, 23 December 2017

Columnist: Kwasi Frimpong

Free speech vrs defamation: A test case for Akufo-Addo

Manasseh Azure Awuni raised some serious issues in his write-up on corruption under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

I am one person who has always maintained that Manasseh just like any other Ghanaian has his own views and no one can ever attempt to gag him from expressing those views.

Especially not Akufo-Addo who fought for the repeal of the criminal libel law and brought this 'everyone should speak his/her mind' on our neck.

Manasseh raised several issues that seek to impugn negativity on the presidency and again, that's his right.

But the allegation raised directly against the person of the president where Manasseh alleged that the President directly ORDERED for a stop into the conduct of investigation instituted by the energy minister Boakye Agyarko in the BOST saga smacks of a defamation of the president's character: if the allegation raised by the young man is found out not to be entirely accurate.

As a journalist, I know Manasseh -professionally- is NOT obliged or better still CANNOT disclose the said source in government alleged to have 'leaked' this information to the young journalist.

Whiles Manasseh is under no obligation per journalistic rules and ethics to reveal the identity of his 'source', the president on the other hand is under obligation to clear himself from this allegation.

The best way to do this is to sue Manasseh Azure Awuni and allow the court to clear him (the president), since our current political dispensation doesn't seem to give the president any other alternative.

As a man who has fought for press freedom for the greater part of his life and he himself been a journalist, any attempt to try to sue Manasseh smacks of 'trying to gag the media' and any attempt to let this allegation go unattended to is a huge indictment on his person which can easily cost him his presidency.

So how does a human right lawyer, a fighter for democracy and a journalist clear his name without making it look like he is censoring the media in the country?

A test case for Akufo-Addo and the Akan will say mmere ne nkrabea na ebekyere (time and season will determine).

The writer is a journalists and a youth activist.

Kwasi Frimpong
+233 20 183 3775
gilbfrimp@gmail.com
@fsayitright