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Opinions of Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Columnist: Yiadom, Boakye

Ghanaian Journalists Not Defending Freedom of Speech!

That Ghanaian Journalists are working for their selfish interests and not defending the freedom of speech of the individual is a fact that cannot be denied. “We must know that anarchy reigns where Journalism fails.”
Since the arrest, incarceration and the release of Nana Darkwa, a 27 year-old New Patriotic Party (NPP) activist on bail, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has either deliberately or consciously been silent over this issue which borders on the freedom speech that was enjoyed absolutely under ex-President Kufuor’s administration.
Nana Darkwa was arrested from the premises of Top Radio, an Accra-based FM Radio Station, for allegedly saying that he believed the former President J.J. Rawlings burnt his own house, which was reduced to ashes on Sunday, February 14, 2010.
While the fire raged on, vehicles and all metallic equipment, including refrigerators, were able to crawl out of the fire. Ghana’s Fire Marshall has, however, not been able to ascertain the cause of the fire to date.
Since Nana Darkwa‘s arrest at the premises of the Top FM Radio in Accra, not a single Journalist or a newspaper picked up the pen to defend the freedom and of the rights of this individual but he has been left to fend for himself.
Surprisingly, when the Police CID invited Ato Kwamena Dadzie, Joy FM’s acting News Editor for questioning over a news story carried by Joy FM; all the GURUS in the media woke up and shook themselves in defence of Ato Dadzie. Is this not “Double Standards” Ghanaian Journalists are setting up in the country?

When ex-President Kufuor assumed the reins of government, J.J. Rawlings said emphatically that he knew the people who were killing women in Ghana and sucking their blood. He even alleged that some of the Ministers of Kufuor’s administration was involved in the killings. Besides, he told the nation Ghana that he knew the killers of Ya-Na.
As coward as J.J. Rawlings is, he refused to honour an invitation of the security agencies for information that would lead to the arrest of the culprits. The female killings started even before the advent of Kufuor’s administration.
Kufuor’s administration, which believed in the rule of law, did not pursue the arrest of Rawlings as a past President for the information he claimed to know.
If Ex-President Rawlings were a believer in justice and freedom of speech he would have authorized the release of the young man while investigation on the fire continues. It is therefore preposterous for Rawlings to live in a glass house and talk about justice.
Was it not under his (Rawlings’) administration that three renowned Judges and a retired Army Officer were picked up at dawn from their various homes and murdered in cold blood?
Were they given the chance to appear before at least “a kangaroo court” to answer any charge if any? Is it not ridiculous for Rawlings to talk about justice? Have journalists had the guts to direct these questions to Rawlings?
Ex-President Rawlings must give thanks to the indemnity clause in the constitution. Else he would have appeared before the Human Rights Court in The Hague. He should not forget that Ex-President Aiende of Chile is facing similar charges in his own country, despite the fact that he is streak in age.
It is on record that in 2006 at a GJA workshop held in Tamale and sponsored by the British High Commission the then outgoing President Ajoa Yeboah-Afari and the then acting Director of the School of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Dr. Bonnah Koomson, commented that there must be “professionalism in journalism”.
Following the arrest and remand of Nana Darkwa, the Minority in Parliament decided to boycott Parliament indefinitely until he was released.
The Committee for Joint Action (CJA), in a statement, expressed concern about the arrest and incarceration of Nana Darkwa for allegedly making false statements about fire incident in the residence of Ex-President Rawlings.
The statement said “we are also appalled at the manner in which an aide to former President Rawlings appears to have instigated the arrest of the said gentleman. We are even more scandalized at the decision of Judge Wilson to remand Nana Darkwa over such an innocuous incident.”
What did Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) do and what is it planning to do in the case of Nana Darkwa? “What is good for the goose is also good for the gander”
The Minority held that the “unfettered freedoms” Ghanaians enjoyed for eight years under the NPP rule is now being substituted with the NDC’s “dark days”.
I wish to commend the Minority in Parliament and the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) on the bold steps they took to secure Nana Darkwa’s release at least on bail.
Dr. Boakye Yiadom