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Opinions of Friday, 28 May 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Is It an Offence to Insult Ace Ankomah?

“A legal luminary Ace Ankomah has stated firmly that insulting the President per the Criminal Code of the 1992 constitution of Ghana, cannot be considered an offence

" ‘Technically, insulting the President is no longer an offence under our laws. Meanwhile insulting a chief remains an offence which should never be criminalised,’ he stated.

The above are the introduction and quote from a story “It is not an offence to insult the President - Ace Ankomah” by and published by many websites. The story was about Mr. Ace Ankomah’s take on Kumasi-based social commentator’s unsavoury remarks about President Mills.

In a country when illiteracy and ignorance are threatening to make rank nonsense of democratic gains, I see it as very unfortunate when the enlightened, who are expected to educate, use the opportunity they get in the media to aggravate the situation. I sometimes wonder if the so-called legal luminaries take pleasure in playing the devil’s advocate or they really mean what they say. My knowledge of Law is very limited but I have all my six senses intact. And like any Ghanaian, I think it’s about time we told our so-called experts that at least we are discerning.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines offence as “an illegal act.” So if Mr. Ankomah says insulting the President is not illegal, then he means it is legal. If he made particular reference to the Criminal Code, then I expected him in the story to say shed more light on the treatment of insults in our law books. Failure to do so is a general endorsement of such wayward behaviours in our society. Are chiefs more important than the president? Has the president not got rights? Does his image not affect the general image of the people of Ghana? If we remove the cloak of presidency from the president, he remains a citizen of Ghana who is entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. All of us, including Mr. Ace Ankomah, are entitled to this. So is the “learned” man telling us that it is legal to insult? If Mr. A insults Mr. B and a fight ensues between the two, will Mr. Ankomah not have anything to say in court if his client is Mr. B?

Or if someone goes on air to insult Mr. Ace Ankomah will it amount to an offence or not? I just want to know what the criminal code says about that.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [] The Writer is the outgoing SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism.