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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Columnist: XYZ

Media Freedom? Which Media Freedom, Mr. President? – Prince Minkah Asks

When I heard the President, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo talk about media freedom all I could do was sit in my couch and just wonder if the President pays attention during his daily briefing or he is not briefed at all?

Many questions are still lingering in my mind as I write this epistle. The President has always touted his credentials as an advocate for Human Rights and that is the reason the many infractions as far as media freedom is concerned continues to surprise many including his very own Dr. Charles Wrekko Brobbey who hinted in a Joy News interview that the country was returning to the dark days.

So his Excellency I want to vent my frustration through these questions: what was the crime of online media, ModernGhana.com, when two of its staff, including a deputy editor were picked up by the National Security on July, 27, 2019? Mr. President do you know the journalists have subsequently reported that they were tortured?

Apart from the rampant abuses against journalists, the current government has also sought to introduce a number of unfriendly media industry policies. On June 6, 2019 for example, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and other stakeholders had to convene a forum to contest a draft policy by the government that seeks to encrypt all free-to-air television channels in the country and to grant conditional access to viewers subject to the payment of digital access fees. What is our crime, Mr. President?

Mr Akufo-Addo, are you aware that in May, the National Communication Authority (NCA) shut down a number of radio stations in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner? In a non-transparent exercise, the authority shut down the two main pro-opposition radio stations in the capital at a time when the said radio stations were providing live coverage of an event by the main opposition party?

What was the crime of Manaseh Azure Awuni after his expose on De Eye group that, he could no longer count himself safe?

What about my colleague and friend Wisdom Hededzome of Radio XYZ and Power FM who was assaulted by city guards at Madina while on an official duty?

What about the Ghanaian Times reporters who were assaulted by security officials? Did you hear your friend Kennedy Agyapong’s vitriolic attack on Ahmed Suale the investigative journalist whose death till today remains horrifying to many who are crusaders of the truth?

Today your friends have all come to conclude that this creeping suppression of Media freedom is simply returning Ghana to the dark days? Mr President per the facts presented to you, are you not ashamed to tout that your tenure is committed to media freedom?