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Opinions of Sunday, 20 December 2020

Columnist: Media Foundation for West Africa

Police must investigate and deal decisively with threats against journalists

James Oppong-Boanuh, Inspector-General of Police James Oppong-Boanuh, Inspector-General of Police

The Media Foundation for West Africa condemns threats issued online by some unknown individuals against journalists of the Multimedia Group in connection with the coverage of Ghana’s December 7, 2020, general elections, and urge the police to investigate and arrest the culprits.

The Management of the media organisation in a letter dated December 14, 2020, and signed by its General Manager (Joy Brands) and the Chief Human Resource Officer, Nana Mbroh Elegba, reported the threats to the Director General of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the Police.

“We wish to formally bring to your attention and to petition the police to investigate series of threats received by some of our employees who were involved in the coverage of the December 7, 2020 elections. These threats are mainly from social media platforms,” the letter reads.

The journalists targeted with these threats are Evans Mensah, Winston Amoah, Philip Osei-Bonsu, Gifty Andoh-Appiah, Israel Laryea.

The petition by the Multimedia Group was accompanied by screenshots of some of the threats which were sent directly into the targets’ personal Facebook inboxes.

Below are some of the threats delivered;

“Send this message to Giftfy Andoh Appiah, Wiston Amoah etc. We are
coming for you. You evil deeds that you colluded with your paymasters to
perpetrate during the 2020 elections are exposed and well in the public.”

“…you people have allowed us to entertain him for long/ I have serve notice Multimedia, Despite…Evans, Wiston, Gary, Sefa Kaye, Paul etc should just watch. They have police protection but it will amount to nothing. I hereby serve notice again.

“Bullets do not discriminate in Asiedu Nketia’s voice.”
“Where did you get your figures from. Your end would be terrible and a disaster.”

“Senseless Man, were your team members at the polling centers? How then did you get to know that the results coming to your so-called studio are the original ones? Should anything happen in the country, you and your team are doomed.”

“You did well by embarrassing yourself all these while and you were given the reward today by Jean Mensa. However, be rest assured that, many of your kind will never know peace in this country because you have proven to be more irresponsible than the president himself and we Ghanaians will teach you a lesson you will never ever forget in your life as a journalist. Watch this space.”

The MFWA denounces these cowardly threats against journalists of the
Multimedia Group who worked tirelessly to inform the public about the
electoral process. We urge other media organisations whose journalists are
being threatened to also report the threats to the police. We urge the police to take the threats seriously, investigate them and arrest the authors to face the law.

It is common trend for governments in Africa to shut down social media
platforms under the pretext of preventing reckless use of these networks during elections and other tensed moments. Ghana has been fortunate not to have experienced such disruptions and this is because of Ghanaians’ collective belief and confidence that all will use social media platforms responsibly.

Such aberrant and criminal conduct online as has been exhibited by these faceless individuals therefore threatens to erode this confidence and online freedom. It must therefore be condemned and punished.