News about the arrest of two radio panelists and subsequent investigations by National Security into threats against Judges is re-assuring.
The BNI needs to be highly commended for the bold steps taken to sanitize the airwaves as the political season heats up.
Minister of the Interior, Mr Prosper Bani, has said security agencies are on top of issues and, so, there was no cause for alarm. Government’s pledge to provide maximum security for all institutions of state and individuals as they carry out their duties without fear or hindrance is also re-assuring. The moves come in the wake of growing concern about the abuse of media platforms in recent times.
The trending issue follows alleged threats by Alistair Tairo Nelson, 41, a former member of the Progressive People's Party (PPP), and Godwin Ako Gunn, 39, on an Accra-based radio station, Muntie 100.1 FM, on June 29, 2016, to harm Supreme Court and High Court judges.
The two who have since been reportedly cooperating with the BNI turned themselves in at the offices of the BNI yesterday.
Ghana is at cross roads. The 2016 election is crucial. The media will continue to play a critical role. The public is keenly monitoring. Several workshops have been organized for Editors and hosts of talk show programmes. Just recently, IGP, COP John Kudalor met a section of them, and his response to how the Police will handle callous publications. Incitements especially on Election Day was misreported resulting on a huge public outcry and subtle threats even from respectable personalities and Civil Society groups.
Most media houses today are owned by politicians. Hosts have their own interests and they seem to set the agenda for public discourse.
There is no doubt that some journalists assume they are untouchables and use the platforms they have to threaten, undermine, malign, incite and destroy reputations built over years.
When Afia Pokua, popularly called ‘VIM LADY’ was attacked at an NHIS office in Accra, the Ghana Journalist Association jumped to her defense with a strong statement, yet GJA has been silent on her arrogance and attack on personalities even as high as the office of the President.
The public discourse and social media comments by some leading journalists give credence to the false assumption that the Fourth Estate of the Realm, is growing so much wings in the press freedom.
BNI’s intervention should serve as a strong signal but there is a fiat. National Security cannot pretend to be unaware of the threats by MP for Assin Central against security agencies on election days.
He has said it twice on separate platforms since January 2016. The ease at which they jumped at the two poor radio panelists suggest they have been influenced by public opinion engineered by the Ghana Bar Association and some opposition elements or it’s afraid of the MP who has been arrested before for related comments.
This cannot continue. National Security cannot pretend to be working. Ghana has barely five months to cross this danger zone and fairness is the game.
GJA President, Affail Monney on Monday told an Accra based radio station the security agencies must be allowed to do their work regarding the arrest of Alistair Tairo Nelson, and Godwin Ako Gunn. He also cautioned that those who fall foul of the law won’t be protected.
Those comments suggest selective justice. The GJA, the Editors forum and the likes have stopped short of condemning the barrage of insults hurled at the President for example on the numerous local stations in the name of phone-ins.
The National Media Commission has equally failed its mandate because sitting on the fence is equally as dangerous as perpetuating the act. The Act establishing NMC is clear. But the Commission seems handcuffed.
Interestingly, a cross section of the public including lawyers, the Clergy, Gender Advocates have also been sharply divided in opinion and assessment of issues along political lines. The ordinary Ghanaian does not know what intentions are really genuine because every gaffe now comes along with its own responses.
This article raises five key issues, the media platform and hosts, panelists and phone-ins, GJA and NMCs weakness, security and the law and the impact on the larger public.
Social media cannot also go without effective monitoring. The politicians are actively exploiting the space and their sympathizers have not been left out.
The governance Social Media Index-Ghana report released by Penplusbytes last Thursday indicates that President John Dramani Mahama ranks highest with 233,834 followers on Twitter, and 880,620 likes on Facebook as of June 8, 2016 followed by NPP’s Flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo with 94,034 followers on Twitter and 715,761 likes on facebook.
As the campaign picks up, the mischief will increase. How that is managed is another headache. BNI must sustain their resolve to sanitize the airwaves by keeping a close eye on the known media houses, organize workshops to alert them of their eagle eyes and boundaries that cannot be crossed and deal with those who break the law in future.
Ghana will not see violence. Those who have threatened mayhem on the back of their disagreement with the Electoral Commission can sleep, but we wait to see how similar cases are handled. The Supreme Court Judges are human as you and me. God bless Ghana.
Source: The Gazzette
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