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General News Sun, 25 Jul 2010

Akufo-Addo Published False Stories To Damage Political Opponents

Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency, Dr. Tony Aidoo, has alleged that Nana Akufo Addo, a flagbearer aspirant of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) used to publish false and disparaging newsitems about him and other personalities he does not share the same ideological beliefs with when he owned the “Statesman” newspaper.

According to Dr. Aidoo, the NPP’s presidential candidate in the 2008 general elections, literally hounded his political “enemies” with his newspaper.

“Nana Akufo Addo was writing false statements to damage his political opponents. I have facts and I know what I am talking about,” he alleged during a panel discussion on Radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji programme.

The former Attorney-General and former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP administration, re-established the “Statesman” newspaper on 14 May 1992, as the country prepared for the coming of the Fourth Republic and the return to multi-party democracy. He later became the Chairperson of Kinesec Communications Company Limited, publishers of the Statesman.

Dr. Tony Aidoo, who was commenting on the recent arrest and the intended prosecution of broadcast journalist, Ato Kwamena Dadzie, acting News Editor of JoyFM, for publicizing “false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public” under Section 208 of the Criminal Code 1960, stressed the need for journalists to exercise their rights in tandem with the required responsibilities.

“…journalists should understand that press freedom is nothing unique; it is just a qualified privilege that they (journalist) enjoy for being an agent through which the public gets access to information...It is one aspect of a democratic dispensation,” he stated.

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Mr. Dadzie had close to a week now, been interrogated at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) for a news story Joy FM aired that the Ghana Real Estate Developers’ Association (GREDA) withdrew its petition against the STX Housing Project from Parliament because of death threats on the lives of the association’s executives.

Soon after the story, a deputy Minister for Information, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, slammed Joy FM over the report and accused the station of causing fear and panic among the investor community.

This was followed by an invitation from the police and they have since been on the neck of the journalist just for him to reveal his source until he was charged last Monday, July 19th, for “causing public fear and panic”.

Dr. Aidoo pointed out that rights of the journalist are not absolute and “they cannot say anything without providing facts or evidence and seek to get away with it.”

He reminded journalists that though they have the right to publish or air any story of their choice, they “should ensure that it’s not damaging to other people’s reputation.”

Source: Rebecca Quaye/GIJ
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