General News Sun, 5 May 2019

Dr Apaak jabs Akufo-Addo, says press freedom diminishing under his government

President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government has been heavily criticised for making Ghana lose its status as Africa’s best-ranked country in the World Press Freedom Index.

Dr Clement Apaak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South, who described the state of media freedom in Ghana as terrible, blamed Nana Akufo-Addo for the unfortunate development.

Ghana’s ranking on press freedom in Africa reduced to 3rd this year, from 1st last year.

The country was also ranked 27th in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index report, as against 23rd last year.

The report which was prepared by Reporters Without Borders cited the murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale as a major blow to the country’s press freedom.

Suale, a journalist with the Tiger Eye P.I, was shot dead earlier this year at Madina while on his way home. Prior to his gruesome murder, Suale was threatened by New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP Kennedy Agyapong.

Other journalists who were assaulted and reported to the police in the last few years have not been served justice yet – a situation some Ghanaians have described as a serious threat to press freedom.

But commenting on press freedom in an interview with Kwame Minkah, host of Ete Sen on Radio XYZ, Dr Apaak blamed president Akufo-Addo for the recent slump in media freedom.

“Our President, Nana Akufo-Addo, is being extolled for repealing the criminal libel law [in 2001], but today he’s not been able to protect journalists. Journalists are being abused but he’s kept quiet,” said Dr Apaak, a former media practitioner.

Describing how press freedom has been under siege in the past few years under this government, Dr Apaak recounted how President Akufo-Addo’s ‘spiritual father’, Prophet Owusu- Bempah, angrily stormed the premises of Radio XYZ with ‘macho men’ few months ago ostensibly to attack Mugabe Maase, a broadcaster of the East Legon-based radio station over some comments he [Owusu-Bempah] claimed were made to ridicule him.

“This man of God [Owusu-Bempah] is walking freely after taking the laws into his hands but a journalist (Mugabe Maase) is in court and being frustrated for doing his work…these are some of the issues that are wiping away the press freedom our journalists used to enjoy some years back,” the former presidential staffer told host Kwame Minkah in Akan.

Last week, the Bolgatanga residence of Edward Adeti, Starr FM’s Upper East correspondent was broken into three days after his investigation led to the resignation of a Minister of State, Rockson Ayine Bukari.

Adeti had reported about Mr. Bukari’s attempt to get him to kill an investigative story about a Chinese mining company, Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited, and a senior judge in the Upper East region, Justice Jacob B. Boon.

Mr Bukari resigned few days after the journalist produced a voice clip implicating how he (Bukari) had tried to bribe him with GHS 5,000 and a motorcycle to drop the undercover report.

But Dr Apaak, who hails from the region, said the journalist’s life was in danger for doing what was right yet the government had done nothing to protect Adeti’s life.

He added that although president Akufo-Addo is responsible for the repeal of the criminal libel law he has done nothing to protect journalists in the country unlike during the tenure of the erstwhile NDC administration.

Ghana’s worst performance on press freedom was in 2013 when it ranked 30.The country’s best ranking was in 2015 when placed 22.

In 2014 Ghana had 27 and made it to the 26 spot in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Source: XYZ