Veteran journalist, Ben Ephson has defended the Speaker of Parliament over his threat to revoke the accreditation of the parliamentary press corps for choosing a minority presser over a debate in the House.“It is forbidden. If they have any doubt to abandon the permission given them to cover proceedings in this House and go outside the Chamber itself and do some other work…I want to let the media know. If that which is reported to have happened should happen again, I have reminded you of the fact that you are here as guests by my permission."
"Because of the importance, this House attaches to the MP profession, any such humiliation will make you an unwelcome guest and your welcome will be duly withdrawn,” Speaker Professor Mike Ocquaye warned.
The comment has attracted a deluge of criticism for the Speaker from some Ghanaians including journalism lecturer Nana Essilfie-Conduah who says the order was wrong.
“For a blanket threat would seem he is being partisan but he must remember that every one of them there is at the behest of the country and whether you have the power or the prerogative to, I do not think it is right for him to issue that threat and to carry through that threat. In fact, issuing that kind of threat is a worry and we don’t do things that way,” he told Starr News.
However, Mr. Ephson believes the priority of the media in the chamber should be on activities on the floor.
“I think that it was in the right direction. I think it was wrong for the press corps to leave the chamber to go and follow someone who has decided to abstain from proceedings. The minority took away their right to debate. The journalists could have spoken to the minority after the debate. I think my colleagues were wrong.
“We should stop being used as a rubber stamp when it’s time for their ex-gratia discussion don’t they throw the media out?” he told Francis Abban on the Morning Starr Thursday.