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Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has refuted allegations by Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo Prampram, Sam George, that the National Communications Authority (NCA) is perpetuating an illegality in its decision to impose fines and close down media houses that failed to renew their licenses.
According to Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, the sanctions by the NCA are justified. Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, who appeared before Parliament to justify the action of the NCA on Thursday, October 19 said: “The 2015 sanctions merely imposed a ceiling on the fines, we should be grateful for that [because] the fines could have gone higher without that cap.”
The Minister said the “Public Accounts Committee is Chaired by the Minority and so it is indeed strange that members of the Minority are now questioning why the NCA will obey the expressed wishes of the Public Accounts Committee”.
She said she is permitted by law to review the sanctions, and she has “received some petitions on this matter and they will be reviewed on a case by case basis”.
Contributing to discussions on the actions of the NCA, Mr Sam George further accused President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the NCA of seeking to monetise free speech.
“The NCA, in imposing this kind of charge, did not come before this august house of Parliament, and as such, the NCA is carrying out and perpetuating illegality which this house must stop,” he stated.
According to him, the schedule of penalties which the NCA is using to impose the fines on the media houses was gazzatted on 25 April 2015, and therefore, Parliament needed to approve any fees and charges imposed on media houses.
Mr Sam George had asserted that: “All five Presidents of this Fourth Republic, including our current President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have all played a role in the entrenchment of the freedom of speech in this country. Under Jerry John Rawlings as President, we saw the opening up and the pluralisation of the media space in this country. President Kufuor came and entrenched the pluralisation of the media. President Mills continued and President Mahama did same. President Akufo-Addo, then as a lawyer, was one of the people who actually led for the pluralisation of media space in the Radio Eye space where he was counsel for Dr Charles Woreko Brobbey when the current President, as a lawyer, went to ensure that media plurality is entrenched in our law books. If post his position as a lawyer, today, the President has taken a position that we should monetise free speech, it cannot be said to be retrospective...”
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