Opinions Tue, 15 May 2018

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Opana writes: Hypocrisy of GJA is killing journalism

The usual hypocrisy of the umbrella union of the inky fraternity in Ghana, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the entire nation has been brought to bear again, this time, after Hajia Fati, a known New Patriotic Party (NPP) member, slapped Adom FM’s newscaster, Ohemaa Sakyiwaa Ahwenepa, for carrying out her lawful duties as a journalist.

Moments after the unprovoked and unwarranted assault, which the perpetrator has admitted, the media landscape was swashed with condemnations and calls for the arrest and prosecution of Hajia Fati.

The ruling NPP, the party whose member carried on such barbaric act, condemned the attack 72-hours after, but not without pressure from well meaning Ghanaians and some political parties such as the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The worst part and what broke my heart for Ohemaa Sakyiwaa Ahwenepa was the comment by Hajia Fati after the slap; that she (Ohemaa) ‘the Adom FM reporter looked like onion seller’.

Seriously; that is nonsense. That is irrational. That is inhumane. Assuming without admitting that Ohemaa Sakyiwaa Ahwenepa was an onion seller, must she be slapped? Does that mean Hajia Fati does not know that the NPP is a national party and for that matter, every Ghanaian, including onion sellers and even opposition political parties have a say in it?

I don’t segregate or speak ill of people when it comes to personalities. I respect everybody. I respect every profession, but forgive me to ask and with all due respect to our onion sellers; between Ohemaa Sakyiwaa Ahwenepa and Hajia Fati, who looks like an onion seller, if one deserves to be slapped? Or is it the case that because the NPP is in power; Hajia Fati has put on airs and can therefore go about slapping people with impunity; obviously knowing very well that nothing can be done to her?

In fact, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) branded the NPP Headquarters, the scene of the attack, as “unsafe for journalists”. The Ghana Journalist Association has said the tough-talking Hajia Fati, an Akufo-Addo loyalist, “has a record of assault on journalists” so it is therefore weighing up legal option to ensure greater respect for journalists. Seriously? Will this be a civil action or a criminal action against her?

What a talk-shop and hypocrisy by the Association. Because they [leaders of such associations] have not been inflicted with such barbaric acts personally before, they sit in the comfort of their offices and speak big English whenever their members are attacked or assaulted.

I don’t really wish this for any of them but one day, if they also taste a slap from an angered political party member or a security officer, they will appreciate the savagery of such acts and think twice and move beyond the cheap talk.

Instead of the GJA taking action and confronting the issues head on, they have adopted the talk-shop attitude and that is exactly what is going to happen to the case involving, Ohemaa Sakyiwaa Ahwenepa. They will be ‘singing and dancing’ around the matter and absolutely nothing will happen to the culprit.

I say this because, this is not the first time a journalist has been assaulted either by the police, military, political party activists, mobs, among others; yet nothing serious has been done so far to serve as deterrence to perpetrators and assurance to victims and journalists in general.

The GJA and other organizations issue statements with ‘big English’ to condemn the barbaric acts but the pains are felt by the victim which can hunt then forever in their career.

Clearly in this country if you are not the son, daughter, nephew of niece of a ‘big man’ or ‘big woman’, then forget ever obtaining justice when you are assaulted or affected by the actions borne out of impunity of some self-claimed 'important personalities'. There is so much hopelessness in enforcing the rights of individuals and seeking redress for victims of acts of impunity.

People in authority, more than half the time turn deaf ears to the plight of victims and the sad part is when they blatantly lie to cover up for perpetrators of such impunity. It is sad but that’s the hard truth.

The Ghana Police actually announced in a press conference that they could not identify from their rank and file, the policemen who assulted Latif Iddrisu, another journalist from the Multimedia Group. Well, perhaps they were some strangers in police uniform.

Our leaders have become adamant and insensitive to the security and protection of the ordinary people in society. The ordinary person has become even more vulnerable to the injustices of those in authority. We have laws and procedures to bring offenders to book but it appears they are only activated for victims who know people in ‘big places’.

As for the law working to actualize equality before the law and due process; it’s a discussion for another day. But until anything sensible is done to forestall such acts of impunity and injustice; me Opana, all I will say is; if you are an ordinary person like me then just stay safe and avoid finding yourself in any form of exchanges with our ‘people in authority’…else you will ‘chop’ some slaps and nobody will do ‘foko’. You may probably have to nurse your wounds and pains till next election year to enjoy some recycled sympathies and lies. But for now, these are not the priorities of the Ministers and Officials. This is Ghana!

Columnist: Prime News Ghana

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