The Communications Director for the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) has chastised the Akufo-Addo government over the closure of Radio XYZ and other radio stations in the country over license-related issues.
Paa Kow Ackon who was speaking on Power 97.9 FM’s breakfast show, Dwaboase, noted the action by the National Communications Authority (NCA) amounts to suppression of press freedom, stressing the regulator could have chosen a different way to address the matter.
Radio XYZ and Radio Gold were closed down on May 9, 2019, by NCA and state security operatives armed to the teeth at a time both stations were broadcasting live a press conference by the opposition NDC Council of Elders to protest the suspected intimidation and harassment of their National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo.
The NCA has since closed some other radio stations in the Central, Volta, Ahafo, Western and Bono regions for ‘authorization breaches’-sparking a national debate over the legitimacy of the NCA’s action.
A pressure and media advocacy group, Free Media vanguard (FMV) is fronting for justice for the affected media houses, and has vowed not to relent until the government-controlled NCA rescinds its harsh decision.
Among series of activities, the FMV led by its lead advocate Shayaw Deen and convener Prince Minkah will stage a protest to fight for the rights of the affected radio stations.
Commending the initiative of the FMV, Paa Kow Ackon bemoaned the sudden nosedive of press freedom in the country and blamed the government for aiding it. He also kicked against the conspicuous “witch hunting” spree the government has launched against media houses aligned to the opposition parties.
“I know people who work at Radio XYZ and are not members of the NDC. You can’t say they are NDC members and target them in that manner. In the same way, you can’t say because Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom owns GN Bank, it means all the employees working for the bank are members of the PPP. No, there are some who are NDC and NPP members,” Ackon said as he condemned the government for taking an action that will render hundreds of Ghanaians jobless.
Wondering why the government will chase pro-opposition radio stations in an era press freedom is supposed to advance in a democratic country like Ghana, the PPP spokesman said, “If the media house or a radio station flouts the law, you the regulator should not be seen collapsing their business. There are other channels you can adopt to resolve the issue and prevent people from losing their sources of livelihood.”
Mr. Ackon went on to state that “everybody owes; even the government that owes a lot has not been collapsed by its creditors, so why shut down a radio station for owing while you can use other means to resolve the issue?
March For Free Expression
The Free Media Vanguards (FMV) and its allies will demonstrate in Accra on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, against the closure of the stations.
The protest dubbed “March for Free Expression“, which is being organized by the FMV is to kick against the closure of pro-NDC radio stations — Radio Gold and Radio XYZ — which the FMV has described as the suppression of press freedom.
According to the organizers, protestors will converge at the El Wak Sports Stadium in Accra by 7 am and march through 37 to the headquarters of the National Communications Authority at Airport City.
“We are expecting about 2,000 people to join us march against the decision of the government to get the stations closed without any dialogue,” FMV convener Prince Minkah said.
The FMV says the support base of the protest stems from believers of press freedom majority of whom are listeners of the radio stations closed down and other institutions such as the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), Amnesty International, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the opposition NDC, the European Union, and the diplomatic community.
A statement signed by Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu on Sunday announcing their support for FMV’s demonstration said the closure of the radio stations by the government has created ” a climate of fear, impunity and arbitrariness” in the country which ” requires an unwavering and formidable resistance from all those who believe in true democracy and constitutionalism.”
The minority holds that the fundamental human rights of free speech and the freedom and independence of the media as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana must be safeguarded and stressed, “the Minority will join progressive forces to ensure that this sinister but determined erosion of our constitutional rights by the Akufo-Addo administration is defeated.”
The statement continued, “The Minority decries the current situation where journalists such as Manasseh Azuri Awuni and Edward Adeti are on the run due to threats on their lives just because they did stories critical of the Akufo-Addo Government. The unresolved assassination of Ahmed Hussein-Suale after an NPP MP exposed his identity and the increasing cases of attacks on journalists which all culminated in Ghana losing its number one place as the freest country for the media in Africa and dropping on the World Press Freedom Index requires that all well-meaning Ghanaians rise up to demand an end to this creeping dictatorship.”
“We are shocked that under a President who styles himself as a human rights champion and one who appeared before our courts in Republic versus Independent Media Corporation of Ghana and Others [1996-97] SCGLR 258 and New Patriotic Party versus Ghana Broadcasting Corporation [1993-94] 2 GLR 354-393 where he argued in a sharp contrast against the very things he and his political appointees at the NCA are currently and unabashedly engaged in,” the Minority Leader added.