Post Graduate from University of Ghana-West Africa. I am a Public Health Advocate with interests in Tolerance, Quality Health, and Peace.
Attacking a Journalist is An Attack on Your Life: Say No to Attacks on Journalists!
By Benjamin Pulle Niriwa, 12.05.2021
The best triplets of fighting against corruption are the ability of a nation to expose, investigate and prosecute victims or make them account to corruption scandals to serve as a deterrent to others. This is made possible in a country where freedom of expression is respected and journalists are not harassed before, during and after their normal duties. Attacking someone that fights against corruption but claim to be addressing the problems of corruption is an exposé of, excuse me to say, hypocrisy and dirty corruption mentality. But corruption is one of the major obstacles that fights against the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, for sustainable peace.
TACKLING THE MAIN ISSUES
The best triplets of fighting against corruption are the ability of a nation to expose (Asomah, 2020; Schauseil, 2019; OECD., 2018), investigate (Asomah, 2020; OECD., 2018) and prosecute victims or make them account to corruption scandals (Vian, 2020; OECD. a. , 2010) as a warning. This is possible in a country that freedom of speech or expression is respected; and journalists are not harassed before, during and after their normal duties. No matter how hard a nation works, she can never be able to achieve the seventeen (17) SDGs (UN a., 2020; UN b., 2020) to help promote national and global peace, if there is no zeal to effectively deal with corruption.
To help readers better understand the situation, these issues are divided into sub headings: The Global Picture of Attacks on Journalists, Attacks on Journalists in Africa, The Situation in Ghana, and Are there Evidence-Based Corruption Mentalities in Ghana?
The Global Picture of Attacks on Journalists: Attacks on journalists is not only a problem of Ghana (Nyarko, 2017), but a global canker in all continents/nations; like in Europe (McGonagle, 2020), Asia (IPI., 2021), or Africa that must be avoided! Though the United States of America (USA) should have always been a shining example for most nations in the world because of her nature, Former President Trump is alleged to have referred to the media or press as the “Enemy of the people” (Offin-Amaniampong, 2021; Wemple, 2020; Smith, 2019).
Even if Former President Trump has not attacked any media personality, calling them enemies of “The people” (BBC b. , 2018) is an indirect call for attack on journalists. Eastern and Central Europe have reported increased harassments of journalists by government that tries to cover up some COVID-19-related issues (Speier, 2021). Even before COVID-19 reared its ugly head to smile at the world, there have been a decline in “Media freedom” globally (Arrouas, 2014).
The US having an African descend as their President for two terms needs to be recommended for an excellent example of “tolerance” (Verkuyten, 2020; Hu, 2018), which Africa and the rest of the world must emulate! Our ability to tolerate others will also help us to avoid attacking them and use legal process. The situations surrounding your birth or that of your ancestors, must not be an obstacle to who you should become in future.
This must go with our mentality of trying to make the world a better place for everyone, but NOT to promote “superiority” or “inferiority” (Dunn et al., 2018) in human relationships. Though superior treatments are preferred for quality health care delivery (Angeli et al., 2020), superiority and inferiority complex lead to discrimination or stigma which are twin public health problems (Brouwers, 2020; Parker, 2012). They are obstacles of national and global peace!
This could also influence why some specific journalists might be attacked at the expense of others who report on similar issues, since superiority/inferiority complex has let to similar treatments in the US (Smiley, 2016). There is evidence of bias in “Professionalism” in the US (Gray, 2019) that supports my hypothesis that: “Superiority and inferiority complex could influence why specific journalists might be attacked at the expense of others on similar issues”.
There is also reports of discrimination against female journalists (Harrison, 2020; Unfpa.org., 2020; Lourenço, 2016) which could be linked to the false impression of gender superiority (Xie, 1994; Sanchez-Craig, 1991). The re-emerging evidence of police brutalizing “blacks” (Alang et al., 2017) in the United States is another issue that can be linked not only to racism, but superiority; which could be applicable to journalists too. As the world promotes freedom of expression and fights against attack on anyone, like a Journalist, who expresses himself or herself (Howie, 2017), we must not also indirectly promote fake news or character assassination through that.
Attack on Journalists in Africa: One of the richest continents in the world is undoubtedly Africa, which is rich in both natural and human resources (Izvorski, 2018; Aljazeera., 2018). In terms of human resources, people of African origin in some continents of the world are doing excellently and performing wonders that help in the development of those continents or nations. An excellent example is how Barrack Obama (whose origin is from Kenya) has been able to ascend into the highest throne or presidency of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America (USA) for two terms or eight (8) years (Biography.com, 2014; Steinbrook, 2012; Skinner, 2012).
Yet most nations in Africa are not counted amongst developed nations of the world (Staff, 2021; WPR., 2021; UN U. N., 2020)! One of the major problems responsible for this is the global mentality in fighting against not only corruption, but political violence (Adamson, 2021), religious violence (Takyi, 2020), and other social issues (Nur, 1999) that affect everyone; as seen in (Thiede, 2020). One of the ways this mentality is also exposed is the increasing attacks on journalists in the continent despite COVID-19 pandemic transmission (Ilkka, 2020).
The Situation in Ghana: Increasing Threats and Attacks on Journalists Worrying!
If his Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo usually support his excellent speeches with his “actions or inactions” (Niriwa a., 2020), it would help promote not only peace in Ghana but globally, but it is not so. He gives an excellent speech at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) where he says, that: “… knowledge has never been a gift granted exclusively to one group. We must listen and hear each other more” (Graphic.com.gh., 2021).
This is a speech that could promotes Freedom of expression not only in Ghana, but globally; peace lovers around the world would definitely welcomed speeches like this! But one would shudders to ask, why speaks excellently, but behave contrary to that at the same time? To say that people should be encouraged to freely express themselves to facilitate learning, and at the same times attacking a radio station for letting citizens share their views on the implemented Free SHS in Ghana, tagging the station as campaigning against free SHS (Emmanuel a., 2021; Graphic.com.gh., 2021) is bizarre.
Example, vigilantism (Appiah-Nyamekye, 2018) is gradually introducing lawlessness in Ghana (Ashiabi, 2021; Guide, 2021). The President promises to end this, by calling major political parties to disband them (Tetteh, 2019; Prince, 2019; Essel, 2019; Jafaru, 2019). Yet when Manasseh Azure exposes the training of a secrete militia group “De-Eye Group” at the Former Seat of Government, the Information Minister still tries to undermine it (Editorial 01, 2019). This is a serious exposé of (excuse me to say) not just hypocrisy or dirty political mentality corruption, but a confirmation of how the Ghanaian journalist is attacked even for doing an excellent job that would benefit the whole nation and the world.
There is nothing that promotes corruption on earth than to fight against those that fight against corruption (Fig. 1; Nordzi, 2021), like in the case of Anas Aremeyaw Anas (Grimes, 2020; Admin, 2018), Manasseh A. Azurey (Provencal, 2019; WEB, 2019), and others. This is the biggest mentality that puts fear ‘or creates culture of silence’ (Awuni, 2021) in people with the zeal or desire to stand up against corruption. The first step of solving a problem is to accept that, that particular problem really exists!
Figure 1: The Mentality That Fights against Corruption Must Not Be Dangerously Corrupt
NPP claims to disband vigilantism (Starrfm.com.gh., 2019), but recruits them into various National Security Services; like the police (Nettey, 2019) within a short time. Is the President aware that these vigilantes are recruited? Yet, Manasseh was indirectly chased out of Ghana with threats of death (Provencal, 2019; WEB, 2019). The President addressing African Journalists Leaders’ Conference this month, gave an excellent speech, but he makes ambiguous and unhonest statements respectively that, “It can not be right … that journalists are physically attacked …” and that he prefers: “A boisterous, even reckless media to a sparing one”. (3news.com., 2021).
To claim that criticizing journalists is not attacking them is also misleading (Classfmonline., 2021) since they are really attacked but not only criticized. He fails to act when serious issues like that happened under his watch. It exposes dirty political mentality corruption! He should have condemned physical molesting of Citi FM/TV journalists (Siaw, 2021; GH_LocalNews., 2021). Where is President Akufo-Addo when Manasseh Azure is threatened with death (Provencal, 2019)? This same journalist says that threats on journalists are not dealt with (Myjoyonline., 2020): a serious unpleasant exposé for all peace loving persons! Where is the President when another National asset, Ahmed Hussein-Suale, is murdered in a broad daylight (Grunter, 2019)?
Most experts (both local and international) have always being undoubtedly praising Ghana for her democratic resilience! Unfortunately, experts worried about the current democracy as they query, in doubt, her “Democratic credentials” (GBC., 2021). Some of these experts may sometimes also play international politics, current happenings in the country especially before (Apinga, 2020; Wemakor, 2020; Andaban, 2019), during (Asaah, 2021; Koinonia., 2020), and after (Editor., 2020; Nartey, 2021) the 2020 General Elections vindicate them as not playing politics!
The situation of Ghana under President Akufo-Addo’s administration are evidence that prove that they are not just playing politics! Most supporters of the party suddenly “seems” to be intolerance (Ghanaweb.com., 2021; Asmah, 2014; Kennedy, 2014) and are always quick to attack opponents (Effah, 2019; Ultimatefmonline.com., 2016), unlike during His Excellency Former President John Agyekum Kufour’s Administration of the same party. This alone should tell you that something has gone wrong! A man of God storming a radio station with gunmen to kill (Starr, 2019; Mensah, 2019)? A TV3 journalist is both emotionally and physically attacked too (BBC a. , 2018).
There have been increased attacks of media personalities or journalists (Nyobe, 2020; Gyesi, 2021) as well as anyone like Mzbel (Aryee, 2019) who tries to genuinely criticize the government, as: in the cases of Ohemaa Sekyiwaa, popularly known as the “onion seller” (BBC a. , 2018); Anas Aremeyaw Anas (Grunter, 2019); Manasseh Azure (Operanews., 2021; Provencal, 2019; Myjoyonline., 2020); Bridget Otoo (Ghanaweb.com. c. , 2020); Blakk Rasta (Ghansah, 2021); Kwesi Pratt Jnr. (MyNewsGhana.net., 2021; Trustedeye., 2021), and so on. Even Former President Mahama is attacked, as he expresses his displeasures about the Ayawaso West Wuogon’s Bye-Election violence to “some diplomats” (Ibrahim, 2019). That is promotion of culture of silence!
The regime of His Excellency Former President Kufour, an NPP’s regime, was very tolerant, because the leader (a humble gentleman) tolerates criticisms. Evidence of this could be seen in the way he is heavily criticized with no one being attacked for that (Ghanaweb, 2019; Pulse.com., 2017; Deborah, 2013). These are some of the reasons why some experts lament that: “Hypocrisy Has Brought Culture of Silence Back to Ghana” (Awuni, 2021; Azar, 2021).
The Supreme Court of Ghana asking journalists to recycled or removed published documents on the hearing of 2020 Elections’ Petition as being contempt in nature or alleged to be undermining the Supreme Court’s duty (MyNewsGH., 2021) was an issues of culture of silence. This is particularly because no published article, story, opinions, new and so on is pointed out as being contemptuous in nature. The straw breaking the camel’s back, is the threat that refusal to do as directed would bring “the wrath of the Judicial Service” on such Journalists (MyNewsGH., 2021).
The Chief Justice, Anim-Yeboah’s anger against the Former Attorney General, Dr. Ayine for sharing his opinion on the 2020 Elections’ Petition (Adagom, 2021) is an issues that can create dirty political mentality amongst politicians. This is revealed by unpleasant reactions from the major opposition party referring him to similar conducts (Antwi, 2021).
A senior journalist is right to debunk on live radio program (Peace FM) that there is no culture of silence in Ghana (GhanaWeb b. , 2021); but what does it means if a journalist does his/her work and the next minutes he/she is attacked? In that same month, May, 2021 a media house is invaded to arrest a journalist for filming the “National Security Ministry Building” (MFWA, 2021). This happened just three (3) days after a journalist of Pent TV, Peter Tabiri, is beaten by the security officers for reporting their invasion of a casino to a third person on phone.
When Joy radio station hosted a program to allow some citizens to express their feelings about the Free Senior High School (Free SHS), the President again describes the station as campaigning against Free SHS (Emmanuel a., 2021; Graphic.com.gh., 2021). The President surprisingly reacting to those who are worried about increased culture of silent in the country; without condemning the increased attacks and threats on journalists, was itself a promotion of culture of silence! Government retaliating when Ghanaians were complaining of irregular power supply, “Dumsor” by calling on government to “Fix the country” (Admin b. , 2021) is a similar one.
In the recent attack, “assault”, and arrest of Citi FM Journalist, Mr. Caleb Kudah as well as harassment of his co-worker (Ms. Zoe Abu-Baidoo), some State Security Officers were used (MFWA, 2021; Ghanaweb.com a. , 2021; Class, 2021) again! Meanwhile, the availability of Deputy Superintendent of Police Samuel Kojo Azugu in the National Security of Ghana violates what the Justice Emile Short’s Committee recommended in their investigation of the Ayawaso West Wougon Bye-Election violence (Ghanaweb.com a. , 2021; Class, 2021; Emmanuel b., 2019).
Are There Evidence-Based Corruption Mentalities in Ghana?
The President boasts that he is not corrupt (Amoh, 2015), but leaving politics aside, his government is the most corrupt in the history of Ghana’s Fourth Republic as seen in (MyJoyOnline., 2020; Addo b., 2020; Herald., 2020). Evidence of this can be confirmed by “The over a hundred and fifty of alleged incidents of corruption or perceptions of corruption” (Ametor-Quarmyne, 2020) or the over sixty (60) corruption scandals within just two years (Nangegbe, 2018).
There are more corruption scandals under his regime than the former NDC’s own (Nangegbe, 2018); some writers still try to create a false picture that the former is rather more corrupt than the latter (Adofo, 2020). Tagging Former President Mahama for forming a “family and friends’ government” (GhanaWeb a. , 2019; Mornah, 2018; Abronye, 2018); is one of the strongest campaign tool of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), aside their manifesto (NPP, 2016). President Akufo-Addo’s government, especially at the initial stages, was plagued with increased corruptions; and it could be because of the many families and friends in his government (Nangegbe, 2018).
Yet, most of these writers (Okoampa-Ahoofe, 2021; Adofo, 2020) always focus on only Former President Mahama’s government with 8 corruption scandals (Yen., 2016) without making mention of even a single corruption scandal out of the over 60 corruption scandals (Nangegbe, 2018) that were pouring in like rain water under his government. There are even still corruptions scandals (MyNewsGH.com., 2021) dancing out one by one! Criticisms like: “Akufo-Addo teaching Mahama how to run a proper ‘family and friends’ gov’t” (Offei-Akoto, 2020), and the great difference in the number of 51 families and friends in President Akufo-Addo’s government (BBC., 2019) as compared to 8 where only “one” is really a family member of Former President Mahama (Ansah & Kanarkul, 2019), exposes politics of lies and deception in Ghana’s politics.
Based on the falsely tagged family and friends’ government of Former President Mahama, President Akufo-Addo promises Ghanaians that he would not form a “Family and Friends’ Government” (Nangegbe, 2018; Adomonline.com., 2016; Emmanuel, 2016); but he forms the largest families and friends’ government (Nangegbe, 2018) in the history of Ghana’s fourth republic. It is also more corrupt than exaggerated against Former President Mahama!
The exposé of political mentality corruption here is that; some NPP members (Mornah, 2018) including the President (Nangegbe, 2018; aL-hAJJ., 2017), excuse me to say were very loud about the NDC’s falsely tagged family and friends’ NDC’s government. They never mentioned anywhere that his “Family and friends” were not qualified: neither have they provided any evident on that. The originator of the falsely tagged “Family and friends’ government” (Asamoah A. , 2019) of the Former President did not also talk of qualification or competence.
But, they are rather defending an evidenced-based large family and friends’ government as exposed by the President’s appointments (Kumsah, 2017; aL-hAJJ., 2017), the NDC (BBC., 2019) and their flag bearer (Ansah, 2019). Even the President’s own biological daughter is part of these families and friends appointed (aL-hAJJ., 2017)!
President Akufo-Addo’s “Family and friends’ government” is exposed by defensive comparison that: “The reason why Former President John Mahama could not appoint his family into government, as President Akufo-Addo has famously done, is because, between the two families, one has more educated members who qualify to serve in government under their ‘family and friends’ government.” (Addo, 2018). Using this comparison, Former President really did not form family and friends’ government like the latter; it was falsely tagged for political points!
So, the question every neutral person would like to ask, is: “Are there no qualified or trusted persons in the NPP and Ghana, except the President and his family”? Looking at these appointments (Sokpe, 2019), it is obvious that the President did not eat his words as he pledges in January 2016, saying: “I can assure that every person in the country will have his fair share of the national cake” (aL-hAJJ., 2017; Emmanuel, 2016; Adomonline.com., 2016).
This alone is another exposé of dirty “Political mentality corruption” (Niriwa, 2021), as all those like the (Right. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Bagbin) who severely criticized the Former President on this are all silent (Myjoyonline. a. , 2013; Asamoah A. , 2019). In some examples, the Presidents’ cousins alone are seven ‘7’ (Sokpe, 2019), unlike in the case of the Former President where only one (1) of his blood relatives is really appointed (Ansah, 2019). But, President Akufo-Addo’s statement: “My Wife Won’t Distribute Contracts” (Adomonline.com., 2016; Emmanuel, 2016) is a positive mentality in fighting corruption for politicians globally.
Another exposé of bad corruption mentality, excuse me to say, is President Akufo-Addo’s “Actions or inactions” (Niriwa a., 2020)! Though there are evidence out there as seen in the comparison above that confirms his “Family and friends’ government (Addo, 2018; aL-hAJJ., 2017), he still denies it and boast that he is: “Not running a family and friends’ government” (Starrfmonline.com., 2019). The best thing he should have done as an “honest person” (Adofo, 2020), is to apologize to Ghanaians for emphatically promising not to form family and friends’ government (Sokpe, 2019); but forms the largest one in the history of Ghana’s fourth republic.
To still defend it and boasts is tantamount to insulting Ghanaians’ intelligence, though the facts are there! With respect to his cousin, the Finance Minister, he says that he handles the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Fund Raising Competently to provide financial support for the party “But then nobody saw anything bad about it” (Starrfmonline.com., 2019). He added: “I am sure it is not difficult for someone who raised funds for the party to transition or transform decisions to boost the economy as a finance minister,” No one disagrees with him on that, but if he has failed to keep his own promise; why is he still trying to justify it? What did he says about the other appointees?
He told Ghanaians that he is honest and does not lie or promise only for votes (Starrfmonline.com, 2016)? Based on this he is a born politician, but not a born ruler or a manager? His lips are really very sweet and full of sugar coated words (Ghanaweb.com, 2020)! Even if you are a very strong opponent and you listen to him; you might vote for him regret (Blackson, 2021). He should have apologized for this family and friends’ government and other failed promises of his government; contrary to his emphasis that he is not the type that makes vain promises, but achievable ones (Starrfmonline.com, 2016).
This reason is why it looks as if some citizens have lost trust in him as exposed by: “Why Should We Believe Akufo-Addo’s Promises?” (Ankomah, 2020). How he handles public institutions in the country that are supposed to be independent and without political interference or influence is an exposé of political mentality corruption! There is a situation where even most Public Universities, for the first time, are lamenting of political interference gradually introducing “culture of silence” into the academia too (Nsoh, 2021).
Public institutions like the Security Services (Ametor-Quarmyne a., 2020; Nettey, 2019), the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana (Ametor-Quarmyne a., 2020; Kpodo, 2018; Alfa Shaban, 2018; aL-hAJJ a., 2017), the Auditor General Office (Citinews., 2021; Lartey, 2021; Fiifitvgh., 2020; News_3654., 2021) and so on suffered political interferences which created mistrust. Example, the recruitment of vigilante groups into various State’s Security Services (Ametor-Quarmyne a., 2020; Nettey, 2019) could be the reason why some police officers are discriminatory (Mbote, 2020; McClurg, 2019) as exposed by Caleb Kudah (Ayamga, 2021; Siaw a., 2021; CPJ., 2021). This is an issue of “mistrust”, as exposed by Hon. Asiedu Nketiah (Quansah, 2019)!
For details, read: “Is There Any Issue of Mistrust or Culture of Silence In the 2020 Elections Petition?” by the same author.
The NDC government was severely criticized for being corrupt but when there are more corruption scandals under NPP, most of them are silent. This is a dirty political mentality that cannot help any nation to fight against corruption, it rather promotes it! It is important that preachers or religious leaders, politicians, researchers, writers or Journalists say nothing but the truth and avoid fake news or saying things that are not true about others. Example, it is reported that a newspaper (Daily Guide) has spread falsehoods about Hon. Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, the National General Secretary of NDC, that he has acquired “multiple properties in Accra and Kumasi” for which he sues that media (House, 2013). If it is true that he did not buy those properties as claimed by the Newspaper, that action taken by him cannot be described as an attack on the media or Journalist.
If I seem to criticize the government it is not because I hate NPP, I have never hated any political party and I will NEVER HATE any political party! Ghana or the world is bigger than any political party: human’s life is precious than any political party! It is nothing but to help promote peace by pointing out our mistakes that need redress. Thank you for Reading!
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