“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice”....Unknown
When Martin Luther King Junior, an American clergyman and civil rights leader, was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, it wasn’t because he was leading a rebel or terrorist group, but it was because he was leading a civil rights movement to seek for their voices to be heard and their civil rights respected.
Several other revolutions that swept the West and Europe in the early days of democratization came on the heels of suppression of human rights and fettered control of the voices of the proletariat. Most of these were bloody movements because people died for others to have their voices in future. Like Obama asserted...” the walk to democracy has never been a seamless process”.
The story around the unfortunate arrest of Investigative Journalist and Editor of Whatsup News, David Tamakloe comes to add up to the pile of records of culture of silence as being executed by Akuffo-Addo; the intimidation of journalists, threats to press freedom and abuse of the rights to free speech among others in Ghana under a human rights lawyer as President.
David was arrested in his office by the Tesano Police in a Rambo-style as was directed by the powers that be. Unfortunately, the reasons given were that they were carrying out a bench warrant issued by a court in New Edubiasi town in the Ashanti Region. He was immediately sent to the Ashanti region and arraigned before court within 24 hours and was later granted bail by the court to reappear on the 22nd October 2020.
David’s only crime was that his news outlet reported a claim made by Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the NDC’s Director of Elections to the effect that, some people in New Edubiasi had ganged up against the Ewes and Northerners at the just ended voter registration exercise. This was a report after Mr Afriyie Ankrah had addressed the media, and unfortunately, David has to pay for reporting same.
Since assuming power in January 2017, not only has the country experienced the highest form of insecurity with indiscriminate murder of innocent citizens, but also an attack on free speech and a freeze on media freedom. It is as though the Criminal Libel Law has been reintroduced to censor content of media works and control, crush and kill dissent.
A human rights lawyer who rose to political fame on the oases of demonstrations and leading civil rights movements all through his political struggle has become a direct opposite of what the Ghanaian expected of him. A man who was supposed to have a soft spot for free speech and media pluralism has rather used the vagueness and ambiguities of the law not only to suppress media freedoms but to practically close down radio stations that he feels are not singing from his hymn book.
As if packing the courts and creating another extended handle of the executive out of it; collapse of the Banking Sector in order to take over; a covert attempt to take over the energy sector were not enough, he has succeeded in creating fear in the hearts of objective media men who are paid to do their simple job of informing and educating the unsuspecting Ghanaian. His last quarter of introduction of Culture of Silence has moved from the closedown of media stations to physically abusing their rights using the security and the controlled courts.
A President who boldly stated on a public platform that he was going to use the Anas principle to fight corruption, has now turned around to fight Anas when he employed same principles to uncover wrongdoing under his government. In fact, Anas has experienced worse abuse in his entire professional life under Akuffo-Addo. His life has been under the worse form of threat under Akuffo-Addo. His profession, image and integrity have seen a full-scale attack from Akuffo-Addo and his henchmen.
As a result of one of the biggest investigative piece Anas and his group, Tiger Eye PI have done (No. 12 corruption in GFA), one of the finest undercover journalists, Ahmed Suale lost his life. He was murdered after Akuffo-Addo’s friend and party financier, Kennedy Agyapong threatened his life, displayed his images on his TV station and ultimately went ahead to put a bounty on his head. Up until today, Justice hasn’t been served, and the mastermind of this murder walks about and threatening the lives of more people.
Unfortunately, Ghana has dropped four places in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index of the Reporters without Borders. The country's new position was largely attributable to insecurity and continuous threat on the lives of media practitioners in their line of duty. Ultimately Ghana lost its first position in Africa.
In Ghana today, just as David Tamakloe can’t go to work secured, same way Manasseh can’t walk freely without looking back to be sure if someone is not trailing him. Edward Adeti of Star FM can’t leave his house and come back from work to meet his room in same shape he left it because Akuffo-Addo’s boys will ransack it. Even Kofi Adomah of Angel FM can’t predict in a sports bet, because his accurate predictions will be met by police arrest and intimidation.
Ghana has not only become a police state ruled by a careless tyrant but an authoritarian regime which uses the silence part of the law to control the thoughts and entire lives of her citizens.
“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice”....Unknown.
By Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
(Loud Citizen from Laribanga)