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30.07.2021 Letter

Multimedia dragged to National Media Commission over Ejura violence

By Peter Antwi Boasiako
Multimedia dragged to National Media Commission over Ejura violence
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Mr Chairman, ensuing the alleged heinous murder of one Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, popularly known as Kaaka at Ejura in Ashanti region, we have keenly followed the happenings on the media landscape in Ghana on the matter, especially the vast commentaries surrounding the circumstance leading to his murder, the subsequent demonstration that ensued which was met with Police and Military joint control, the gunshots, injuries and deaths at Ejura Township in Ashanti region.

As you are aware, this unfortunate incident prompted the Commander in Chief of Ghana Armed Forces and President of Ghana, HE. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to instruct the Interior Minister, on 30th June 2021, to undertake a public inquiry into the incidences that occurred at Ejura. It is also quite refreshing to learn that the three-member Ministerial Committee set to probe the circumstances that led to the disturbances, resulting in the shootings and killing of two civilians and injuries of four others, has ended its public hearings and has submitted its findings and recommendations to the Minister.

However Mr Chairman, we have been extremely petrified and particularly concerned about what appeared to be unprofessional, deliberate misleading reportage and indiscreet publications by Joy FM and its reporter named Erastus Asare Donkor, who's situated at Luv FM in Kumasi, on the volatile situation which created distressing emotions, sudden overwhelming fear and fury at Ejura in which the resultant effect led to the violent demonstration and subsequent clash with the Police and Military joint control, culminating the shootings that killed two Ghanaians and left others with life-changing injuries at Ejura.

Reading the numerous publications on myjoyonline.com and watching the panel discussions directed on Joy TV programmes on the matter and juxtaposing same to other opinions expressed by others on other platforms, clearly depicted doubtless inclination that Joy FM’s misleading reportage and careless publications which suggested that Kaaka was actually attacked and killed at his home by politically motivated mob, immensely contributed to the overwhelming fury in Ejura Township and subsequently paved way for the unscrupulous political players to take advantage of situation to incite their members to embark on violent demonstration, leading to loss of lives and others permanently maimed.

We have therefore decided to exercise our patriotic responsibility as concerned Ghanaians, to bring these treacherous activities of Joy FM and Multimedia to the attention of the National Media Commission, to once again scrutinise and investigate their dangerous publications and insensitive reportage on the incidents at Ejura and apply the respective disciplinary sanctions if found defaulted of good journalistic standards, so as to save Ghana from their reprehensible reportage which could have the potential to plunge the whole country into chaos if stringent punitive measures are not considered to control their activities, vis-a-vis similar objectionable media play which led chaotic situations, civil wars in some of our neighbouring counties in Africa.

Mr Chairman, our petition is in recognition of the National Media Commission Act 1993 (Act 449), Section 2(1b) in pursuit of the provisions of Chapter 12 of Ghana's 1992 Constitution which enjoined the Commission among others, "to take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media."

Section 13(1) of Act 449, also encourages that, *"any person aggrieved by a publication or by the act or omission of any journalist, newspaper proprietor, a publisher or any person in respect of any publication in the media may lodge a complaint against the editor, publisher, proprietor or other person before the Commission."*

We are also cognisant of the recent memorandum of cooperation signed on 16th June 2021, between the National Media Commission (NMC) and the National Communications Authority (NCA) together with some stakeholders in the media industry to sanitise the airwaves, where it was explained that although the NCA had punitive powers, it did not have the power to regulate contents, whereas the NMC had regulatory powers but lacked the power to sanction defaulters.

We, therefore, hope that our petition finds a place within your powers to investigate and apply disciplinary sanction on Joy FM and Multimedia if found defaulted on the highest journalistic standard expected of them, in order to deeply sanitise the media to improve the journalism in Ghana.

We strongly believe that the hasty conclusion in Joy FM's disingenuous reportage and imprudent publications on Kaaka's loathsome murder as politically schemed due to the fact that he was a member of #FixTheCountry group and that, his public utterances were making the government unpopular, undoubtedly sent a frightfully shocking sensation across the nation and overwhelming unrestrained rage in the people of Ejura.

Mr Chairman, on Monday 28th June 2021, thus, a day before the violent demonstration at Ejura, Joy FM published a bold treacherous headline on myjoyonline.com that: "Activist Dies In Ejura After Mob attack" Link: https://www.myjoyonline.com/activist-dies-in-ejura-after-mob-attack/

In the said reportage Mr Chairman, Joy FM explained that "The deceased was attacked by two assailants yet to be arrested by the police". However, this was found in the same reportage in which they have already given bold rubric which clearly suggested that the said activist was actually killed in Ejura politically influenced mob. We deem this “two” alleged assailants been described as a "mob' extremely misleading and shockingly disingenuous. Indeed, even if it was true that the two people carried out the attacked on Kaaka as Joy FM averred, how could the two be described as a mob and were politically motivated as they wanted the world to believe?

This in our view, Mr Chairman, was a misleading reportage hyped to sustain the heightened tension at Ejura following Kaaka’s heinous murder and subsequently led to the violent demonstration and further loss of lives.

The question is, if Joy FM was so certain about the number of persons who carried out the attack on Kaaka, why then give misleading liturgical rubric that the Activist was killed in Ejura after the mob attack? The mob from where?

In fact, a simple dictionary definition of a 'Mob' states "A large crowd of people, masses, a multitude of people, criminal gang, or crowd of people bent on or engaged in lawless violence, or riotous crowd, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence.”

In our view, that unfortunate and indiscreet headline did not in any way, whatsoever, illustrate the highest journalistic standard expected of Joy FM, the media house that prides itself as Ghana's most comprehensive news outlet, claiming to be the most credible, fearless and providing independent journalism, but frankly and honestly, Joy FM is proving to full of lies, sensationalism, treacherousness, and they appears to take delight in creating unnecessary tension in the country considering some of their previous careless reportage, imprudent publications and apologies they’ve rendered as few listed below. Mr Chairman, this must be checked.

Mr Chairman, Joy FM was so emphatic in their publication that "Kaaka's family and friends were mourning the death of a man they believe was only calling for a better life for his people". All these emphasis by Joy FM to point to fact that Kaaka was killed by his political opponents rather than any other person, as we now know that he was actually killed by his own brother home, fueled that chaotic situation at Ejura, and we are of the strong view that the situation would never have been deteriorated into such violence and further deaths if Joy FM had been quite judicious, reasonable and unostentatious with their publications on the matter.

We strongly believe that the media in Ghana must be responsible with good sense of judgment, Joy FM included, and they must not be allowed to hide behind Press Freedom and take liberty to perpetrate treacherousness on innocent Ghanaians. The Media must be made to pay the repercussions for their deliberate treacherousness and unprofessionalism.

Mr Chairman, to further aggravate the situation and cause more distressing emotions on Ghanaians, Joy FM published another frightening headline on 29th June, that: *#FixTheCountry Activist Was Killed For Making Government Unpopular - Convenor*:

Joy FM stated that the #FixTheCountry Campaigners and Economic Fighters League are accusing persons closely related to the MCE for Ejura Sekyeredumase, Mohammed Bamba, as the masterminds behind the alleged murder of one of their activists, Mohammed Kaaka Ibrahim. That, they served notice they will petition the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the heinous crime. Here, Joy FM repeated that "the deceased was attacked by two assailants yet to be arrested by the police", meanwhile they have already reported misleadingly that it was a politically motivated mob attack.

How could Joy FM be so wicked and insensitive to make such offensive and unpleasant publication about a government official in a community in such volatile situation? Highly unfair and acceptable. Link: https://www.myjoyonline.com/fixthecountry-activist-was-killed-for-making-government-unpopular-convenor/

In fact, this highly objectionable publication by Joy FM on the Ejura MCE compelled him to also come out to deny the allegation on 8th July 2021 as stated: *Two suspects for Kaaka's murder, not my bodyguards.*

"The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ejura Sekyeredumase in the Ashanti region, has refuted speculations that the two suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Ibrahim Mohammed, are his bodyguards." Link: https://www.myjoyonline.com/two-suspects-for-kaakas-murder-not-my-bodyguards-ejura-mce/

Mr Chairman, this same barrage of misleading stories by Joy FM aimed at causing more disaffection for the government, forced the Interior Minister, Hon. Ambrose Dery, to also come out publicly to refute the allegation, thus: *Gov't, NPP Didn't Kill Kaaka; 'We've No Difficulty Whatsoever With #FixTheCountry Demo'.*

“The Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, said neither the Akufo-Addo-led government nor the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) is behind the murder of #FixTheCountry activist Ibrahim `Kaaka' Muhammed. Link: https://www.modernghana.com/news/1091070/govt-npp-didnt-kill-kaaka-weve-no-difficulty.html

According reports, the unstrained anger further caused the people of Ejura to storm the constituency office of NPP at Ejura to vandalise the place on 29th June as reported by OccupyGhana and Adom FM respectively.

OccupyGhana Website: NPP Office In Ejura Demolished By Residents Over Kaaka's Murder - https://occupygh.com/npp-office-in-ejura-demolished-by-residents-over-kaakas-murder/amp; and on Adom FM Website: Ejura Residents Demolish NPP Office Over Murder of Ibrhahim Kaaka - https://www.adomonline.com/ejura-residents-demolish-npp-office-over-murder-of-ibrahim-kaaka/

Mr Chairman, to assist your general perusal in investigating this matter brought before you, we would respectfully like to draw your attention to similar concerns which has been by expressed by the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, who doubles as the Chairman of Defence and Interior Committee in parliament, Hon. Ken. Agyapong. Link (A) YouTube: https://youtu.be/M3tuMuMdEXU. Link (B) Facebook: https://fb.watch/v/avYll_z-BA/

PREVIOUS MISLEADING STORIES, INDISCREET REPORTAGE AND APOLOGIES RENDERED BY JOY FM AND MULTIMEDIA.

As we have stated earlier Mr Chairman, we have monitored Joy FM and Multimedia activities on Ghana media landscape for quite long time now, and we believe that Joy FM's lack of prudence on pertinent national issues, is a huge cause for grave concern if not checked as soon as possible.

We respectively take this opportunity to list few palpable lies, deliberate misinformation and careless reportage by Joy FM which can one day lead the whole country into chaos.

1) In March 2019, the whole country was gripped with a sudden overwhelming fear when Joy FM premiered a documentary that the government of Ghana was training Militia 'Vigilante' Group at the heart of the nation, the Osu Castle. The government through its Information Minister condemned the documentary and described it as misleading and subsequently petitioned the NMC over the issue which your investigation found Joy FM guilty of misleading the country.

In July 2019, *The National Media Commission ruled against Multimedia Group's controversial documentary titled 'Militia in the heart of the nation after the painstaking investigation.* "The ruling concluded that Joy News Militia Documentary was misleading and fell short of ethical standards."

Mr Chairman, your outfit stated in the ruling that the Commission found that the documentary goes against the "Ghana Journalists Association's code of ethics, particularly guideline 23, which states that 'a journalist ensures that photographs and multimedia content adequately reflect an event and do not highlight an incident out of context".

It appears That Joy FM targeted and deliberately premiered the misleading and controversial documentary at the time when there was heightened concerns over the political violence at Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, just to further aggravate the situation in Ghana.

With this huge embarrassment, some people believed that the NMC ruling on Militia at the heart of the nation would provide Joy FM the opportunity for sober reflection and for other media houses to also learn take a cue, but it is obvious that Joy FM did not learn any lesson from that ruling by NMC or maybe the retribution meted out to Joy FM wasn’t pinching enough to help them get their acts together. Source: https://citinewsroom.com/2019/07/joy-news-militia-documentary-misleading-nmc-rules/

2) On the same issue, on 9th March 2019, *The Ghana Armed Forces was compelled to officially deny the Joy FM false Story published.

“The attention of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has been drawn to a Ghanaweb.com story with the above headline on Friday 8, March 2019. The story which was sourced from Myjoyonline.com alleged some officials from the Jubilee House in the company of soldiers have gone to lock up the offices of the De-Eye Group. GAF wishes to state categorically that it has not deployed any soldier to the Osu Castle for the stated purpose. Indeed no soldier has been assigned to follow any official to the former seat of Government for such an activity. This allegation is completely false.” *Source:* https://www.peacefmonline.com/pages/local/news/201903/377316.php

3) Recently on 29th May 2021, Headline: President Nana Akufo-Addo Takes on Joy FM over the alleged campaign against Free SHS.

“President Akufo-Addo accused Joy FM of waging a campaign against his government’s flagship Free Senior High Schools (SHS) policy.” Source: https://www.myjoyonline.com/akufo-addo-takes-on-joy-fm-accusing-it-of-waging-campaign-against-free-shs-policy/amp/

4) On 14th March, 2019. Headline: Joy FM Apologised For Inciting Teachers Against Gov’t.

“Joy FM was reportedly issued an apology to Deputy Education Minister Dr. Yaw Adutwum for attributing some false statements to him regarding the privatisation of some public basic schools in Ghana.”

Source: https://www.modernghana.com/amp/news/921285/joy-fm-apologises-for-inciting-teachers-against.html

5) On 12th Dec. 2019. Headline: Joy FM misled me – Gabby cries out after 'low bar' comment on Auditor General.

“Monumentally influential member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko has blamed his much-criticized comment that the bar for the measure of integrity, which won the Auditor General the prize as the Integrity Personality of the Year on a misleading report by Joy FM.”

Source: https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Joy-FM-misled-me-Gabby-cries-out-after-low-bar-comment-on-Auditor-General-812956

6) On 25th July, 2011. Headline: Asempa, Joy FM Apologised to Mills, Ahwoi.

“The management of Asempa FM and Joy FM have issued an apology to the president, John Mills and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Ato Ahwoi over defamatory comments.

Source: https://www.myjoyonline.com/asempa-joy-fm-apologise-to-mills-ahwoi/amp/

7) Headline: Joy FM Apologises to Prof. Dumor.

“The management of Joy FM wishes to retract a news report that suggested that Prof. Dumor was asked to step aside on account of his poor handling of challenges that have beset the National Identification Project. That report was not supported by any evidence.”

Source: https://www.myjoyonline.com/joy-fm-apologises-to-prof-dumor/

CONCLUSION:

Mr Chairman, it appears that the proliferation of media houses in Ghana and the easy access to social media platforms is undoubtedly putting huge pressure on some mainstream media houses to maintain their relevancy.

It means they would try to catch the eyes of Ghanaians with some unnecessary sensational breaking news with less care. This is causing them to break falsehood, inaccurate and misleading news to the general public to help maintain themselves as relevant as possible in the competitive media terrain in Ghana. However, we as Africans, we mustn't forget about the incidents of the misuse of mass media to incite incidences of violence which led to civil wars, such as the incident that occurred in Rwanda where over 800,000 Rwandans were murdered within the space of 100 days.

As a state agency (NMC) mandated with the responsibility of registering, regulating and monitoring the activities of these media houses in Ghana, we expect that you would exercise stringent measures and administer punitive actions on some media houses that defaults, Joy FM included, to help deliver good standard of professionalism and ensure adhering to high journalistic standard to help develop our young democracy in freedom and justice. We expect that Joy FM would be asked to get their acts together and apologise to the people of Ejura for misleading them into violence, injuries and deaths. Joy FM must be urged to promise Ghanaians of good professional delivery going forward, devoid of treacherousness, biased and sensationalism.

Indeed, Ghanaians believe that Free, Diverse and Responsible Press is the core element to keep our leaders checked and make our democracy function better.

Therefore, Joy FM mustn’t be allowed to hide behind press freedom to perpetrate careless publication on Ghanaians which can lead to violence, injuries and deaths like they have done at Ejura in Ashanti region. This would prevent them from plunging the whole country into chaos in future with their reprehensible substandard reportage. Ghana has come this far, Ghana deserves the best.

We therefore hope that you grant our request to investigate this matter and furnish us with copy of your findings and recommendations coupled with the disciplinary sanctions that would be meted out to Joy FM and Multimedia, to help sanitise the airwaves and improve journalism in general in our country.

Thank you.

- - - Signed - - -

Peter Antwi Boasiako.

High Voltage Authorised Engineer, UK.

Tel: +233-547644687 or +447950388567

Bill Boampong Darlington.

Political Scientist and Public Policy Analyst, Ghana

Tel: +233209279533

Felix Hilton Kwamena Hamilton.

International Security and Global Governance Analyst, UK.

Tel: +447943008516

Cc:

· The Director General - National Communication Authority.

· The Hon. Minister - Ministry of Information, Accra.

· The President - Ghana Bar Association.

· All Media Houses, Ghana.

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