The National Media Commission has stated yet again, its abhorrence of how media houses in Ghana go about their work. Without pointing fingers at specific media houses or persons, the Commission lumped together the entire media and criticized them for unfairly questioning the work of the Justice Georgina Woode Committee.
The Woode Committee investigated a number of cocaine related cases recently and presented its report to the Interior Minister who set it up. The recommendations and work of the report has over the period attracted analysis, reactions, comments and follow up investigations in a number of news reports and discussion programs in the media.
Among many others was also the concern ignited by a Committee for Joint Action (CJA) about the Woode Committee's failure to invite the Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II whose name had been mentioned in some interactions by some persons, to appear before the committee.
The CJA position and further claims by others, who insisted that inviting the Otumfuo would have helped him clear his name, brought in its wake some attrition and strong reactions. Since then, there has been a number of groups and individuals coming out in support of the Otumfuo.
At a press conference to state their position as well, the NMC through its chairman Paul Adu Gyamfi stated that it is wrong and unprofessional for journalists and media practitioners to attempt to force their opinions on the public.
He told the dailyEXPRESS that they at the Commission are against journalists asking questions and questioning the work of the Committee, to which the dailyEXPRESS queried further, “so what is the work of a journalist, if he cannot ask further questions?”
“The committee had the powers to investigate matters; it has come out with its report but we have people saying that oh… why did you not invite this person; why did you not invite that person, and imputing motives, improper motives to the committee, and we consider it to be wrong,” he claimed.
Exposing the Commission's reasons for calling the press conference, Mr. Adu Gyamfi stated that “if you are saying that they did not invite A, don't think that it is because of A's position that is why the person was not invited; that is not the issue…it's only a fact-finding committee. It is their duty under the law to invite those whose presence they consider to be important for their work. If from their point of view, they think that no, this person's presence is not necessary I don't think why you should question them that why they didn't invite them,”
The fifteen minute press conference attended by Executive Secretary George Sarpong and five members of the NMC, Freda Prempeh, Mohammed Afum, Geddy Laryea, Alhaji Abubakar Siddique and C.S. Boabeng was to address issues relating to press freedom in Ghana and its limitations.
While the statement was silent on specific issues relating to the Woode Committee, the Commission chairman used the opportunity of the media interviews during which 'his press statement and the contents therein were questioned by journalists present' to explain and indicate the real intent behind the conference.
Touching further on the Committee's work, Mr. Adu Gyamfi said “the committee invited those whose presence would help its work to testify before it. So that if they did not invite anybody, it means that they considered that what they were investigating, their presence was not important. If they don't, it means that they have done their work.”