Thu, 28 Jul 2011 NPP

NPP’s John Kuma in police dungeon

By Phyllis D. Osabutey - Ghanaian Chronicle
President John Evans Atta Mills (left), John Kuma (right)President John Evans Atta Mills (left), John Kuma (right)

The culture of insults in the Ghanaian political landscape seem to have been driven to higher heights in recent times, with the two main political parties casting aspersions and insults against their opponents with impunity.

This political culture, which violates the Ghanaian moral code, seems to have become the order of the day in a very disturbing manner, with persons supposed to set examples of good leadership for the youth being the culprits.

It would be recalled that on Tuesday, July 19, this year, a youth pressure group within the New Patriotic Party (NPP) calling itself 'Young Patriots' served warning to the ruling National Democratic Party (NDC) members that they would respond to any insults that emanated from their camp against NPP party leaders.

The Young Patriots stated that they had noticed with displeasure, personal attacks and character assassination of political opponents of the NDC, particularly, the NPP flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, rather than focusing on issues, hence, they would not take lightly any more insults on any member of their party.

Barely a week after issuing this warning, a member of the Young Patriots, John Kumah, who spoke at the earlier press conference to issue the threat on insults, was yesterday arrested for having allegedly insulted the President of Ghana, President John Evans Atta Mills.

John was alleged to have made derogatory remarks about the President on an Accra-based radio station, Asempa FM, on Saturday, having suggested that Professor Mills sleeps with men, thereby, promoting homosexuality and gay practice.

He further alleged that President Mills was known to have been a chain smoker and sniffed cocaine while he was in the University of Ghana, Legon, as a result of which his palms were darkening.

It was for these comments that John was picked up yesterday by the police while he was participating in another discussion on another Accra-based radio station, Hot FM, for interrogation at the Police Headquarters.

However, before an intended charge of offensive conduct could be brought against him, he was said to have been released on the orders of Professor Mills, as indicated by Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who spoke to Asempa FM's Kwabena Bobie Ansah via phone yesterday.

Speaking to Joy FM after his release, John said he felt very honoured to have been called up by the police on behalf of his party, saying, 'It is an unusual honour a few people can afford, and I thank God that my party has honoured me in this light.'

He went on to aver that his arrest was a reflection of the dark days of Ghanaian politics, when the culture of silence operated, expatiating that 'where you speak your mind and you are arrested.'

However, as to what he said to have resulted in his arrest, he said he could not remember the exact words he used, but, 'I remember the person saying that Nana Addo is a womanizer, and I responded by saying that I am happy that Nana Addo chases women and not men.'

'And apparently, they think by making those comments, and since there is already an accusation out there that the President sleeps with Ato Ahwoi in the castle, then it means that the President is portrayed as being a gay or something.'

He went on to say that there seemed to be lopsided justice operating in the country, saying, 'Somebody made uncomplimentary comments about Nana Addo, my flagbearer, and I will not sit down for anybody to insult my flagbearer in a radio programme. So, I guess I might also have responded in an equal manner about the character of the President, and so they felt that they have to arrest me.'

To him, he was released, because, 'Apparently, they themselves have realised that it was a useless effort, and there was nothing to gain out of it, so they said I am discharged. There is nothing anymore. It was just a political fiasco.'

Commenting on the issue on Joy FM's News Night, the Communications Director of the NPP, Nana Akomea, stated in no uncertain terms that they would not tell their party members 'to always turn the other cheek.'

'We have told our people that they should not cast the first stone, but if you are on a programme and your opponent or colleague will not discuss the issue, and they will resort to insults, then, you will have to respond similarly,' he said.

He, however, expressed worry that a creeping culture of insults and personal attacks had characterised the Ghanaian political discourse, adding, 'We've all been witnesses to ministers of state, the Koby Acheampongs and other people calling the flagbearer of the NPP names; names of grievous insults, gratuitous insults, and nothing is said about it by officialdom.'

Also, he expressed surprise that the police did not act anytime uncomplimentary and totally gratuitous comments were thrown at the NPP leaders, lamenting, 'The only time that insults are being made, and offensive conduct is being displayed, is when it comes from the NPP, but otherwise, nothing is said about it from the police or President.'

He recalled that when in Nigeria, an aide to the President said things that were not complementary to other people, the President of Nigeria had the person removed from his post, saying, 'That is the kind of signal that will sanitise our political discourse.'

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