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04.08.2019 Feature Article

Re: Don't Destroy The National Media Commission-Samson Lardi

Samson Lardi of Joynews on the 3rd day of August 2019 decided to use his usual platform to launch a gun scathing attack on the National Media Commission in respect of their Ruling concerning Manasseh Azure Awuni's documentary couched as" MILITIA IN THE HEART OF THE NATION".

I am not by this piece purporting to hold brief for the National Media Commission, neither am I seeking to defend their Ruling against the documentary but as a citizen of Ghana, I owe it a duty to defend the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana. I am of the opinion that, since the supreme law of the Republic gave birth to the National Media Commission as rooted in Article 166 of the constitution of Ghana, it is the utmost duty of every right-thinking Ghanaian to defend it against contemptible attacks. It is in line with this narrative that, I am by this subtle submission seeking to condemn the recent unwholesome attacks on the NMC by Manasseh Azure Awuni and his lawyer.

The National Media Commission has its functions clearly elucidated in the 1992 constitution under article 167(a)(b)(c)(d) and (e) respectively. One of them is to ensure that, 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.

The above therefore clothes the NMC powers to serve as a mediator and an investigator. Government through the minister of Information some few months ago lodged a complaint before the NMC alleging ethical breaches and misrepresentation of facts in the work done by Manasseh Azure Awuni which sought to paint a clear picture that, some young men and women were being trained as a MILITIA group ahead of 2020 elections at the Osu Castle.

Per Audi alteram partem rule( let the other party be heard), Manasseh Azure Awuni through his lawyer, Samson Lardi filed a written response refuting the position of government as contained in the petition before the NMC. According to the National Media Commission, the Journalist work was solely in the interest of the state and could not be held liable in anything arising out of the documentary.(emphasis supplied)

The commission held a majority view that, "the attempt to expose the fact that, the group operated from the castle was in the public interest. However, in the attempt, the investigator deviated from the ethical standards defined by the Ghana Journalists Association 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 incidence out of context"

It was also held by the commission that, whereas the respondent used a photo from a BBC report on an attack on the Nigerian senate to promote the documentary online, the journalist failed woefully to relate it appropriately. Again, the inclusion of the shots from the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence and attack on the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator were at variance with the activities of the D-Eye Group was captured at the castle according to the commission.

The commission concluded that, there was no predisposition to violence in the documentary hence, the association of the D-Eye Group with the Ayawaso West Wuogon Violence and the BBC story from Nigeria were sensational.

According to Manasseh Azure and his lawyer, the commission erred in the matter because, certain material facts if adhered to by the NMC would have changed the face of the Ruling were ignored. Inasmuch as they are entitled to hold the said opinion, it is also wrong to infer that, the commission failed the good people of Ghana as has been the position of Manasseh Azure Awuni and his lawyer.

Even in the court of law, when a judge delivers a ruling, definitely it won't favor one of the parties involved but that cannot in any away be a yardstick to" run down" the said judge because you disagree with his ruling. The appropriate forum to ventilate the disagreement is the court of appeal where the Judgement would be thoroughly reviewed by another superior court Judge upon Application.

Since the National Media Commission is an administrative body, decisions they take could be reviewed in the court of law. So what is stopping Samson Lardy and his client from going to seek Judicial Review on the NMC's ruling? Is Samson Lardi telling us that, If a superior court had delivered this ruling, he would have still described it as POLITICAL RULING because the judges who sat on the case was appointed to the superior court by the government of the day? Gradually, Ghana is really becoming an interesting country

Let me pull a break for now.
Dawda Eric(Equity)
Citizen Vigilance for Justice
4th August,2019
[email protected]

Dawda Eric
Dawda Eric, © 2019

This author has authored 78 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: DawdaEric

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