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Information Minister condemns attack on UTV; also asks broadcasters to promote nat’l cohesion

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has condemned the attacks on United Television (UTV) by some youth suspected to be members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

He stated that the right to free expression and freedom of the media are key pillars of Ghana’s democracy and must be fiercely protected.

“The Ministry condemns in no uncertain terms any unauthorized entry into media organization in protest of media content or interference with media work,” the Ofoase Ayirebi lawmaker said in a statement issued on Sunday, October 8.

He added “The Ministry stands with the Police and the courts in the conduct of their duties. The Ministry wishes to encourage the media especially broadcast media show hosts and panelists to do their utmost to promote national cohesion even as they exercise their fundamental freedoms.”

Following a complaint from the Despite Media Group and Ministry of Information that certain people had invaded the studios of UTV, the Police said they proceeded to the scene and arrested sixteen persons.

The incident occurred during the broadcast of the station’s United Showbiz programme on Saturday, October 7. The show was disrupted immediately after it started around 9PM.

The arrested persons were captured in a video indicating they had gone for one of the panelists Kwame Asare Obeng (A-Plus).

When the show resumed after about an hour break due to the interruption, A-Plus accused the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of masterminding the attack, a claim the Director of Communications of the NPP, Richard Ahiagbah denied after he visited the studios to respond to the allegation.

“My checks show that the NPP is not behind this action,” he said after condemning the attack.

A-Plus also accused a Deputy Communications Director of the NPP, Ernest Owusu-Bempah of instigating the attack. However, Owusu-Bempah in a statement asked him to retract and apologise else he would sue him for defamation.

“I am hearing that Owusu-Bempah is the one who instigated this,” a livid A-Plus said.

But Owusu-Bempah’s statement said “I have become aware of a rather unfortunate incident in the studios of UTV, were a group of young men interrupted this weekend’s edition of United Showbiz program. The reason cited for the disruption of the program is unknown to me.

“Again, I have no knowledge of the situation, neither do I know the characters involved. Surprisingly, a panelist on the show, Kwame Asare Obeng, otherwise known as A-Plus descended into the gutters with all sorts of attacks on my person. Furthermore, A-Plus directly linked me to the incident and repeatedly claimed that I was responsible for the disruption of the program and went ahead to issue a direct threat on my person.

“He also falsely alleged that I mobilized the group that disrupted the United Showbiz program without providing any lawful justification or evidence, and also indicated that he will mobilize thugs to come and harm me at Ghana Gas.

“Let me put on record that these accusations and defamatory statements were made without any substantiation or lawful justification. I have made a formal complaint to the police regarding the threat made on my life.

“On the other hand, I am by this statement demanding a retraction of A-Plus’s defamatory words and an unqualified apology. If he should fail or refuse to do that, then I would have no other option than to instruct my lawyers to institute legal action for
the damage and injury caused to my integrity.”

The National Media Commission (NMC) expressed concern over the attack and assured that it is working with the Police to address the situation.

A statement dated October 8, 2023 and signed by the Executive Secretary, Mr George Sarpong said, “The Commission is concerned about the increasing use of violence as the preferred method for addressing grievances against the media and journalists. Perpetrators of such crimes must realise that violence does not produce better journalism.”

The NMC pointed out that, “the Constitution provides anyone who feels aggrieved by the work of the media the opportunity to seek redress through the complaint settlement mechanism of the National Media Commission.

“As we approach the electioneering process for Ghana 2024, it is important for political actors and all Ghanaians to learn that the Ghana we envisage would not be built on the path of violent attacks on journalists.”

“The Commission assured that in the next couple of weeks, it will be rolling out a comprehensive programme to reactivate the Coordinated Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists to ensure the media continue to operate without fear.”

“In the meantime, we assure the public of our cooperation with the Ghana Police Service to get to the bottom of this matter,” the NMC assured.


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