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The National Media Commission (NMC) and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) appear divided over the latter’s decision to blacklist two New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs. The GJA President Albert Dwumfour declared persona non grata, the Awutu Senya East MP Mavis Hawa Koomson and Farouk Aliu Mahama of Yendi, both accused of assaulting journalists from Cape FM and Citi TV in the heat of the NPP’s parliamentary primaries.

But Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo the chairman of the NMC criticised the GJA’s move, labelling it an overreach that undermines press freedom and the public interest. Ayeboafo condemned the attacks on journalists but urged the GJA to seek legal avenues for addressing such violence.

“Many years ago, I courted the displeasure and contempt of the Ashanti regional chapter of the GJA when they issued such an order against the vice-chancellor of the KNUST. As usual with some of our journalists, my dissent was taken as too known. I still hold the position that while it is disheartening for journalists to be attacked violently, the unilateral resolve to blackout or boycott is not the most productive reaction. We cannot fight impunity with impunity”, he stated.

He added, “I will support any effort to ensure that justice is done against all such deviant acts rather than blackout or boycott. We must follow the rule of law and the due process. Condemning such acts is in order and not the blackout or boycott. While the call for blackout or boycott may be popular, it may not be productive or functional to the public interest.”

Ayeboafo, however, incurred the wrath of the GJA president Albert Dwumfour who described the NMC chair’s position on the matter as “unfortunate” and “shocking”.

“[As a senior journalist] he didn’t take his time to ascertain from us about what informed the position. He hasn’t communicated nor received any information from us, and you just come here and tell us that [our decision] is just populist and dysfunctional. What has the NMC done to ensure the independence of the media and the freedom of the media in this country?  Dwumfour quipped.

“You abandon your constitutional mandate and a veteran journalist who is part of us and because today you head a state institution which is supposed to be independent will now disagree with an entire media body… The system has failed us, it is not working. We all need to rise and fight against this impunity”, he stated.

The discord between the NMC and GJA unfolds against the backdrop of the US embassy in Ghana collaborating with stakeholders to safeguard journalists ahead of the 2024 polls.

A one-day workshop has been held in Kumasi aimed at promoting peaceful journalistic platforms ahead of the upcoming general election. Participants include selected journalists, officials from the Electoral Commission, the Ghana Police Service, and representatives from various political parties. Similar events have been held in other regions across the country.

 

Reporting by Jonathan Ofori, Asaase Newsroom, Kumasi

 

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