“Free Expression” Demo Leader Attacked At Home

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Prince Minkah, XYZ morning show (Ete Sen) host and leader of Tuesday’s ”Free Expression” demonstration against NCA’s closure of some radio stations, which include Radio XYZ and Radio Gold, says he fears for his life, after his private residence was attacked on Wednesday dawn.

His white Hyundai Avante saloon car, was broken into, while he was asleep, raising eyebrows over a possible targeted attack.

“I have reported to matter to the Police for further investigations, but my young family is very traumatized,” Minkah told Power 97.9 FM’s Kaakyire Kwesi Appea-Apraku Wednesday morning.

The journalist is not convinced the vandalism at his home is coincidence, adding “this is an attack on the media freedom we are fighting for.”

Prince, also known as Kwame Minkah, is the convener for Free Media Vanguard (FMV)— a media advocacy group that fronted the protest that drew about 2,000 people onto the streets of Accra.

The demonstration was to draw the country’s attention to what the group and owners of the radio stations (Radio Gold and XYZ) have described as “selective” closure.

Prince said his commitment to the protest stems from the attack on journalists who expose the ills within the political circles in the country.

Meanwhile, Gifty Arthur of The Herald reports that officials at the NCA, have been asked by the group to resist any attempt by politicians to use them to suppress media freedom and free expression under the guise of regulatory measures.

The pressure group, during Tuesday’s peaceful demonstration in Accra, dubbed“March for free expression ”said, it was concerned about the unfair treatment being meted out to Radio Gold and Radio XYZ by the NCA, that despite several efforts by the two radio stations to regularize their licenses.

The group, suggested that the NCA, has become a tool in the hands of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, and being used against political opponents.

NCA, officials with heavily armed policemen, stormed the offices of the two radio stations affiliated to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) with armed men to close them down two weeks ago, claiming regulatory breaches.

But the group in the petition, said to the NCA “in discharging your duties you should not allow yourselves to be manipulated by the political authorities”.

Convener of FMV, a broadcast Journalist with Radio ZYX said, it was a worrying development that even though as at the last quarter of last year, Radio Gold, Radio XYZ were part of many radio stations that were in good standing as far as the books of the NCA was concerned, but months after, they have been singled out with the excuse that their licenses have not been renewed.

“You know that several times management of Radio XYZ and Radio and Gold made efforts to ensure that they spoke to you to go through the due process but I am worried and all of us are worried and all journalists in Ghana are worried, all these Ghanaians you see here including the Police men, are worried that you did not give the station the opportunity to go through the process.

We are worried that in 2018, as far as the last quarter was concerned, Radio XYZ and Radio Gold and some others were part of the radio stations that were in good standing, we are worried about the media suppression of media freedom in this country.

We are humbly petitioning your outfit for the purpose of giving practical research to the constitutionally guaranteed right of free expression and a free independent and pluralistic media to on reservedly, restore broadcasting right of all radio stations”.

Presenting the petition to the Deputy Director of NCA, Prince Minkah, asked the NCA to within a week restore all broadcasting licenses that have been shut down or face series of actions.

Prince Minkah told NCA’s Deputy Director, Olivia Quartey, to ensure that the regulator applies wisdom in implementing it laws so not to curtail free speech.

He said, management of the regulator though may claim to be implementing the law but must endevour not to go in history as people who destroyed freedom of speech.

“Put your best foot forward and in applying the law and just as Solomon did in the Bible, Solomon applied wisdom. You can use the law to suppress men, you can use the law to destroy men, you can use the law to destroy history after all, Adolf Hitler did it, many others have done it, [but] you should not be part of those who will go down in history as having destroyed freedoms of men all in the name of law”.

Ms. Quarter who was accompanied bygun wielding Police Officers led by Director of Operation Kwesi Fori, after receiving the petition promised the NCA will address their concerns.

“I understand, I have received this in the name of the Authority and we will do what is right”, she said.

Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa described the action of the NCA as “most bizarre” explaining nowhere in the Electronic Communication Tribunal (ECT) did the court say that radio stations should be closed down.

He said, the decision of the regulator is simply a “dictatorship” adding “We will not accept anything to muffle the media, to stifle all sections of the media that the government is not happy with.

We must be very worried about our Press Freedom credentials as it has been dinted, we have lost our number spot in Africa, we are declining at the global press freedom index, we have been listed among countries like Mexico, Malta, Saudi Arabia, where journalists are being killed”.

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The former Deputy Minister of Education said, it was rather worrying that under the watch of President Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s ranking in press freedom, has gone all time low, losing it number one spot on the continent.

“The claim by the NCA that they are enforcing a decision of the Electronic Communication Tribunal is another false claim; I have read the entire 37 pages of the decision nowhere was the NCA instructed to go and shutdown radio stations in this style, indeed the NCA lost the case terribly, miserably.

You lost the case your finds have been quashed the Electric Communication Tribunal has said that you engaged in procedural impropriety and then you turn round to say that you are enforcing your law what decision we charge them to tell us which paragraph, which page, of the tribunal decision are they enforcing. Clearly this is fascism, this dictatorship”he said.

Clad in mostly red attire, the demonstrators held placards some of which read “stop adding tyranny to hardship, “leave Adeti alone”, “leave our media houses alone”, “skopatomana government”, “Ghana is bigger than your father”, “Cowards die many times before their death: NPP don’t be cowards”, “Media diversity now”, “stop the fascism”, walked from the El-walk Sports Stadium to the head office of the NCA at Airport City.

The regulator on May 9, shutdown the two stations, for defaulting in the renewal of their authorization but management of the stations have refuted NCA’s saying they made the effort to regularize their licenses but they were not given the needed attention.

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