Panicky Akufo-Addo Signs RTI Bill Into Law

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To Drown Demonstration Against His Gov’t

Obviously trying to undo the effect of yesterday’s demonstration against his government and the National Communication Authority (NCA) by a group calling itself Free Media Vanguard, President Akufo-Addo, assented to the landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act, which is over 20 years in coming.

The law, according to governance experts, is expected to be the game-changer in the country’s governance, particularly with respect to information flow.

Interestingly, while demonstration was ongoing in the streets of Accra, President Akufo-Addo, was signing the bill inside the Flagstaff House in Accra.

He announced that the Act was brought to his office on May 20 and “I felt that I should sign it in the plain view of the Ghanaian people, for you to know that this long-winding parliamentary process has finally come to an end.”

In a short remark to assent to the Act, President Akufo-Addo, said the implementation of the law would boost the country’s good governance and the fight against graft.

Meanwhile, the protestors gave a week ultimatum to the government and the regulator NCA, to restore the radio stations which were taken off-air over alleged authorization infractions.

The protesters, clad in red and black attire, were wielding placards with inscriptions such as: “Enough is enough”, “Akufo-Addo, you are a threat to free speech”, “Stop adding tyranny to hardship”, “Leave Adeti alone”, and so forth.

They marched from the El-Wak Sports Stadium to the offices of the NCA.

The protest, dubbed: “March for Free Expression”, aimed to safeguard the fundamental human rights of free expression, and the work of journalists, which the organisers say have come under threat.

The protest follows the closure of Accra-based Radio XYZ, Radio Gold and several media houses across the country, for failing to renew their operating licenses.

The Minority in Parliament has given its full backing to the march.

But Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, maintains that the shutdown of the radio stations by the NCA,  is not an attack on press freedom.

The group hit the streets of Accra in protest of what they described as a suppression of media freedom in Ghana by the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

Dubbed “March for free expression” demo, the group presented a petition to the NCA demanding that the closed stations be restored in one week.

The group is resisting, in particular, the closure of Radio XYZ, Radio Gold and other stations across the country purported to be pro-National Democratic Congress.

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The NCA on May 9 shutdown Radio XYZ and Radio Gold, for defaulting in the renewal of their authorization. According to the NCA, Radio Gold for instance has not renewed its authorisation for close to two decades.

But the move by the regulator ignited a national discourse on the legality and appropriateness of the NCA’s action.

Under the auspices of the Free Media Vanguard, a candle vigil was held two weeks ago at the premises of Radio Gold in solidarity with all stations that were closed.

The group accused the NCA of conniving with the government to victimise the media.

Tuesday’s demonstration, the convener, Prince Minkah, explained, was to fight for a free media, indicating that some journalists are being victimised in their line of duty.

The Pressure group, has presented a petition to the NCA to restore the broadcasting rights of Radio XYZ, Radio Gold, and all other stations that have been shut down by the authority for non-compliance.

Presenting the petition on Tuesday, 21 May 2019, after the march in Accra, the Convener for the group, Prince Minkah, entreated the NCA to execute their functions with tact.

“In applying the law … you can use the law to suppress men, you can use the law to destroy men, you can use the law to destroy history … you (NCA) should not be a part of those who will go down in history as destroying the freedoms of men, all in the name of the law,” he stated.

Receiving the petition on behalf of the Director-General of the NCA, a Deputy Director of Managerial Operations, Olivia Quartey, said the petition will be tabled before the leadership of the NCA for redress.

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