A professor at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Ransford Gyampo has said chiefs have no powers to shut down radio stations in Ghana following Thursday’s orders by the Kumasi Traditional Authority to Oyerepa FM to suspend operation.
The leader of United Progressive Party (UPP) Akwasi Addai Odike incurred the wrath of the Manhyia Palace after he criticised Ashanti chiefs on the radio station for failing to end illegal mining in the region.
The criticism did not go down well with Manhyia – the seat of the Ashanti kingdom – ordering the management of the station to close down until the issue is resolved.
“Ghana isn’t a monarchy. Chiefs can’t shut down radio stations,” Gyampo posted on Facebook. “They only suggested the shutdown and the owners accepted it with alacrity, out of fear. Any blame should be laid at the doorstep of the radio station owners for being weak.”
Meanwhile, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has condemned the traditional authorities in the Ashanti Region for shutting down Oyerepa FM, describing it as a bad precedent.
The Executive director of MFWA, Sulemana Braimah said the development is worrying.
“In terms of what he [Odike] said, so far I am at a loss to point out anything that one will say is defamatory, and indeed even if there were such comments, I believe our laws provide remedial measures for persons who feel offended by what others do or say,” Braimah said on The Asaase Breakfast Show with Benjamin Offei-Addo.
“So in this case, I don’t think what has happened is in line with those remedial measures,” he said. “I think it is an exercise of power by the traditional authorities, which sends quite a wrong signal.”
“This matter is very sensitive because it involves Manhyia, but we need not also say because it is Manhyia, then begin to compromise on certain principles around media freedom, freedom of opinion and so on,” Braimah said.
The station, according to the acting president of the Kumasi Traditional Council, who also doubles as Bantamahene, Baffour Amankwatia VI, allowed the founder and leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Akwasi Addai ‘Odike’ to use their airwaves to berate the chiefs.
Amankwatia VI gave the orders when a delegation from Oyerepa Radio and TV appeared before the traditional council to render an apology over the comments made by Odike.
Speaking on Oyerepa Radio, Akwasi Addai unequivocally criticised chiefs for failing to help end the ‘galamsey’ menace.
He charged the youth to rise up and demonstrate against chiefs if the traditional rulers fail to come clear on their roles in or stance against illegal mining.
But his comment was described as distasteful and unsubstantiated, meant to dent the image of Manhyia.
Some chiefs of the Kumasi Traditional Council on Friday performed rituals and slaughtered a ram to ostensibly banish Odike from Manhyia.
The chiefs consider the words of Odike as disrespectful hence he should have no business at Manhyia.