NCCE Is Useless – Dr. Ampaw
According to him, NCCE has failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate of educating the citizenry despite the provision of huge amounts of money to the Commission by government.
He noted that the citizenry should not remain indifferent while their taxes are channeled into unproductive institutions like the NCCE, noting that its collapse would save the taxpayer’s money.
Speaking at a forum for journalists in Tamale organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and sponsored by Star-Ghana, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU) on the theme, ‘The Media’s Coverage of the 2012 Election Petition Adjudication: Successes, Challenges and the Way forward,’ Dr. Maurice Ampaw commended the media for broadcasting live the Supreme court proceedings in the presidential election petition hearing.
He noted the media used airtime, resources and experts to help educate millions of Ghanaians, who waited patiently for the outcome of the presidential election petition filed by the 2012 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and others to challenge the declaration of John Mahama as President by the Electoral Commission (EC).
Participants at the forum
Dr. Ampaw indicated that the media are constitutionally mandated to cover proceedings in court to facilitate information dissemination to deepen democracy in the country, adding that the directive by the Chief Justice to broadcast proceedings at the Supreme Court strengthened the country’s democracy in a case that had serious political, religious, social, legal and economic implications.
He quoted Article 126 Clause 3 of the 1992 constitution, Publicity of Proceedings Order 1, Rule 2 of the civil procedures rule (2004: c 147) and Article 125 Clause 1, among other provisions and laws, to expatiate his point that the media had been empowered sufficiently to cover court proceedings.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Legal Perspectives on the Media’s Coverage of the 2012 Election Petition Adjudication and Post-Verdict Media Discussions,’ Dr. Ampaw disclosed his intention to challenge the position of the President of the nine-member panel as captured in page 40 of the ruling that courts should not easily invalidate elections results.
The position, he said, if left unchallenged would rather defeat democracy that the country is practicing, as one would never opt for presidential election petition in the country.
He explained the petitioners lost the petition because their reliefs were unfair, unreasonable and inequitable, stressing that they should have called for cancellation of the affected votes and offered an opportunity to the electorate in the affected areas to cast their ballot.
He added the polling agents compounded the problems of the petitioners by signing the pink sheets and failing to protest against violations, omissions or irregularities.
‘The inefficiencies of the Electoral Commission (EC) should not be visited on innocent voters,’ he emphasized.
On post-verdict analysis, the President of Legal Advocacy Foundation called for intellectual discussion devoid of acrimony and insults and called on owners of media houses to institute training and capacity building programmes for their employees.
He tasked journalists and hosts of programmes to be circumspect in their utterances because one could still fall into the trap of contempt even after judgment.
A media consultant and President of the Ghana Association of Writers, Kwasi Gyan-Appenteng, who spoke on the ‘Analysis of the Media’s Coverage of the 2012 Election Petition Adjudication and Post-Verdict Media Discussions,’ noted the coverage of the presidential election petition was commendable, as most media outlets were balanced and objective.
He however observed that the media were not allowed to use certain equipment in the courtroom, noting that the cumbersome accreditation process adversely affected their performance and therefore called for the establishment of a press centre in subsequent cases.
In her welcome address, Dora Mawutor, Programme Officer of the MFWA, said her outfit would continue to promote free expression in the country to deepen democracy and noted the media was a critical voice in the socio-economic development of Ghana.
She revealed that the latest language Monitoring Report of the MFWA put the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in lead with 38 indecent expressions, followed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) with eight, National Democratic Party (NDP) with five, Progressive People Party (PPP) with three and Convention People’s Party (CPP), two for the months of August and September, 2013.
The Programme Officer of the MFWA disclosed that her outfit monitored a total of 26 radio stations and 1190 programmes, adding that 67 indecent expressions relating to unsubstantiated allegations, insults, hate-speech, foul language and provocative remarks were made.
From Stephen Zoure, Tamale
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