Stop Tape Controversy -Kweku Baako

New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, has cautioned government and its communicators over the handling of the controversial Presidential gaffe tape.

This follows a decision by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to probe the saga.

A statement issued Thursday and signed by Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the CID, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Joseph Darkwah, said the CID had ‘initiated investigations into the matter with the view of getting the authentic tape as well as the origin of the doctored one.’

The statement therefore warned that ‘anyone found culpable would be dealt with according to the laws of the Republic of Ghana,’ while cautioning the media to be circumspect with reportage and comments on the issue.

The issue involves a tape recording on which President John Mahama is alleged to have accused the people of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region – stronghold of the opposition NPP – of ingratitude when he visited the place a week ago. He was reported to have said that even if his administration constructed roads in Kumasi covered with gold, the people would not be appreciative.

Some government officials, including Information and Media Relations Minister, Mahama Ayariga and the National Organiser of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), sought to defend the President’s position when the issue became public.

But Kweku Baako was quoted by his newspaper as having insisted that the decision by the CID to wade into the affair would further push the issue into the realm of criminality which in his view, would not be in line with the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution with respect to media practice.

‘One would have expected that the Ministry of Information, which I suspect made the complaint to the CID, would direct the matter to the National Media Commission (NMC) as a case of possible ethical breach for redress, but deciding on their own to refer the case to the CID is unwarranted and a throw-back to the days of Seditious and Criminal Libel, where free speech and journalism were criminalized’, he was quoted to have said. He stressed that the referral of the case to the police was not only misdirected, but also unnecessary, since the media house or houses they suspected might have engaged in the doctoring were undertaking their professional duties.

Pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) also believes the police decision to investigate the controversial tape was needless.

Young Patriots, one of the youth groups of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), has also urged its members across the nation to speak their minds about what they described as ‘the President’s ethnocentric comments in Kumasi.’

‘The Police CID has no such right to prevent anyone from expressing their views on the reckless statement of the President,’ a statement signed by Richard Nyamah, chairman of the group, pointed out.

BY Charles Takyi-Boadu

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