It is a real pity that the over-zealousness of the Greater Accra Regional Police, which in the short space of a few hours, questioned; took a statement from; processed for court; and got him remanded in prison custody; succeeded in turning a self-confessed liar into a "free-speech-hero." It is an outrage that an insensitive young man, whose foolish allegation that a loving father and husband who was nowhere near the scene of a fire, had deliberately set his own home, in which his wife and daughter were asleep, alight, has been embraced by those hypocritical politicians who occupy the minority benches in Parliament: on the basis that his arrest for the monstrous lie he told during a radio broadcast, meant that freedom of speech in Ghana was under threat. What utter rubbish. What decent human being can fail to sympathize with even an enemy who had just experienced such a terrible tragedy, I ask, dear reader? That young man certainly deserves everything that is coming to him.
The real issue at stake, and what we all ought to be concerned about, is the unfortunate impression created by the unholy rush by the police, to have that silly young man prosecuted and remanded in prison custody. It made many independent-minded Ghanaians (as opposed to the “My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong” myrmidon-types whose blind support of political parties is slowly destroying them!) feel that somehow they were acting with dispatch merely to please some influential individuals in society – when they should have been professional enough to demonstrate to the world that they are not mere tools of our ruling elite, but impartial enforcers of the law, and independent keepers of the peace: who had gone to a radio station to stop a mob from attacking it because a section of society felt affronted by the abominable statement it broadcast that a former president of Ghana had deliberately set fire to his own home. Naturally, we must also condemn those brutish individuals who are wont to assemble at radio stations with (evil-intent), on such occasions.
There are some Ghanaians, including me, who loathe and despise former President Rawlings for continuing to insist that democracy is alien to Africa – when the yearning for freedom is no less strong in the hearts of ordinary Africans, than it is in the hearts of individuals from other races. Yet, even I, and many who feel like I do about him, feel deeply for him and his family, for their terrible loss: and can empathize and share their plight on a purely human level. What decent human being will play politics with the personal tragedy of a fellow human being? The real threat to press freedom in Ghana is the illegal use of zillions of cedis of taxpayers’ money by dishonest and crooked politicians to corrupt journalists and compromise the independence of media houses in Ghana, to stop them from playing their watchdog role in society, as the fourth arm of government. That is what we ought to be outraged by. That, and the hypocrisy of the politicians who sit on the minority benches in Parliament – who put themselves beyond the pale in embracing a self-confessed liar: callous and insensitive to the extent that he was even prepared to falsely accuse a man who had just suffered a personal tragedy, when his family’s home was burnt completely in a terrible fire, of deliberately setting his own home alight.
Perhaps they can justifiably condemn the Greater Accra Regional Police Command, for their over-zealousness and lack of professional judgment (in the way they rushed that foolish young man to court with such indecent haste, without thinking of its political repercussions) – but they must never give anyone the impression that the Mills regime in any way represents a threat to freedom of expression in Ghana. The bald truth is that neither freedom of expression nor press freedom is under threat in the Ghana of today. Period. Those who are on the minority’s side in Parliament ought to end their unjustifiable boycott of the proceedings of the house immediately, and go back to do what ordinary Ghanaians pay them so handsomely to do: represent them in the legislature. A word to the wise…
Tel (powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartfone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.