Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Ghanaian Media Must Demand Stan Dogbe's Immediate Dismissal

That the president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Dr. Roland Affail Monney, apparently fails to recognise Stan Dogbe's reported confrontation at the 37 Military Hospital, with Yahaya Kwamoah, a reporter for the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), for what it actually is, is very worrying.

In seizing and destroying a digital device belonging to a news reporter - whom he apparently thought had overheard and recorded his conversation with Dr. Omane Boamah, the minister for communications - Stan Dogbe was in a sense attacking Ghanaian democracy itself.

That is what makes his egregious actions that day so monstrous. The impunity implied by his conduct shows the utter contempt some of those around President Mahama have for the rule of law. Such individuals should not be around the President of the Republic of Ghana. Ever.

In a nation in which millions worship at the alter of the Cult-of-the-mediocre, some are calling for Stan Dogbe to apologise to Yahaya Kwamoah - instead of calling for his dismissal.

Yet, if he had held the same position in either the White House or Downing Street, he would have been dismissed the moment his reprehensible and abominable behaviour, came to light.

One's humble advice to President Mahama, is that in all such instances, his attitude ought to be that those privileged to be in his circle of friends, have a moral obligation to keep their noses clean - and that when they fall foul of the law, they must not expect Ghana's President to rescue them from their own foolishness.

By his conduct, it is obvious that Stan Dogbe feels that he is a very powerful man in Ghana  - and can therefore literally get away with anything he does: including forcefully seizing and destroying equipment carried by journalists. That is simply intolerable.

Incidentally, it must also be pointed out that by remaining silent over the matter, thus far,  Dr. Omane Boamah stands condemned too. What were they discussing that was so sensitive politically for their regime, that it triggered Stan Dogbe's violent reaction, when he thought it had been recorded?

What exactly do they have to hide from Ghanaians concerning the events that led to the painful and tragic death of Samuel Nuamah of the Ghanaian Times - such that mere suspicion that it had been overhead and recorded, resulted in Stan Dogbe seizing and destroying a piece of equipment, belonging to a journalist?

Why did Dr. Omane Boamah not intervene to stop Stan Dogbe from so rashly confronting the GBC's Yahaya Kwamaoh that day?

To show the Stan Dogbes in our midst that no one is above the law in the Ghana  of today - and that it will do everything possible, including supporting assaulted journalists to take legal action, against those who attack them whiles doing their work - the GJA must move swiftly to condemn Stan Dogbe, and demand his immediate dismissal.

It is important that all journalists elected to lead the GJA,  never forget that people like Tommy Thompson died in the struggle to end the culture of silence that enabled those  in power to trample on the rights of ordinary Ghanaians, in the past, with such impunity.

Neither should journalists elected to lead the GJA ever forget that once upon a time, heroic individuals in the Ghanaian media world, such as Kabral Blay-Amihere, Kwesi Pratt and Kweku Baako, risked their lives in the fight to restore freedom of expression in Ghana.

Today's media professionals must jealously guard press freedom in Ghana.  And the GJA ought to take the lead, in ensuring that powerful individuals in the executive branch of government, and in other spheres of our national life, never get away with assaulting journalists going about their lawful duties.

The GJA should, as a matter of principle, always demand the prosecution of such individuals.

The GBC, which claims to be a public service broadcaster, serving the nation boldly and impartially, should not remain aloof in this matter. It has an opportunity to show Ghanaians that it is not a mere tool of the present regime.

It must condemn Stan Dogbe in no uncertain terms - and seek justice for Yahaya Kwamoah: by supporting him to report the matter to the police.

To support Yahaya Kwamoah, every journalist in Ghana who believes in the rule of law, must call for Stan Dogbe's dismissal by President Mahama - and for him to be charged by the police for assaulting Yahaya Kwamoah and prosecuted for same.

Hopefully, he will be given a suitably stiff jail sentence, for his arrogant abuse of the rights of a Ghanaian journalist - to serve as an example to others in President Mahama's regime, who might also be tempted to abuse the rights of journalists. He is not above the law.

The Ghanaian media is the fourth arm of government  in our democracy - and journalists in Ghana must never forget that they play a watchdog role in our system: holding those who handle our nation's affairs in the other three arms of government,  the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, to account.

They do so on ordinary people's behalf, to ensure that never again will Ghanaians be enslaved, and silenced, by oppressive regimes.

It is for that reason that the Ghanaian media must demand Stan Dogbe's immediate dismissal by President Mahama. He and others of his ilk must not be allowed to assault and  intimidate journalists and get away with it. Given our history, those now in power in our country, should never try to justify physical confrontations between government appointees, and journalists going about their lawful work. Period.
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