“…The purpose of the bill is to fulfill the promise of repeal and thereby demonstrate the government’s determination to make good its promise to the nation,” this is what the current President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said on July 27, 2001 when he presented to parliament a bill that effectively repealed the obnoxious Criminal Libel laws used to indiscriminately jail journalists.
However, under his watch as President in 2020, the Tesano and the New Edubiase Police Command have clearly demonstrated that criminal libel law has been re-introduced secretly, as police officers stormed the offices of Whatsup News to arrest its Editor-in-chief for a publications it had made.
Whatup News had in July reported alleged ethnic profiling of Ewes and Northerners in New Edubiase in the Ashanti Region.
Whatsup News Editor-In-Chief, David Tamakloe was dragged from his Accra office in handcuffs and whisked to another jurisdiction-New Edubiase in the Ashanti Region to face charges for the publication.
“The police gave us no notice whatsoever, nor followed the required processes. They simply ambushed Mr.Tamakloe, dragged him to the Tesano Police Station, and flashed a Bench Warrant at him from a magistrate court, or whatever from New Edubiase,” narrates Raphael Ofori-Adeniran, the Managing Editor of Whatsup News.
“When we questioned the strange arrest, and tried to appeal to their rational thoughts, the Divisional Police Commander at Tesano, physically attacked one of our respresentatives who went to see Mr. Tamakloe at the Police station. They seized our rep’s mobile phone and forced him to delete the picture he had taken of the police vehicle that drove David in to New Edubiase yesternight,” Mr. Ofori-Adeniran explained.
The Editor-In-Chief of Whatsup News, was picked up Rambo-styled on Wednesday October 7, 2020, in what clearly smacked of the brutal media targeting that has characterized the current Akufo Addo administration.
On July 8, 2020, Whatsup News had reported on allegations made by the Director of Elections of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, who had revealed that some people in the New Edubiasi town of the Ashanti Region had ganged up against Ewes and Northerners during the heady days of the new voter registration.
According to Mr. Afriyie Ankrah who had made the revelation during a press conference at the NDC’s headquarters in Accra, the targeting of Ewes and Northerners was part of the general theme of ethnocentric hounding of members of these minority groups during the voter registration exercise.
WhatsUp News would later see video clips on social media said to be evidential of what Mr. Afriyie Ankrah had said.
However, after the story was put together, Whatsup News got a report that one of its readers who had shared the story on social media platforms in New Edubiase had been arrested by the Police there. After enquiries, the paper got in touch with the Police officer reportedly investigating the matter, one ASP Duodo.
The Police had claimed that the arrest was over the reader’s supposed distribution of “fake news”.
However, Whatsup News had provided the Edubiase police with the NDC press statement and other pieces of evidence provided by the NDC to back its claim of ethnic discrimination in the Ashanti Region during the controversial new voters’ registration exercise. After that, the police did not contact again (since July, 2020), only for them to pounce on the digital newspaper three months after (in October 2020) with a bench warrant.
The New Edubiase Police Command is claiming Whatsup News was playing “hide and seek” with it, hence the arrest.
“But we have been very cooperative with these police officers, despite us not knowing exactly what charges they were levelling against us. David has been in constant touch with ASP Duodo on telephone to see how to resolve the case of our reader who was arrested. We insisted on the police to officially telling us exactly what we had done wrong. Never did they state any charges until they sprung that bench warrant on us on Wednesday,” said Mr. Ofori-Adeniran.
“We feel our uncompromising views on issues of national interest are making some powerful people in government uncomfortable. We have seen similar targeting of journalists recently and we have no misgivings about our suspicion. This is a sad day for journalism in Ghana!”
Interestingly, the reported ethnocentric targeting of Ewes, especially in the Ashanti Region has been roundly condemned by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other individuals in the country. Indeed, Togbui Siri lll, even warned that the ethnocentric targeting of Ewes may trigger responses.
The targettng of Whatsup News is the umpteenth time agents of the Akufo Addo administration have brutally hunted down journalists in the line of duty.
This actions include the Gestapo-styled kidnapping of journalists from online news platform- Mordern Ghana, reportedly under the explicit order of the National Security Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah.
Other journalists have been forced into momentary exile, including renowned investigative journalist, Manasseh Azuri Awuni, who was hunted down until he went into exile briefly in South Africa.
Similar targeting has resulted in the cold-blooded assassination of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein Suale of Tiger Eye PI-an investigative organization founded by undercover investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
On Friday 27 July 2001, Ghana’s parliament unanimously repealed the Criminal Libel and Seditious Laws, which had been used to incarcerate a number of journalists in the past.
The repeal follows the passage of the Criminal Code (Repeal of the Criminal and Seditious Laws – Amendment Bill) Act 2001 by a unanimous vote in the House.
With the amendment, any person accused of committing an offence under the repealed sections will be discharged with all proceedings before the courts on the same sections ceasing.
Under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the president has seven days to either assent or reject the bill, but from previous utterances and actions of the government, it appears the old law has been scrapped.
The pledge to repeal the despotic libel law was reaffirmed on 7 January 2001, when ex-President John Agyekum Kuffuor was sworn into office, during which he said that the Criminal Libel Law would be “amended to expand the boundaries of freedom.”