Finally, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) dared the judiciary in its “scandalous” order for media houses to delete and stop reporting on any news that criticises the Ghanaian judiciary.
At a press conference in Accra on Monday, March 1, 2021, President of the GJA Roland Affail Monney slammed the judicial service which used the services of a private law firm, Sory@ Law to carry out the hatchet job of attempting to unconstitutionally suppress free expression and media freedom in the country.
“…The GJA is, to put it mildly, dumbstruck in reading this obnoxious directive pregnant with insidious threats to media freedom in Ghana which is touted as a land of freedom and justice. With all due respect, this is scandalous,” said Affail Monney.
“Unsurprisingly, our telephones have been flooded with calls, both local and international, from journalists, media watch organizations, defenders of press freedom and free expression, seeking to know what exactly was happening since that contentious statement by the Judicial Service was issued.”
According to the GJA, in crafting the scandalous statement, the Judicial Service ought to have avoided any impression or situation that tended to instil fear and promote a culture of silence into which Ghana had been enveloped during the period of autocratic misrule.
The judiciaries gag order is the latest in the sustained assault on the media in the first four-year term of the Akufo Addo administration.
One journalist has been assassinated due to the instigation of a Member of Parliament of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kennedy Ohene Agyapong.
Several other journalists have been threatened for following up on stories that exposed underhand dealings in government, with journalists like Manasseh Azuri Awuni, formerly of the Multimedia Group, escaping into exile briefly, and later returning after he was offered round-the-clock police protection. Edward Adeti of Starr FM also faced the same fate after he exposed the corrupt dealing between the corrupt dealings between a Minister of State at the Jubilee House, Rockson Bukari and a Judge in the northern part of the country who were together attempting to cover up an illegal Chinese mining operation.
Meanwhile, according to the judiciary which has been at the heart of many bribery scandals and questionable rulings, the conduct of the judiciary has been subjected to what they claim is “a series of incendiary, hateful and offensive statements, and speeches . . . against the Justices,” and thus, media houses should go into their archives and expunge all news reports that highlights the scandals of judges and the judiciary.
This may include recent reports on allegations made by the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, the MP for Asawase in the Ashanti Region who stated categorically that in early January, during the election of the next Speaker of Parliament, a Supreme Court judge attempted to bribe a female MP of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to vote against the NDC candidate for the Speaker position, Alban Sumana Bagbin.
Instead of investigating the matter, the judiciary descended heavily on Hon. Muntaka, claiming his allegation had brought the judiciary into a bad light.
Eventually, Muntaka apologised for the collateral inferences that his allegation brought. However, in his carefully-worded apology, he did not retract his allegation that indeed a Supreme Court judge who currently sits on the election petition panel was the alleged bribe-giver.
One more scandal that the judiciary would earnestly want to be blotted out of the history books of Ghana is the undercover stint done by ace Ghanaian undercover investigative journalists, Ana Aremeyaw Anas.
In the report that was broadcasted nationwide as a documentary, he revealed dozens of judges from almost all the hierarchy of the courts in Ghana taking bribes to twist judgments in favour of their highest bidders.
Some of the bribes the judges were exposed receiving include goats, foodstuff and cash.