Accra High Court has directed the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) to pay the National Communications Authority (NCA) GHC 1,500 as payment for requested information.
This ruling will be sending a disturbing signal that is reinforcing perceptions that public institutions in Ghana are unwilling to create a conducive environment for the release of public interest information under the obligation demanded of them from the Freedom of Information regulation.
The MFWA is requesting the NCA to furnish it with a list of radio stations that were operating in the country at the end of the third quarter of 2020. But the NCA had refused, demanding a whopping GHC 2,000 for the information.
The foundation dragged the communications regulator to court and the court had reaffirmed the NCA’s position. The court only slashed GHC 500 off the original amount the NCA asked for.
In court, the foundation had prayed the High Court, among other reliefs, to declare that the amount of ¢2,000 demanded by the as a constructive denial, refusal, failure or neglect, and breach of Applicant’s right to information under Article 21(1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
According to the MFWA the fee was unlawful, unreasonable, unfair, and in violation of its constitutional and fundamental right to access information.
However, on Thursday, the High Court presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo dismissed all the reliefs sought by the NCA and ordered the bewildered MFWA to cough up the fees before it can access the information requested.
MFWA requested the NCA to provide the full list of all Authorised FM stations as of the second quarter of 2020, indicating the dates of the first Authorisation, dates of last Authorisation renewals, locations, and operational status (on-air or off-air).
This was predicated by what was seen as the NCA deliberately closing down media houses perceived to be close to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).