The Ghana Police Service on Tuesday November 14, 2017 invited Mr. Prince Prah, Editor of the DAYBREAK newspaper over a supposed petition filed against the journalist by the Ghana Armed Forces (GFA) and on arrival, the journalist was charged with “causing fear and panic”.
He was made to write a caution statement and put to bail.
THE PUBLISHER, and several well-meaning persons in Ghana and beyond, find the development rather disturbing and one that has trappings of gagging the media.
In the first place, “causing fear and panic” is a vast and blanket term that could generally be interpreted to mean anything and be skewed to victimize and harass almost anyone over anything, anytime and anyhow.
What exact aspect of the journalist’s editorial content caused the supposed fear and panic? And among which people were the supposed fear and panic caused? Who were the complainants? The same persons the story sought to expose? Wow!!!
DAYBREAK, as a newspaper, has been consistent in naming and shaming bad nuts among officers and men of the Ghana Armed Forces.
If the paper’s content bothers on forgery, fabrication and lies, that is a different subject matter and we call on both the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police Service to come clean and clear on that.
On the other hand, the contents of the said stories have been largely truthful and in the public interest. The paper has provided hard core and empirical evidence to back many of its reports when challenged
Mr. Prah and his DAYBREAK newspaper team should rather be applauded and encouraged to continue to name and shame the few bad nuts giving the entire Forces a rather bad name.
Assuming, without admitting that the paper had erred, running to the Ghana Police Service over a newspaper publication is certainly not one of the prescribed channels of addressing media related grievances in this counrty.
If the GFA is not interested in a rejoinder, and it does not want to go to the National Media Commission, it has the option of dragging the journalist before the law courts for redress.
But to criminalize Mr. Prah’s editorial content, when the veracity of that content has not been challenged, is certainly not a plus to the responsible press freedom culture of this country.
Dragging the journalist to the headquarters of the Ghana Police Service over his journalist work and charging him and then telling him he is under investigation is certainly intimidating and not encouraging.
THE PUBLISHER would not keep silent over this. The way and manner the whole thing was handled has rather ignited our curiosity in wanting to know more about happenings in the Ghana Armed Forces and whether there are bad nuts that should be named and shamed.
We have been inspired to join the DAYBREAK newspaper in its passion to be a watch dog on everyone including the GFA.
We hope and pray, we would also not be ordered to appear before security capos where we would be charged with causing fear and panic, put on bail and told we are under investigation.
But if it so happens that that is the price we have to pay for speaking the truth, then so shall it be.
Serving in the security service is like a hundred meters race. But the media is like a cross country marathon… we live to see.