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Bekwai: NMC resolves impasse between Police, MCE and Radio station

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The National Media Commission ( NMC) has resolved a misunderstanding between the Bekwai police and the Bekwai Municipal Security Council on one hand and a local radio station in the municipality, DESS FM on the other hand.

The matter was referred to the NMC from the Office of the Attorney General and resolved on Thursday, 4 December 2020 following a meeting between the parties and the Chairman of the NMC, Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh.

A letter from the Office of the Attorney General to the NMC, signed by Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecutions, indicated that the office had received reports of violent clashes between supporters of the Member of Parliament for Bekwai, who is contesting this year’s election on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party and an independent candidate, Mr Kwasi Amofa Agyemang.

It said the clashes usually involved supporters of the two candidates who participate in a political talk show on the radio station when they gather to discuss issues on the radio.

It said there have been several fruitless attempts by the Police and Municipal Security Council to resolve the matter leading to the council unilaterally ordering the suspension of the programme and the Police taking an action against DESS at the Bekwai Circuit Court to get the programme suspended.

It said the radio station on the other hand insisted that it would not be prevented from carrying out its duties except by an order from the NMC.

At the meeting, involving the police, some members of the Municipal Security Council, management and producers of the programme, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh reiterated the fact that neither the police nor the Municipal Security Council has the power to compel the radio station to suspend the programme without a recourse to the NMC which has the mandate to investigate and proffer appropriate sanctions.

Mr. Boadu-Ayeboafoh explained that his presence at Bekwai was in line with the determination of the NMC to ensure the expeditious resolution of election-related disputes that would be brought to the Commission to have meaning and impact.

He accordingly appealed to the parties to cooperate with the NMC and charged the police whilst being firm to ensure the peace and orderly conduct of affairs, to respect the due process of the law and the constitutional provisions of the 1992 Constitution on the freedom and independence of the media.

He, however, pointed out the inherent risks involved in the commingling of roles by the producer of the show. The ethical requirement of a radio show producer is to act independent, fair and objective in the professional performance of his functions. In this instance, however, the producer had taken sides and went as far as describing Mr Osei Owusu as an “opponent” in his statement to the Police. This was unethical and unprofessional.

Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh used the opportunity to grant a live interview to DESS FM, through which he appealed to the people of Bekwai to among other things be tolerant of diverse opinions no matter how critical, be civil in their use of language, show respect to each other and ensure that on Monday, December 7, 2020, they exercise their franchise peacefully and orderly.

The parties expressed appreciation to the NMC for coming to Bekwai for a speedy resolution of the problem rather than inviting all the parties to Accra to go through formal proceedings.


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