GBA Condemns arrest Of Citi Fm boss

Samuel Attah-Mensah
The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has condemned the arrest of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Citi FM, Samuel Attah-Mensah, by officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

According to the GBA, the BNI’s action was not only an affront to free speech and press freedom but also a crude reminder of the era of the culture of silence and the dark days in the nation’s developmental history.

Mr Atta-Mensah, popularly called Samens, was arrested a day after his online media, published a story about the arrest of the suspected drug dealer, Nayele Ametefeh, aka Ruby Adu-Gyamfi, who supposedly carried a Ghanaian diplomatic passport.

He was also not allowed access to a lawyer.
In a statement signed by Abayateye Amegatcher, National President of GBA and Justin Agbeli Amenuvor, National secretary of GBA, it noted with great concern a growing trend by the National Security, the BNI and other state security agencies to ‘invite’ journalists ostensibly for questioning or assist in investigations in media reportage where a government agency or person in government happened to be mentioned.

Equally of concern, it said, was the persistent denial of right to a counsel in such investigations in breach of the constitutional provisions and the justification given to the invitation by President John Mahama.

The GBA said free speech is a right which is necessary for the survival of any democracy, adding that ‘it is a doom to democracy and a dent on the international reputation of a country when its security agencies try to stifle the media.’

‘It is important to note that there is a world trend towards non-criminalisation of speech and Ghana should not be seen as swimming against this tide,’ it said.

The GBA said the constitution and laws of Ghana have provided processes for redress (however inadequate one may consider them to be) for any person

whose reputation is maligned in any manner in a publication by the media.

It said in an era where the rule of law holds sway, ‘it is unacceptable for the government to use its security agencies to invite the media to explain or provide the source of their reportage while the citizen’s recourse to media excesses is through due process.’

The GBA said such ploys in the name of the security of the state or national security have the tendency of silencing or intimidating the media to withhold blowing the whistle on matters in which the government and its functionaries were connected to.

‘This is an abhorrent trend which should not be allowed in our present democratic dispensation,’ it said.

By Cephas Larbi

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