The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo says the member of parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, did no wrong in publishing photos of undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and members of his investigative team.
Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a member of Anas' Tiger Eye PI team, whose photo was also publicized by the MP, was murdered Wednesday night after he was shot three times by unidentified men on a motorbike.
When the MP published the photos of the journalist in his "who watches the watchman" video documentary, he also called on his associates and members of the public to "deal with them" after he accused them of maligning him and others with their investigative work.
But speaking at a news conference organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in Accra on Thursday, January 17, 2019, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo said while he condemns Mr Agyapong's call to violence, particularly his offer of a ransom for anyone who succeeded at dealing with Hussein-Suale, he thought the MP did no wrong by the mere publishing of the journalist's photo.
There are publications suggesting Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo has supported Mr. Agyapong in his actions, but he explained that when the incident happened, a radio station in Accra called him for his views on the matter and that at the time of the call, he was driving but due to the nature of the situation, he decided to speak to them.
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“I was called by a radio station and in the middle of a situation of this, I could not have said that I will not talk. I told the people that I was driving. In fact, I was at Mallam Junction and those who use the road know the nature of that road that when you are driving on that road and you are talking. And because of the significance of the development, I said that I will talk.
And I started by condemning what has happened. And then the journalist asked me about Kennedy Agyapong and I said please, you know at this critical stage; at this early stage of the development, it is important we do not bring in names. Then he said but he showed the photograph and I said, look, the mere showing of the photograph cannot be construed as criminality. But beyond the photograph, I mean, to offer reward for people who may go and do harm to this individual…is criminal.
I ended by citing an anecdote. An anecdote where a son was so angry with the father that he told the father that I will kill you. And he sharpened a cutlass and put it down. But afterwards, he had a new thinking and decided not to kill the father. Now, in the den of the night, a nephew of the man went and took that same cutlass and went and killed the father. Now, the next morning, it was reported that the man had been killed. It was the son who was arrested. And so I told them that if indeed if Kennedy Agyapong has promised to reward anybody who will accost these individuals and do harm to them, then the police must ask him to respond. And if police finds sufficient evidence, then they should deal with him. This was what I told them. Now the headline says that NMC Chairman defends Kennedy Agyapong,” Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo explained.
According to him, the radio station that called him misquoted him, saying “If as media people, we do not report what is right and we choose and use and distort information, we create enmity for the profession of journalism; we create enmity for ourselves.”
“If tomorrow somebody should report those people to me that they have misquoted, I will find it difficult to defend them at the press centre because they have done it to me,” he said.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo has therefore challenged the security agencies to do everything possible to unravel the killers of the journalist.
He said the murder of Ahmed Hussein-Suale meant that freedom of the media “has been curtailed and freedom of expression has been undermined.”
“We need to join hands in letting the authorities know; in letting the world know that we will resist anything of this nature,” he said.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafo said the country’s constitution guarantees the freedom of expression as well as the freedom of the media and was not right for anyone to kill a journalist for doing his work.
“We have a constitution that does not only guarantee the freedom of expression but which additionally guarantees the freedom of the media,” he said, adding “and so when you have a journalist practicing his job and his life is cruelly cut short like this, it’s a double jeopardy.”