Police arrest 16 for invading UTV
The police have picked up 16 suspected hooligans for allegedly invading the studios of Accra-based television station, UTV, to interrupt a live programme last Saturday night.
A statement issued by the police yesterday said the 16 persons were arrested following a complaint by the owners of UTV, Despite Media Group, and the Ministry of Information (MoI).
The police said the suspects were assisting with investigations.
Scores of organisations and individuals roundly condemned the needless attack and interruption of the live broadcast of United Showbiz, a late night programme of UTV, which reviews entertainment-related issues with various panellists.
This was after a video of what resulted in the interruption had gone viral on the various social media platforms.
In the videos, the suspects were spotted at the television station claiming they were looking for the musician, Kwame A-Plus, an activist and a regular panellist on the programme.
During the previous edition of United Showbiz, A-Plus was on record to have torn into pieces a letter said to have been issued by the communication wing of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
While the said letter complained about the biased manner in which panellists on the show were selected, among others, A-Plus argued that the letter was needless since that entertainment show was not a political platform.
He added that under the 1992 Constitution, the communication wing of the NPP had no power to determine how media houses went about their work.
In reaction, the disgruntled suspects stormed the UTV studios to interrupt the show and demand A-Plus’ removal from the programme for tearing the said letter into pieces on a live show.
The National Media Commission (NMC) and the Ministry of Information (MoI) have since condemned the act in separate statements issued yesterday.
The NMC expressed worry about the increasing use of violence as the preferred method for addressing grievances against the media and journalists.
“Perpetrators of such crimes must realise that violence does not produce better journalism.
“This is why the Constitution provides anyone who feels aggrieved by the work of the media the opportunity to seek redress through the complaint settlement mechanism of the National Media Commission,” the statement signed by the Executive Secretary of the NMC, George Sarpong, said.
The NMC further urged political actors and all Ghanaians to appreciate that the country's future would not be built on the path of violent attacks on journalists, considering the fact that the incident happened ahead of the 2024 elections.
The Commission said it would roll out a comprehensive programme to reactivate with its key stakeholders the Coordinated Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists to ensure the media continued to operate without fear.
“In the meantime, we assure the public of our cooperation with the Ghana Police Service to get to the bottom of this matter,” the statement said.
Ministry of Information
A statement signed by the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the right to free expression and the freedom of the media were key pillars of the country’s democracy and must be fiercely protected.
“The ministry stands with the police and the courts in the conduct of their duties.
“The ministry wishes to encourage the media, especially broadcast media show hosts and panellists, to do their utmost to help promote national cohesion even as they exercise their fundamental freedoms,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, in a social media post, the NPP Director of Communications, Richard Ahiagbah, dissociated the party from the incident.
“We wish to state that the party did not sanction the said act,” he posted.
He, however, apologised to UTV, the programme’s team and the public, saying the party would fully comply with police investigations.
A statement signed by the National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi, also condemned the attack.
“Yesterday's event sets Ghana's democracy back and further erodes our fast dwindling press freedom as a country.
“Our press freedom and democratic credentials are under serious attack, and to remain silent in these times is to encourage the triumph of evil,” the statement said.
The NDC called on the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and other vanguards of free speech, civil society, as well as traditional and moral society to speak out to save the country’s press freedom credentials from eroding any further.