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GJA’s statement on detention of Timothy Gobah by Oguaa Traditional Council

BY: Graphic Online

The Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) has reacted to last Friday’s detention of Timothy Gobah, a correspondent of Graphic in the Central Region by Oguaa Traditional Council.

According to a statement issued by GJA Preisdent, Mr Affail Monney,” Notwithstanding the veracity or otherwise of the said story, the GJA believes the Oguaa Traditional Council could have handled the matter in a better way than detaining the reporter.”

“As a legal entity at the helm of justice delivery at the local level, the traditional council could have availed itself of rights accorded it by law such as the right to rejoinder guaranteed under Article 162(6) of the 1992 Constitution to set the records straight.”

Below is a copy of the GJA statement on the issue

PRESS RELEASE

April 28, 2019

Detention of Daily Graphic Reporter By Oguaa Traditional Council Unlawful

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The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has learnt with dismay the detention of Timothy Gobah, Central Regional Correspondent of the Daily Graphic, by the Oguaa Traditional Council for the publication of a story in the national daily, which the council considered inaccurate. Following the launch of this year’s Fetu Afahye on Friday, April 26, 2019, Gobah filed a story on the event but the traditional council contended it was misrepresentation of facts. Aggrieved by the perceived misrepresentation, it subsequently summoned the reporter to the Omanhene’s Palace, seized his mobile phone and detained him for about one hour until the police intervened.

After investigating the matter by interacting with the reporter, eyewitnesses and the Tufuhene of the Oguaa Traditional Area, the GJA leadership believes the story in question was about an event that occurred on the day around the precincts of the venue where the Fetu Afahye was launched. However, the action by the agitated youth was not intended to disrupt the launching ceremony as the report suggested.

Notwithstanding the veracity or otherwise of the said story, the GJA believes the Oguaa Traditional Council could have handled the matter in a better way than detaining the reporter. As a legal entity at the helm of justice delivery at the local level, the traditional council could have availed itself of rights accorded it by law such as the right to rejoinder guaranteed under Article 162(6) of the 1992 Constitution to set the records straight.

By disregarding the rule of law and, instead, resorting to detention for redress, Nananom were seeking to punish a person who had not been convicted of any crime, which is a clear violation of the rule of natural justice. Furthermore, the action by Nananom in taking the law into their own hands may set a bad precedent for their subjects to follow. And that is very dangerous for democratic governance and development. It is for these reasons that the GJA condemns the detention of the Daily Graphic reporter by Nananom as unlawful and unwarranted.

Over the years, the media in the Central Region had had very cordial relations with the Oguaa Traditional Council and, indeed, partnered the council in all its activities, including the celebration of Fetu. Given such cordial relations, the GJA expected the Oguaa Traditional Council to have engaged the Management of Graphic Communication Group Limited and/or the leadership of the GJA to resolve the matter rather than resorting to an action that the council, by virtue of its legal disposition, is mandated to discourage. As partners in development, it is important for traditional authorities and the media to always work together to promote national development and improve the lives of our people.

The GJA wishes to take this opportunity to advise its members and media practitioners in general to be diligent and circumspect in the discharge of their constitutional mandate. They must endeavour, at all times, to crosscheck their facts before publication and also give hearing to the other side of the story.

The GJA wishes to express profound appreciation to the Central Regional Police Command for its timely intervention to release the reporter from the captivity of Nananom. We urge the Command to continue to protect journalists in the region and ensure that the rule of law is upheld at all times.

Affail Monney
(President)