Ghana: Caution of elections boss to journalists, pastor’s alleged US$100,000 bribe reported in Ghana

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Criticisms of journalists by the chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) during the 21st awards night of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), and an allegation of a minister of one of the biggest Orthodox churches that he was offered US$100,000, a 4x4 car and an expensive house to keep quiet were some of the stories highlighted in Ghana this week.

The media also played up an abortive attempt by MPs of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) for a parliamentary committee to investigate a gift of a vehicle given to President John Dramani Mahama.

'Don’t be mercenaries; EC boss advises journalists', was the headline of the state-owned Graphic on the advice of the EC chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei, who urged media owners and journalists to resist any attempt to be used as mercenaries in the run-up to the December general election.

“Doing so will hinder the growth of the media and turn the admiration people ought to have for the media into disdain and contempt. A journalist who allows himself or herself to be used as an agent of destruction is not different from the proverbial goat which aims at destroying the wall but ends up losing its fur,” she stated.

Mrs Osei said the power of the media as a constructive and destructive force ought not to be underestimated, noting that the use of that power ought to be geared towards the desire and willingness to ensure that the right things would be done in the country.

Addressing the awards ceremony in Accra last Saturday, she said the core mandate of the media in an election year should be directed at “working to sustain the peace and unity of this country”.

Investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas was named Journalist of the Year 2015 for his investigative piece on judicial corruption that led to the dismissal of some judges.

The headline of the state-owned Ghanaian Times read, 'Stop insults, attacks - EC boss' with the story saying Mrs. Osei called for sanity in the media landscape in the run-up to the 7 December presidential and parliamentary polls.

Mrs. Osei, who was the guest speaker at the 21st GJA Awards night, said a sanitised and well informed media was critical for the success of the election.

The EC chair observed that the media was filled with insults and attacks on personalities and institutions and stressed the need for media practitioners and owners to conduct themselves well during the election period.

She said the conduct and misconduct of media practitioners could have far-reaching consequence on the success of the elections.

The story of the Ghanaian Times on claims by the immediate past Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Martey, one of the most bitter critics of President Mahama and his government read, 'Presby Moderator accuses politicians of bribery'.

The newspaper said Rev. Martey accused politicians of attempting to gag him with bribes claiming that he was offered US$100,000 dollars, a 4×4 vehicle and a house at Trasacco Estates, one of the most luxurious areas, to refrain from expressing his views on matters affecting the nation. He failed to substantiate his allegation.

He said since he rejected the offer, he had been receiving threatening text messages and phone calls.

He said the Bible enjoined him to speak on societal ills and he would not keep mute while “thieves and babies with sharp teeth” attempted to run him down for speaking the truth.

Rev. Prof. Martey said he would continue to criticise the government and demand accountability from its leadership, because he is a Ghanaian and taxpayer, adding that he would have done same if the opposition NPP were in power. He has been criticised for openly supporting the NPP.

The Graphic had the headline, 'Some politicians tried bribing me with US$100,000' with the story saying Rev. Prof. Martey stirred controversy when he alleged that some unnamed politicians tried to gag him from speaking on issues of national concern with a US$100,000-bribe and other incentives.

Falling short of mentioning names, he said: “Politicians have tried to muscle me but they can’t."

“These people were lucky I did not have big dogs in my house... I’d have released the dogs to bite them for the whole world to ask, ‘Oh Moderator, why are you so wicked?’ and I’d have told them to ask them what they came to do,” he said.

But the claim of the moderator has received a backlash as he has failed to name those who tried to bribe him.

In a new angle, the dismissed Public Relations Officer of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Dr. Emmanuel Osei Acheampong, has also claimed that the Reverend Minister actually took the money and vehicle which he told him came from an opposition party.

Dr. Acheampong, who was fired by the Church a few years ago, said Rev. Martey was throwing dust in the eyes of the public, adding that a leading member of one of the opposition parties presented the money to Rev. Martey.

He said that he was sacked when they drew the pastor’s attention to the fact that he was overly dabbling in politics at variance with principles of his office.

Dr Acheampong also claimed Rev. Martey gave him US$50,000 dollars which he rejected.

Many organisaions and individuals are asking for an investigation by the security agencies into the allegation.

Parliament was recalled on Thursday at the request of the main opposition NPP to discuss a gift of a vehicle given to President Mahama while he was vice president and which was sent to the pool of vehicles at the Flagstaff House, the seat of government.

The vehicle was given by Mr Jibrille Kanazoe, a Burkina Faso contractor who had worked on the Ghana Embassy building in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, as well as a road in Ghana.

The opposition has described the vehicle as a bribe and some members have asked the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate. The government has not denied that the president was given the gift but said it was received by the Ghana Embassy in Ouagadougou, documented and sent to the pool of government vehicles.

The headline of the story by Graphic on activities in Parliament read, 'No show as Speaker stops Minority action'. The story said what was billed to be a showdown between the Majority and the Minority in Parliament on Thursday over a motion initiated by the Minority Caucus for a probe into the gift to the President turned out to be a no-show.

“In just about 12 minutes, the Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, dismissed the motion by the Minority Caucus, as a result of which there was no debate,” the Graphic reported.

The import, therefore, is that the Minority Members of Parliament have failed in their bid to get Parliament to investigate the vehicle gift to the President.

The Speaker ruled that the matter the Minority wanted Parliament to wade into was already being investigated by the CHRAJ.

The opposition described the ruling by the Speaker as the “most cabalistic display of power witnessed in Parliament since the beginning of the Fourth Republic”.

According to the Minority, while not contesting the discretionary powers given to the Speaker to admit or not to admit questions, motions and proposals submitted to him, he ought to, in the exercise of such powers, be regulated within the confines of the Constitution.
-0- PANA MA/AR 3Sept2016

03 september 2016 06:47:31

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