Ghana: Eid ul-Fitr stampede, politics played up in Ghana media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – A stampede during a jamboree organised to celebrate the Eid ul-Fitr in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, and the directive of the Supreme Court to the Electoral Commission (EC) on voters who registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards were some of the main stories reported by the media in Ghana this week.

The media also reported the outcry against panellists on a radio talk show who allegedly threatened the lives of judges.

“Sallah jamboree stampede: 9 dead, 6 injured,” was the headline of the state-owned Ghanaian Times on the fatalities during the jamboree held in Kumasi.

The story said nine revellers died and six others were injured in the stampede at the Asawase Community centre in Kumasi in the early hours of Thursday.

The newspaper said it was not immediately known what caused the stampede. It reported that while some claimed a fight broke out among the revellers, others attributed it to a power outage which saw several people crammed at the gate as they rushed for the exit.

The state-owned Graphic had the headline, “Sallahfest disaster: 9 victims buried.”

The story said there was a mixed feeling of anger and sorrow for family members of those who perished in the dawn stampede at the Asawase Community Centre.

It said the family members tried hard to hold back their tears after they had identified the bodies of their relatives before burial.
The incident occurred between 0200 and 0300 GMT on Thursday.

The newspaper quoted one of the revellers as saying the disaster struck when the power went off and everyone was rushing to get out.

“Remove NHIS card holders on voters’ list,” was the headline of the Ghanaian Times on the clarification of the Supreme Court on the raging controversy on the eligibility of those who registered as voters using the national health insurance cards in 2012 under an existing law.

The story said the Court by a unanimous decision on Tuesday clarified its judgement of 5 May, 2016 where it ordered the Electoral Commission to “take immediate steps” to delete the names of persons who used the NHIS cards.

The court said that in order not to violate the fundamental electoral rights of those affected as well as disenfranchise those who used the cards, the EC was to give adequate notice to the affected persons for them to re-register with proof of eligibility.

The Graphic had the headline, “Supreme Court orders EC to delete 56,739 voters,” with the story saying the Supreme Court ordered the EC to delete the 56,739 submitted to it as the list of NHIS registrants on the electoral roll.

In a unanimous decision read by Mr Justice Sule Gbadegbe, the court further ordered the EC to take all the necessary steps to delete other names of persons who registered with NHIS cards but which were not included in the list it presented to the court.

It asserted that the import of the orders meant that the EC was to give opportunity to people who would be affected to re-register if they qualified.

The court, however, dismissed other reliefs sought by the applicants saying they sought to reintroduce issues it ruled on earlier.

On the threat against judges by two panellists on an Accra-based radio station, Montie FM, the Graphic in a story under the headline, “Montie FM panelists, host to face Supreme Court July 12” said the Supreme Court had ordered the two men to appear before it on 12 July.

Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn are to appear before the court and defend themselves as to why they should not be punished.

The owner of Montie FM and Salifu Masse, alias Mugabe, the host of the programme, have also been ordered to appear before the apex court on the said date.

In another story with the headline, “Govt, Judicial Council, judges condemn two radio panellists” the Graphic reported that the government, the Judicial Council and the Association of Magistrates and Judges of Ghana (AMJG) had condemned utterances by the two political commentators.

The government in a statement signed by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Prosper Bani, said it frowned on “irresponsible and offensive comments” by political commentators and any section of the media.

It said although the government respected freedom of expression, it would not condone any action that would threaten the peace of the country.

For its part, the Judicial Council described the statements by Nelson and Gunn as “grave and disturbing’’.

The council said the statements by the two radio panellists were “unwarranted attack and an explicit threat on the lives of judges’’.
-0- PANA MA 9July2016

09 july 2016 07:57:43

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