Municipal Chief Executive threatens radio presenter over Facebook post, commentary

A radio presenter at Source FM in the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region of Ghana, has accused the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Hon. Hamza Amadu, of issuing a threat against him.

Simon Alega Asimiga, the radio presenter, told the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in a telephone conversation that the MCE called him on phone, rebuked him, and threatened, “I will deal with you.”

The phone confrontation followed a Facebook post and commentary by Asimiga regarding an interview the MCE granted to another Bawku-based radio station, Gumah FM. In the said interview, which was also streamed live on Facebook, Hon. Amadu reportedly claimed to be the best Bawku MCE in recent times. In a news bulletin, and subsequently on his Facebook wall, Asimiga questioned that claim. He also accused the MCE of relocating his residence to Bolgatanga, the regional capital and evading a question on the alleged relocation during the interview on Gumah FM.

Angered by the journalist’s comments, Hon. Amadu called to rebuke and threaten the journalist. The Manager of Source FM, Kimsa Salam Abdul Latif, confirmed Hon. Amadu’s call to Asimiga and expressed disappointment that the MCE did not deem it fit to contact the management of the station with his grievances, but rather called the journalist to intimidate him.

When contacted, Hon. Amadu told the MFWA in a telephone conversation that Asimiga had misrepresented him by reporting that he claimed to be the best Bawku MCE, explaining that he rather said “I want to be seen as the best Bawku MCE at the end of my tenure.”

Regarding Asimiga’s allegation that he has moved his residence from Bawku to Bolgatanga and evaded that issue during his interview on Gumah FM, the MCE said that issue never came up in the interview.

“I cannot be said to have evaded a question that my interviewer did not ask,” Hon. Amadu debunked.

He, however, admitted having called Asimiga in anger to confront him over his news report and Facebook post about the said interview on Gumah FM. In the said call (a recording of which has been shared with the MFWA), the MCE rebuked the journalist for misrepresenting him, amidst threats to “deal with” him and sue or report him to the National Media Commission (NMC), the media regulator.

Hon. Amadu told the MFWA he was angry because this is the fourth time Asimiga has made negative comments about him. He, however, denied that he meant to personally harm the journalist, adding that he made it clear that he was going to drag him before the NMC or the courts.

Much as the MFWA recognises the right of Hon. Amadu to refute any unfavourable allegations made against him, he should have used proper channels such as a formal rejoinder or complaint to the journalist’s employers or the NMC as he himself hinted. The call to intimidate the journalists was, therefore, uncalled for.

We urge the parties to seek a negotiated settlement of this issue. Also, given the volatile security situation in Bawku and the myriad socio-economic challenges arising therefrom, we encourage the media in Bawku to exhibit the highest professional standards and be sensitive to the context in which they are operating.

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