The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is appalled at the mob storming of Accra-based UTV during a live broadcast and demands swift and severe retribution.
The brazen attack occurred shortly after the start of the station’s United Showbiz programme on October 7, 2023. A group of thugs which has since been identified to be affiliated to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), stormed the studio, threatening to attack the presenter and her guests.
The violent intrusion forced the station to go off air for a few minutes, only to return to playing commercials. The MFWA has learnt that the main target of the thugs is Kwame A Plus, a media and political activist and outspoken regular guest on the show, and we are particularly concerned about the sequence of events leading to the attack on the television station.
In the first place, the leadership of the NPP wrote a letter to the Despite Media Group, operators of UTV to express concern that the panel was biased and critical of the government. In the subsequent edition of the programme, Kwame A Plus dismissed the content of the NPP letter, described it as intimidating and tore up a copy of it live on air. The media personality has since reported receiving threats from suspected NPP supporters, who apparently decided to execute their threats with the brazen invasion of UTV on October 7, 2023.
While we condemn the attack, we wish to commend the police for their swift intervention in arresting 16 of the thugs. We will be following the case, and hope that it will be pursued to its logical conclusion.
We also commend the government, for condemning, through the Ministry of Information, the assault on the TV station and reaffirming its commitment to press freedom. We have also noted the NPP party’s statement deploring the incident and dissociating itself from the act of thuggery. We urge the NPP leadership to go further to investigate the incident and apply the relevant party disciplinary measures against the perpetrators.
The attack on UTV is the fourth in less than two years in Ghana, after similar violent invasions of Radio Ada (Greater Accra Region), Benya FM, (Elmina, Central Region), Radio Dagbon (Tamale Central Region). Incidentally, the perpetrators in the last three cases were political party affiliates. We, therefore, call on political party leaders to call their supporters to order to stem the tide.