MFWA supports Ghana Journalists’ Association’s call for media blackout on Fisheries Minister

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) fully endorses and supports the decision of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to impose a total media blackout for Ghana’s Fisheries Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, and stay away from her as Member of Parliament, Minister of State or any other public capacity and position she may hold.

Given the increasing spate of crimes against journalists, the apathetic attitude of the state toward such crimes and the consequent growing impunity for such crimes, the MFWA believes that it is time for the media community to take drastic measures to ensure that the rights of journalists are protected and safety of journalists guaranteed.

The MFWA commends the GJA for the bold decisive decision and wishes to join the Association in appealing to all media houses and journalists in the country to adhere to the decision of the GJA. Indeed, the MFWA wishes to add that the media boycott must include all activities of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, as long as Madam Koomson remains the sector minister.

The decision of the GJA follows the attack of David Kobbena, a journalist with Cape FM, by thugs alleged to be supporters of Madam Koomson. The incident, which occurred on January 4, 2024, has been widely condemned by the GJA and the MFWA.

Kobbena, known on radio as Ohene Kwame David, is a senior presenter on Cape FM located in Cape Coast, the capital of Ghana’s Central Region. He had gone to the Central Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to cover the vetting of some aspiring members of parliament for the ruling New Patriotic Party in the region when he was assaulted.

The journalist told the MFWA that he was sitting under a summer hut at the RCC premises when two ladies called and asked him if he was one Jacob. According to the ladies, the said Jacob was wanted for insulting Hawa Koomson during a panel discussion on Accra-based UTV.

David said about half an hour after the ladies had left following his explanation that he had never been on any UTV panel, a gentleman also appeared and levelled the same accusation against him. The political thug pulled out a picture of the wanted UTV panelist and insisted it was David’s.

“As I was explaining that it was a case of mistaken identity, even showing him my press card, one person arrived and slapped me from the back. Before I could turn, another slap. About fifteen thugs pounced on me and started beating me, saying I am the one who insulted Hawa Koomson on UTV,” the journalist told the MFWA.

David Kobbena was rescued by his fellow journalists present. According to the victim, Hawa Koomson herself also came around after hearing of the assault and left without saying a word, after she was briefed by her boys.

The victim reported the matter to the NPP executives who were conducting the vetting. He also reported the matter to the Kotokoraba Police Station which issued him a medical form to seek treatment at a hospital.

The MFWA is deeply concerned about this umpteenth assault on journalists by political thugs and demands immediate action from all concerned. We urge the NPP as a political party to demand answers from Hawa Koomson and to compel the Minister to identify the perpetrators for disciplinary action. The assailants of the journalist, having explicitly declared their action to be in retaliation for alleged insults against her, and having denied sanctioning the assault, the Minister owes it to herself to help the police find the thugs whose action seeks to bring her into disrepute.

Given the violence that was unleashed before and during the 2020 elections, including attacks on journalists, it is important for all stakeholders in the political arena to commit to tolerant, civil and violent-free conduct. To this end, all political parties and politicians must act lawfully and demonstrate abhorrence for lawless conduct by their supporters by punishing and publicly disowning them.

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