General Politics

Akufo-Addo would’ve been in jail if people were prosecuted for false news – Kwakye Ofosu

Former Deputy Information Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, has condemned the recent arrest and subsequent prosecution of journalists and citizens for publication of false news.

According to him, experiencing this phenomenon in the Akufo-Addo-led administration shows that “we are in serious trouble.”

Speaking on JoyNews’ AM Show on Tuesday, the aspiring MP for Abura Asebu Kwamankese said the country cannot criminalise speech.

He added that President Akufo-Addo would have been a culprit if this principle is applied to him before he was elected President.

“We cannot criminalise speech. People cannot go to jail because they said something that was untrue. If that principle was ever applied to President Akufo-Addo who is applying it now, he would not have been President. He would have ended up in jail because I know for a fact that on three or four occasions, he said absolutely false things.”

“One of the things was that he said President Mahama had printed diaries to the tune of 10million dollars. If this law was applied, he wouldn’t be President but be in jail.”

He cited the arrest of Power FM presenter, Oheneba Boamah; Accra FM presenter, Kwabena Bobie Ansah and ASEPA’s Mensah Thomspon, who have fallen foul of section 207, 208 of the Criminal Offenses Act.

“The case that sent Oheneba was initiated by the Attorney General. So there is no dispute. What he said related to the President and the President took exception and had his A-G file contempt charges against him which made him go to prison for 14 days.”

“If in this day and age, somebody can go to prison for two days, for saying something the President believes is untrue, then we are in serious trouble. The matter relating to Bobbie Ansah revolves around something he said about the First Lady and wife of the Vice President. In any serious jurisdiction, investigative bodies would have moved in to ascertain whether or not the First Lady and wife of the Vice President had abused their positions to do anything irregular.”

JoyNews/AdomNews · Akufo-Addo would’ve been in jail if people were prosecuted for false news – Kwakye Ofosu
He added: “But in Ghana, we are actually targeting the journalist for potential imprisonment. ASEPA, what did he really say. He said the President’s relatives used the Presidential aircraft over Christmas. How is in the world does this raise a situation where you arraign him and a potential to imprison him?

The President himself, in the period where he was campaigning to be President, said many things I know to be false.”

Interacting with host, Benjamin Akakpo, Mr Kwakye Ofosu noted that he believes all these circumstances stem from the President’s posturing.

According to him, President Akufo-Addo has been unconcerned over several issues such as the violence and deaths recorded during the 2020 general elections, corruption-related issues and the chartering of private flights although the presidential jet is considered functional.

“Here is a president who has not cared that eight Ghanaians were gunned down in the cause of elections. He has not even publicly commented on the matter. He has not expressed commiserations with the families who lost their relatives. He has not indicated any preparedness to compel the security agencies to look into those killings to punish the culprits.”

“Look at the issue of corruption. We know of two cases that have arisen. Some are so glaring and the evidence is there and yet the President has not taken any action or whatsoever against the people who belong to his government who were engaged in this.”

“We are talking about a president who in hard times decides to live lavishly. Apart from allocating over ¢3 billion to his office, he decides that despite our ownership of a presidential jet, which is safe for purpose according to the Defence Minister, he will fly in an aircraft that costs $14,000 an hour and despite public criticism, he will not listen.”

He said, “there is hardly anything that is happening in this country that is desirable. It is making the lives of Ghanaians miserable.”

Meanwhile, to ensure this is curtailed, Felix Ofosu Kwakye has entreated Ghanaians not to countenance the recent arrest of individuals over false speech.

False news and arrests

On February 8, 2022, Oheneba Boamah Bennie was sentenced to prison by the Accra High Court after the Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, charged him with contempt over his claims against President Akufo-Addo and judges.

Justice Elfreda Dankyi said the 36-year-old was guilty of breaching the peace and publishing false news, contrary to Sections 207 and 208 (1) respectively of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).

Oheneba Boamah is said to have recorded a live video on his Facebook page in which he was heard insulting and issuing series of threats to the President.

He claimed that the President, after the December 2020 polls, met with some judges, including the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah.

He claimed the meeting was an attempt by the President to influence the judges if the opposition candidate, John Mahama, decided to petition the courts over the election results.

On February 21, he was released from the Nsawam Prison.

Over the matter, legal practitioners and some members of the public have expressed concern over the misapplication of Sections 207 and 208 of the Criminal Offences Act by the police.

Chief Policy Analyst at the GIPO, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, D&D Fellow in Public Law and Justice at CDD-Ghana, Professor Kweku Asare and Private Legal Practitioner and Professor of Accounting, Professor Kweku Asare are among those opposing the criminalisation of speech.

According to them, the police are using the back door to introduce the repealed Criminal Libel law.

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