Last week, armed agents of the ministry of National Security, reportedly barged into the offices of a small online media outfit, Modern Ghana.com, in Accra where they manhandled and subjected clearly frightened reporters to hours of needless questioning and intrusive searches.
Eventually, the armed goons marched off with a distraught senior editor in handcuffs along with confiscated laptops and documents.
Unfortunately, the incident conjured dastardly images of countries where freedom of the press isn’t guaranteed and reporters are intimidated, threatened, jailed and in some instances physically eliminated.
The last time I checked, Ghana is a liberal democracy and incidents of this nature are supposed to be a far cry, a thing of the past.
Regrettably, the armed intrusion into a peaceful, orderly office space, ugly in all its ramifications, confirmed what some of us have been harping all along, which is that the NPP administration, despite its pronouncements, is unabashedly a threat to press freedom in the country. It just pays lip service to this fundamental democratic concept.
And if anyone out there doubts this frank and honest assertion and wonders if there is enough irrefutable evidence to back up this claim, they needn’t look further than a few months ago when the administration outrageously shut down radio stations on purely ideological grounds.
In addition, it has had no qualms boycotting some media houses and sidelining so called prominent Ghanaian reporters who had exposed endemic corruption and graft in the administration.
To date the government or better still, Mr. Albert Ken Dapaah the minister in charge of National Security hasn’t offered a tangible explanation for what took place in the offices of Modern Ghana.com.
However, according to reliable sources, Mr. Dapaah was apparently miffed that an article published by the website was critical of him. So, the angry Mr. Dapaah decided to flex his political muscle by dispatching his armed goons to teach reporters at Modern Ghana.com a lesson and boy, did they teach the reporters a lesson.
I am no longer taken aback, surprised or shocked by the government’s reaction to so called bad press. What is abundantly clear to all, however, is that this administration hates criticism. It sure does not want attention drawn to its numerous faults and gross ineptitude.
No wonder the administration harbors such disdain and scorn for those reporters enterprising and brave enough to expose its shortcomings. Nonetheless, our constitution guarantees free speech and freedom of the Press, but this fundamental right is undermined at every opportunity by Mr. Dapaah and others like him.
Be that as it may, Mr. Dapaah and by extension the ruling NPP administration ought to be embarrassed by the heavy-handedness and the poor treatment of the reporters at Modern Ghana.com.
Mr. Dapaah’s apparent lack of leadership and foresight account for the ugly spectacle that unfolded at the offices of the website.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Security ministry under Mr. Dapaah’s guidance has run amok. It does what it pleases --- violating the fundamental rights of Ghanaian citizens and isn’t held accountable. This is dangerous territory, almost bordering on authoritarianism.
Need I say that Mr. Dapaah is fast becoming an albatross around the neck of the administration, and until somebody in the upper echelons of the party calls the incalcitrant Mr. Dapaah to order, that is bring him down from his high horse, we will continue to have ugly incidents like what occurred at Modern Ghana.com.