Stop denying journalists access to cover election & public events – MNC tells EC&Security agencies
The National Media Commission (NMC) has advised Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) and the security agencies to desist from denying journalists access to cover public events because they have no accreditation.
The MNC described such practice as unconstitutional which must stop.
The MNC Chairman, Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh maintained that journalists don’t need accreditation from the EC to carry out their work at polling stations when covering elections.
The chairman said it is not the responsibility of the EC to accredit journalists to cover polling station activities which is a public event.
The MNC chairman stated that the Ghana journalist Association normally send list of journalists to the EC for accreditation during elections for the purposes of human relations but not under any obligation.
He said covering a public event by journalists was guranteed in the 1992 constitution which the EC also derives its powers from and therefore can’t arrogate any power to themselves to determine how journalists should carry out their work.
The EC is independent, where did they take their independence, from the constitution Mr Ayeboafoh stated.
Mr Ayeboafoh made it clear that if the right parameters were not set now, police in Ghana will soon demand accreditation from journalists when they are carrying out swoops.
” If we don’t say this one clear, tomorrow when the police are organizing a swoop and you go there as a journalist they will say go and get accreditation otherwise they will beat you because they beat journalists all the time and after they apologize; Why do they apologize, because they recognize that they are wrong ” Mr Ayeboafoh emphasized.
The MNC chairman was speaking in Tamale during a Media Convention organized by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in collaboration with the U. S Embassy in Ghana.
The convention which was on the theme; The 2020 Election: Role of the Media in Promoting Civility and Discerning in the Political Discourse, brought together journalists from Northern, North East, Oti Upper East Regions, political parties representatives, the military and the police.
The veteran journalist made it clear that covering public events by journalists was never a privilege for journalists but a right and urged state agencies, especially security personnel in the country to have that at the back of their minds.
The MNC chairman said the commission would not encourage journalists in the country to misbehave but will not also accept any move by either the EC or any state entity to restrict the work of journalists.
The media, Mr Ayeboafoh explained derives their powers from article 21(a) of the 1992 constitution, same constitution EC also drives its powers from.
Mr Ayeboafoh further explained that unless it is clearly stated that the area is restricted like ‘the Strong Room’ at the EC headquarters which practitioners have to be accredited.
The seasoned journalist cum lawyer said he has never had accreditation throughout his practice but had covered public events and expect colleagues not to face obstacles in the line of their work.
Mr Ayeboafoh who spoke passionately was responding to Northern Regional Director of Electoral Commission on the matters of being given accreditation before allowing journalists access at polling stations.
Mr Ayeboafoh said even journalists with accreditation seeking information from EC officials are sometimes being denied.
On opinion polls conducted by media houses, the former editor of the Daily Graphic Newspaper said he sees nothing wrong with it.
According to him, credible media houses with the necessary expertise can form opinions based on polling stations results during elections but not to declare winners which is the constitutional mandate of the EC.
Northern Regional Director of Electoral Commission (EC) Mr Lucas Yiryel said the commission simply want to regulate activities of journalists at the polling stations and also to ensure orderliness.
He explained that the Electoral Management Body demands accreditation for two reasons, safety of the journalist and also to ensure orderliness during election process. ” If anything happens to the journalists at a polling station, we can defined him or her” Mr Yiriyel stressed.
Mr Yiryel said the EC can’t denied journalists access but just to formalized media participation work, particularly when they are seeking clarifications from presiding officers or polling station assistance.