Outspoken member of the governing New Patriotic Party and nephew of the current President, Gabby Asare Otchere Darko has taken on investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni over his claims that there is a growing ‘culture of silence’ and threats against journalism and free speech under the current administration.
A senior citizen, Mr Sam Jonah became the latest person to share in Manasseh’s assertion when he decried the culture of silence under the incumbent Akufo-Addo administration.
According to Sam Jonah, individuals and civil society organizations that used to speak up against have all gone silent under the government of Akufo-Addo, despite what he described as the existence of wanton corruption, killing and torturing of journalists, and rising moral degeneration in the Ghanaian society.
Reacting to the statement by the senior citizen, Manasseh in a Facebook post questioned whether the senior citizen by his comments could be said to be bitter or a hater of the President as he, Manasseh, has been labelled by a host of Akufo-Addo administration apologists.
The open question by Manasseh attracted a reply from Gabby Asare Otchere Darko who argued that people’s personal respective disagreements with Manasseh on certain issues cannot be attributed to the government promoting a culture of silence.
“Since, you Manasseh Azure Awuni is admirably one of the loudest critics of government, you are probably in a very good position to answer the question you are asking,” Gabby wrote on Facebook.
“But, with a rider: those who would come out to loudly disagree with your view, one way or the other, should not be seen as seeking to silence you! Culture of Silence is, of course, marked by intolerance. But, how is that defined? Is it state-sponsored intolerance or any form of violent reaction to a point of view, in words or in deeds?”
Sharing from his own personal experience, Gabby who was once a newspaper editor wrote:
“Under President Kufuor, at a time that journalists breathed a strong sigh of relief, with the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, for months I had to endure a 24-hour personal police protection because I had received multiple real threats and indeed suffered physical attacks, one such attack in the full glare of the media, at the vicinity of the venue of the National Reconciliation Commission, after being harsh with my written and spoken word on some key members of the Opposition, notably for calling Prof Mills a ‘poodle’. I never made the threats or the protection public. Only a few close friends like Abdul Malik Kweku Baako were aware. My protection was arranged by National Security Coordinator Francis Poku.”
Thus in answering Manasseh’s question, Gabby in his post questioned the investigative journalist whether he would have “been right to stretch the threats and attacks on my life then as an expression of a culture of silence?”
However, in an immediate response, Manasseh taking to the comment section of Gabby’s post stated: “In every administration, we have such isolated incidents, but the handshake is beginning to extend beyond the elbow so it’s no longer just pleasantries that are being exchanged. I started receiving death threats in 2017 and no one heard about it. Until Prof. Kwame Karikari mentioned the South Africa trip, I went and came quietly. There are many I have endured quietly. So this isn’t about using just my personal issue as the basis for judgment.”
Manasseh Azure Awuni added: “I have written about this and cited a number of incidents that have become a disturbing rhythm. I hope they are addressed. There are many journalists I know who are very scared to speak up. You may want to commission the capable Danquah Institute to independently research in this area even if it won’t be published.”
Source : Ghanaweb