The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Oppong Nkrumah has said that the government is not aware that the journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni’s recent travel outside the country was due to safety reasons.
He said the government had provided adequate protection for the journalist in the country when he initially complained about threats on his life over his recent video documentary titled “Militia at the Heart of the Nation.”
In an interview on Asempa FM, the Minister said the government is committed at ensuring the safety and protection of journalists.
“Government through the National Security Minister provided the journalist with adequate security after he first complained about threats on his life. We may disagree on matters but we will not encourage and endorse any attack on a journalist,” Mr. Nkrumah said.
Media reports suggested that Mr. Awuni had left the country following reactions to his documentary and threats on his life.
The conversations were based on statements made by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Professor Kwame Karikari, who said in an address during an occasion to mark the 2019 World Press Freedom Day in Ghana that Manasseh spent most part of March and April this year running and hiding from unknown identities.
“In most of March and April this year, the very well known and respected investigative journalist of Multimedia fame Manasseh Azure Awuni spent virtually all of March and April this year running and hiding from rogue elements of unknown identities who were bent on campaign to murder him. At first, Manasseh’s employers kept moving him from hiding place to hiding place. The police came in to provide him bodyguards for protection during the day. Even this was not enough. The threat got so unbearable, the media Foundation for West Africa had to step in to find refuge or save heaven for him in a foreign country,” he said.
But Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah in his response said Mr. Awuni never made mention of that when he met him two weeks ago in Accra.
He said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is not anti-media freedom as claimed by critics of this administration.
“Press freedom is key to this government and the NPP has a record to support this point in the history of our governance. The repeal of the Criminal Libel Law under the Kufuor Administration and the passage of the RTI under President Akufo-Addo are enough examples to buttress my point,” he said.
The Minister has said that the government intends to improve the safety of journalists in the country by introducing a coordinating mechanism on the safety of journalists by July 2019.
Ghana drops in Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders in its recent World Press Freedom Index saw Ghana lose its spot as the best-ranked countries for press freedom in Africa. It moved to 2nd after being overtaken by Namibia.
The drop was attributed mainly to the murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale earlier in 2019.
Globally, the country dropped from 23 in 2018 to 27 in 2019.
The celebration of the 2019 World Press Freedom Day was held in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on the theme, “Media for Democracy, Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”