13 October 2006

Ghana: Cocaine Matters Versus the Sanctity of Free Speech And National Security


The rate at which the nation is being subjected to blood curdling sabre-rattling, laced with highly inflammatory ethnocentric rhetorics demands the attention of every patriotic Ghanaian to impress upon every actor in this billowing build-up to cease we pray that nothing converts this pall of smoke into flames.

The Chronicle has been monitoring the various statements, monitoring relevant web sites, and weighing the content with particular reference to the stories surrounding the cocaine affair which has gripped centre stage in our national life.

The statements and press conferences, counter statements, defiant reactions, including the latest press conference by the so-called Ashanti Youth Club (AYC) and the statement from the Mmawerehene distancing himself from the AYC, have all succeeded inducing in some of the actors like Kwesi Pratt, a man with a well established martyr complex to raise the issues of power and authority, institutional and traditional, formal and constitutional to an unprecedented boiling point.

It is no secret that this paper was the first to publish the first story 'Kofi Boakye holds convention with Drug Barons' which was premised on conversation with suspected drug barons in which the popular policeman was heard making reference to 'Otumfuo's secretary' being sent to come and see him. The CD containing the recording was subsequently dropped off at the Premises of the Minister of Interior and made available to the Georgina Woode Committee.

It was also on the tape that the names of Tagor, Alhaji Moro and Alhaji Abass were also mentioned, the last two who were subsequently found to have more than casual connection to the Manhyia Palace, the official residence of the Overlord of the Ashanti kingdom and highly revered as every Omanhene, or Chief of every paramountcy. There is no disputing that some chiefs like the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and his predecessor Nana Opoku Ware II inherited a significantly more illustrious historical past, and the present occupant of the revered golden stool has on the face of media coverage alone done a lot to raise his standing among the comity of chiefs on the African continent.

Before we get stuck into the professional discourse on media and free speech, it is essential to mention that it would not serve any therapeutic purpose if we engage in the usual blame game.

It was the English sage C. Dodd who recognised that the tension between authority and freedom, between tradition and inspiration, cannot be safely resolved either by the repudiation of authority, or by the repression of inspiration.

TORRENT OF ABUSE The torrent of foul language that has greeted no less a personality than the illustrious Asantehene since his name came up in the 'Kofi Boakye Cocaine tape' is enough to provoke tears even from the most composed of men. The Chronicle is aware of the unguarded, highly defamatory and abusive references to the Otumfuo, some preferring to refer to him by his private name, 'Kwaku Duah'.

When one of Otumfuo's lawyers, Mr. Arhin spoke on air last Tuesday to stress the point that he appreciates that Otumfuo is not above the law, he made one reference to comments on the internet that is indeed wounding of the once great Asante Kingdom.

The Chronicle can attest to this and regrets that lawyer Arhin has actually done nothing about bringing legal action to clean this mess on Ghanaweb in particular and prefers to indulge in fanning ethnic embers.

In 2001, Ghanaweb, savaged Dr. Addo Kufuor, General Hamidu and continues to defame the President of Ghana in the most unprintable libellous manner.

It is a fact that three years ago, Mr.Kwamena Bartels gave a mandate to Kofi Coomson to get legal assistance to stop Ghanaweb from maintaining a defamatory file on him, and this was done successfully even after preliminary discussions before the legal action kicked in.

It is also a fact that Dr. Sam Jonah successfully secured a legal order against Ghana web, and legal authorities abound both in American and British case law that can be used to sanitize the purely debauched aspects of this generally valuable medium.

KUFUOR MEANS BUSINESS After initial scepticism, The Chronicle can say without any fear of contradiction that President John Agyekum Kufuor really means business. He means to get to the bottom of this cocaine mess, and quite rightfully, as the one in whom the fate of 20 million Ghanaians across all political frontiers is reposed, he must appreciate the enormous burden on his shoulders. The fact that he is from the Appagyafie and therefore by Asante custom, subject to the Asante stool, is utterly irrelevant to the modern concept of power and responsibility. It is a constitutional fact. It is a legal truism and it is our hope and belief that the Asante Council, the AYC, AYF and the general public recognise that. The Chronicle expects nothing less.

It is a historical fact that the founder of Ghanaian nationhood Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, conscious of the obstructionist tendencies of some chiefs in his time on his development agenda, dealt with them in a way that paved the way for some of his more lasting legacies on the Ghanaian landscape.

There is no reason to believe that Georgina Woode will trifle with aspects of the tape which makes it imperative to summon the Asantehene to come and testify, and we have it on authority that there was no such finding.

And as long as there are opposition parties, they will play politics with these issues and exploit them for what is worth. Indeed one presidential candidate Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah, has served notice that he will use the cocaine issue as a campaign weapon. So long as they stay within the ambit of the law, there is very little that can be done about it within the context of free speech, the most sacred of all freedoms.

The ultimate authority which alone is infallible, is the eternal and living Truth.

The Chronicle appeals to Messrs Kwesi Pratt, Lawyer Kwame Arhin, the Mmawerehene and most important of all the respected Otumfuo to rein in the marauding groups that are threatening all kinds of Fatwas. Imagine what will happen if Kwesi Pratt gets hurt, if he carries along with his threat to visit Kumasi, or the younger lawmaker Hon Haruna Iddrissu runs into a punch at Kejetia on his way to visit the Yagbonwura, it could certainly set the stage for a potentially destabilising conflict It is interesting to note that the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) have done the right thing by calling the bluff of the Asante Youth Association and the Asante United Front. These are serious matters in these serious times. Ghana needs peace now for development to seep through, and all prides should please be subsumed for us to continue to be an island of peace is a troubled conflict- ravaged continent.

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