Ghana: Be Circumspect in Kidnappings Reportage - - Foreign Affairs Committee Cautions Media

THE Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament is urging circumspection in media reports in the wake of increasing cases of kidnappings linked to Nigerians in the country.

According to the Committee holding individuals responsible instead of criminalising nationality would ensure that the cordial relation between Ghana and her West African neighbour was not soiled.

Nigerians have been linked to the new wave of crime with the latest being the failed attempt by a 52-year-old Nigerian citizen to abduct a four-year old child at Mamobi here in Accra.

That attempted abduction followed the rescue of the two Canadian volunteers who were allegedly kidnapped by a gang of Ghanaians and Nigerians amongst other violent crimes.

Unenthused by the reports, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Michael Olufemi Abikoye, in a statement said the line of reportage "has caused untold pain, agony as well as apprehension" to Nigerians in Ghana.

To him, "the ongoing media trial of criminals which was now being turned into a media trial of Nigeria as a country, calls for moderation on the part of media practitioners in Ghana.

"Suffice to say that at times like this, a situation where five Ghanaians in the company of three Nigerians allegedly kidnapped two Canadians but seems to enjoy wider press coverage as a crime committed by the Nigerians and considers Ghanaians only as accomplices leaves much to be desired on the objectivity of such report."

Sharing the sentiments of Mr Abikoye at a press conference in Parliament yesterday, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, said "if somebody commits a crime, let us deal with the fellow. But if we begin to tag the people with their countries, it is not good," he said.

Urging the media to be extra circumspect in view of happenings in the 1970s where foreigners were deported from Ghana following the passage of the Alien Act, he said "If we do not take caution and confusion erupts, the two countries would suffer."

The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Annoh- Dompreh hinted, would be invited for a discussion on the matter so as to find a lasting solution.

Supported by his Ranking Member, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and other members of the Committee, Mr Annoh-Dompreh said "particularly, we are guided by what has happened in the past... ... .so we are treading cautiously."

Noting that crime had no colour or nationality, Mr Annoh-Dompreh said there were Nigerians who were doing legitimate business in Ghana and that "if somebody commits a crime, let us deal with the fellow. But if we begin to tag the people with their countries, it is not good."

Urging the police to be dispassionate in their work in order to bring the perpetrators to justice, Mr Annoh-Dompreh-Dompreh said overgeneralisation of the crime could hurt the integrity of the police's investigation.

"So, let's respect the police, let's not be quick in prejudging the case that is being reported in the media," he added.

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, on his part said the committee was getting increasingly concerned about the tone, the reportage and how same was being discussed on various social media platforms.

"This is what leads to triggers that cause what we all do not want to see. We do not want Ghana-Nigeria relations to be jeorpardised. We do not want the start of any xenophobic attacks no matter where it will start from, whether from Ghana or from Nigeria," he stated.

It is estimated that whilst two million Ghanaians reside in Nigeria, seven million Nigerians are in Ghana.

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