A MESSAGE TO EOCO

The Financial Division Two Court on Tuesday, protected the sanctity of free speech and the freedom of the media when it ruled that The Ghanaian Times Editor, Dave Agbenu, and its Chief Reporter, Castro Zangina-Tong, were not in contempt of the court.

The applicant, The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) had prayed the court to commit the two senior journalists to prison for contempt, until they purged themselves of the crime.

According to EOCO, The Times had carried a story on Page 3 of its Thursday, April 20, 2014, issue with the headline, ‘Three officials of EOCO rush to court, to purge themselves of contempt’, aspects of which the applicant claimed were willfully and deliberately intended to interfere with the administration of justice.

However, the court, presided over by Justice John Ajet-Nassam, shot down the case, stating that the applicant had not laid the foundation to commit the respondents to contempt of court.

Although the wise ruling should be a welcome relief to the two journalists who, in their estimation, were only performing their constitutional duties, it also brings to the fore, several other issues.

One of these is how some state agencies use all sorts of bullying tactics, to gag the media, which they should rather consider as partners in development.

Indeed, the Times is a State entity established not only to inform, educate and entertain citizens, but sensitise them as well to government policies; so is EOCO a State entity whose mission is to fight organised crime in our society.

So what is it that the Executive Secretary of EOCO, Biadela Mortey Akpadzi, sought to gain in rushing to the court and praying that the two senior journalists be thrown into prison?

Was the purpose to muzzle the newspaper and stop it from reporting on the case? We do not want to join those who have the perception that EOCO is becoming a green-eyed monster which takes delight in bullying people, even other State institutions.

After all, the Times has carried numerous reports about EOCO which are positive and cast it in the right light, in the public eye and we will continue to do so.

The Times believes that it is time State institutions saw themselves as partners in development and collaborated with each other, rather than being vindictive and engaging in needless litigation.

We believe in the popular adage, ‘United we stand, divided we fall!’

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