Government has described Joy News’ undercover documentary dubbed: “Militia in the heart of the nation” broadcast on a number of its sister stations on Thursday, March 7, as a mischievous piece meant to paint President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a negative light.
It has therefore asked the station and its reporter, Manasseh Azure Awuni to do well to correct the inaccuracies and provide the Ghanaian public with the truth and accurate account of the issue to cure the misrepresentation.
Addressing journalists in Accra yesterday as part of the bi-weekly media briefing of the Ministry of Information, the Minister of the sector, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said, even though Joy News had produced some wonderful documentaries over the period, this particular one fell short of their own standards.
According to the Minister, even though the documentary and the narrative of the documentary stated emphatically that a “militia” had been uncovered training and operating a “security zone”, with the complicity of the current administration, and identified them as belonging to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the 20-minute documentary failed to show evidence of such.
Rather, it showed a group of young men and women, dressed up in white shirts and black suits, converging at the castle, Osu in the belief that jobs would be found for them.
“From Joy News’ own documentary, it is clear that the company is involved in helping unemployed young men and women find jobs, and operates a website that openly states their objectives. Again, in the documentary, officials of the company claim that they are in the business of helping people find jobs, and encourage the persons who sign up for their services to avoid engaging themselves in acts that breach the laws of the country,” he explained.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah further stated that though in the advertisement, Manasseh Awuni suggested the undertaking of a fearsome training exercise by these young men and women, and backed it with photos of masked men wielding assault rifles, the documentary itself failed to show any of such training exercise taking place, or the use of assault rifles by these young men and women.
“Government is of the view that this is most unprofessional and very misleading, and we can only urge the producer, Mr Awuni and Joy News to avoid such misrepresentation in the future. The narrative put on the advertisement, to all intent and purposes, is not supported even by the footage aired,” he stressed.
The Minister also added that even though the documentary rightly stated that the National Security apparatus had made efforts to close down the office of the company at the Castle, it deliberately failed to highlight the fact the office had been closed down by National Security since October 2018.
“Indeed, as has been rightly indicated, there is no militia or vigilante group operating from the castle. This is an important fact which government believes had to be stated to viewers and listeners, but was deliberately omitted,” he added.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained that the De-Eye Group, initially succeeded in using the garden grounds of the castle for its activities because its promoter, Nana Wireko Addo was assigned there to work with a taskforce to retrieve landed property and vehicles in the possession of officials of the erstwhile Mahama administration.
He said after the conclusion of the work of the taskforce in August 2018, he subsequently, converted the office allocated him into a private business office for the stated purposes of his company, stressing that “Admittedly, this should not have been allowed to happen in the first place, but was quickly dealt with in October 2018 when he was evicted from the premises by a joint operation involving personnel of National Security and the Police.”
On the issue of the castle being a security zone, Mr Oppong Nkrumah stated categorically that the place was neither a security zone nor an annex of the presidency but rather a facility operated by the National Museums and Monument Board.
“Indeed, it is a facility operated by the Museums and Monuments Board, after President Akufo-Addo, on March 5, 2017 tasked the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to spearhead its transformation into a museum. The general public may refer to news items of March 5, 2017, the date on which President Akufo-Addo gave that directive,” he emphasized.
The Minister said even though the documentary stated categorically that the young men and women seen in the video had been used for various security operations in and outside of Accra, it failed to list any of these operations.
He noted that the disingenuous and deliberate attempts to cast the President of the Republic in a negative light vis-à-vis the fight against vigilantism exposed what was the real motive of the documentary.
The Minister therefore called on all well-meaning Ghanaians, civil society organisations, and the media to support the President’s fight against party vigilantism, stressing that “We urge that this is channelled towards supporting efforts of the various political parties in finding mutually acceptable means to succeed.”
By Cliff Ekuful