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08 July 2016

BNI warns warmongering media houses

mediaGhana’s Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has said it will descend heavily on any media house whose platform is used to foment trouble that has the potential of destabilising the country’speace and security

The warning was contained in a statement released on Thursday, July 7, by the Bureau in relation to the recent threatening comments made by two panellists on Accra-based private radio station Montie FM. Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn threatened the lives of Supreme Court judges while they spoke on the station.

“We also advise media house owners, show hosts, panellists and other radio communicators to conduct all discussions with decorum, tolerance, and respect for the constitutional rights of others. This will ensure peace before, during and after the upcoming elections. We will not hesitate to invoke the full sanctions of the law against any media house, which ignores this warning,” the BNI said.

The Bureau also indicated that during questioning of the suspects admitted threatening the justices. It, however, added that its investigations have revealed that the two lacked the capacity to carry out those threats.

Mr. Gunn and Mr. Nelson were arrested last week by the BNI for threatening to visit mayhem on the justices, who sat on the Abu Ramadan v. Electoral Commission case in connection with the deletion of names of voters, who got registered onto the poll roll through their national health insurance scheme cards.

The security body said: “In arresting the two, the BNI took into consideration, the current volatile security situation in the country as we inch towards the 2016 elections.”

“At the interrogation, the two suspects admitted making those statements and acknowledged that their remarks were regrettable and unfortunate.

“Further checks by the BNI have, however, established that the suspects were incapable of carrying out pronouncements but did so in a show of needless bravado,” the statement dated 7 July 2016 said.

Below is the full statement

The Bureau of National Investigations on 3 July 2016 questioned two radio commentators, namely Alistair Tairo Nelson, 41, and Godwin Ako Gun, 39, on comments they aired on Montie FM, an Accra-based radio station attacking justices of the supreme court.

The arrest was premised on the fact that their comments were considered provocative, inflammatory and unacceptable and had the potential of creating security challenges.

In arresting the two, the BNI took into consideration, the current volatile security situation in the country as we inch towards the 2016 elections. At the interrogation, the two suspects admitted making those statements and acknowledged that their remarks were regrettable and unfortunate. Further checks by the BNI have however established that the suspects were incapable of carrying out pronouncements but did so in a show of needless bravado.

Nevertheless, our investigations are ongoing and the suspects are reporting to the BNI three times a week. The BNI further observes that thus far several electronic and print media outlets have become notorious for their intemperate vituperations, personal attacks, and outright insults, among others. This is a serious security concern that we will not allow to fester.

As part of our constitutional mandate to safeguard Ghana’s political environment for all Ghanaians, we advise all discussants to avoid intemperate and inflammatory language and innuendos that have the tendency to create fear and panic and that tend to cause breaches of the peace.

The Bureau notes that the rights of self-expression and media freedom are enshrined in our constitution, and several governmental and non-governmental institutions such as the National Media Commission (NMC), the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and other civil society organisations recognised by statutes or otherwise have a primary responsibility to regulate the communications sector and avoid inflammatory comments that has the potential to threaten the peace and stability of the country.

The Bureau assures the judiciary, the good people of Ghana and all foreigners within the jurisdiction that we shall continue to work with all the other state security agencies to ensure their safety at all times.

We also advise media house owners, show hosts, panellists and other radio communicators to conduct all discussions with decorum, tolerance and respect for the constitutional rights of others. This will ensure peace before, during and after the upcoming elections.

We will not hesitate to invoke the full sanctions of the law against any media house, which ignores this warning.

END

Issued from: BNI HQ, ACCRA

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