You cannot continue to oppress the people – Mahama tells Akufo-Addo

Former President John Dramani Mahama has accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of superintending over a regime that is oppressing the citizenry, criminalizing speech and negating the gains made from Ghana’s democracy.

In an open letter to the President and posted to his Facebook page on Friday, Mr. Mahama said the harassment of journalists while in the line of duty, the closure of media establishments on the president’s instructions and arrest of journalists are dangerous blueprints that undermine the country’s democratic gains and development.

“President Akufo-Addo, you cannot continue to oppress the people, criminalize speech when these matters are essentially civil in nature, if you feel offended by them,” he stated in the open letter.

He noted further that the actions of the president “have totally discredited your self-acquired accolade as a human rights lawyer and activist. Ghana has long emerged from the unfortunate past where journalists were cowed by incarceration and brutalization.”

Mr. Mahama who was addressing concerns of media freedom said the Ghana Journalists Association and others are scared to speak up.

“It is even more sad that the Journalists Association and its senior members, many of our clergy and other moral leaders, scared because of the oppressive and dictatorial regime you are running, have remained quiet in the face of this disturbing development in our maturing democracy.”

In a space of less than two weeks, four people have suffered police action, criminalizing their right to free speech. Media General’s radio and TV presenter Captain Smart was dragged from court, and although granted bail, sent into detention. Oheneba Boamah Bennie of PowerFM has been jailed for two weeks for statements he had allegedly made in a video.

A civil society activist has also been arrested, detained, sent to court on criminal charges, granted bail and yet detained again for making a statement against President Akufo-Addo. Last week, security personnel linked to the NPP party brutalized a radio presenter and producer in of Takoradi.

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