NEWS COMMENTARY ON KENNEDY AGYAPONG’S INFLAMMATORY UTTERANCES AND THE HARM CAUSED AS HE FACES THE PRIVILAGES COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT.
It is refreshing the three-member Ministerial Committee probing circumstances that led to the disturbances at Ejura, resulting in the unfortunate shooting and killing of two civilians and injury of four others, has ended its public hearings. The Committee was tasked by the Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, on the instructions of President Akufo-Addo, to investigate circumstances that led to the violent protest following the burial of a social media activist, Ibrahim Mohammed, popularly known as Kaaka.
Kaaka, who died at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi on June 26 after being attacked by suspected assailants currently on trial, was linked to the hashtag Fixthecountry Movement. According to its Chairman, Justice George Kingsley Koomson, the Ministerial Committee would put together its report and submit it to the sector minister in the next few days. Even before that is done, there’ve been interesting and worrying, developments linked with the testimony of one of the 22 witnesses that appeared before the Committee: Multimedia Group journalist, Erastus Asare Donkor. This has to do with a vitriolic attack on the journalist who also covered the deadly protest as it unfolded, by the Member of Parliament for Assin-Central, Kennedy Agyapong. The MP who doubles as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and the Interior, was recorded on a television station he owns, threatening to have Mr. Asare Donkor “beaten mercilessly” for what he described as the latter’s “fake” reportage on the Ejura killings. Ghanaians of all walks of life have since been condemning Mr. Agyapong’s words. The Media Foundation for West Africa, which is “appalled at the verbal attacks on Erastus Asare Donkor” described the Assin-Central legislator’s comments as “inflammatory and reckless, liable to put the life of the reporter of the Kumasi-based radio station in danger.” The MFWA’s fears are not farfetched.
Probably most infamous of Mr. Agyapong’s verbal threats and incitements were those he made in compromising the identity of investigative journalist, Ahmed Suale that many links to Mr. Suale’s grusome murder down by assailants in January 2019. The Ghana Journalists Association called for “concrete action on all fronts to address the issue”. These actions may include the request for Mr. Agyapong to be brought before the Privileges Committee of Parliament in a motion moved by Hon. Alhassan Suhuyini, Member of Parliament for Tamale North, for the threats on the life of the journalist deemed not only harmful but a dent on the reputation of the House. The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, accepted the submission and referred Mr. Agyapong to the Committee of Privileges, chaired by the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu. The Committee’s remit is to investigate whether the conduct of the Assin-Central MP was contentious and amounted to an abuse of the privileges of the House. Mr. Bagbin reminded Members that they did not have the right, privilege, or immunity to say just anything because they are MPs. “As they are not above the law.
In the wake of the recent jailing of Jacob Zuma, former president of South Africa, for fifteen months for contempt of a Commission of Inquiry investigating him for corruption allegations, the Speaker of Parliament’s statement is most appropriate. It remains for the Privileges Committee of the Parliament of Ghana to also prove that, in the matter of the threats on Erastus Asare Donkor by Kennedy Agyapong, the MP or anyone who flouts established rules and regulations of the land is subject to the due process of law. Mr. Agyapong maybe passionate about resolving national issues, a civic responsibility assigned to us all by the President to be citizens and not spectators. Approaching those issues with an attitude suggestive of self-absorption or a sense of entitlement does little to enhance the lawmaker’s role as a notable public official. A lot of people are worried the NPP has failed to call Kennedy Agyapong, a leading member of the party, to order over his numerous acts of contempt of public authority. This failure has been attributed to his influence in one way or the other over the rank and file of the party.
It is, therefore, the expectation of all Ghanaians that the deliberations of the Privileges Committee in this matter and its outcome will steer clear of blind partisanship but establish the supremacy of the Rule of Law in the affairs of this dear nation of ours.
By Raymond Tuvi (Media and Development Consultant)