August 4, 2011

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has accused the NDC government of abusing incumbency and power to undermine press freedom, (and) thwart fair reporting”, following a decision by government led by Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal, to use state funds to persuade Journalists to do stories that will promote the chances of the NDC in the upcoming 2012 general elections.

The NPP claims, the deliberate strategy to use state funds to bribe journalists is “terribly unfortunate” and “a blatant abuse of incumbency by the NDC”.

The NPP at a press briefing in Accra put out a list of 15 journalists, some with their account numbers attached, of persons said to be part from the coffers of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) for their defence of the Mills administration, especially in the run up to the 2012 general elections.

In an audio tape circulating in the media, a voice supposed to be that of Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal is heard persuading journalists with promises of employment and cash to prosecute the agenda of the NDC and make the party win the 2012 election.

The voice believed to belong to Baba Jamal is heard saying that government had decided to use funds from the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) to pay those journalists. Official appointment letters as well as bank account details would be furnished to enable the selected journalist withdraw an unspecified monthly pay for their ‘work.’ The journalists are further promised a larger package if the NDC wins next year’s election.

The Communications Director of the NPP who is also MP for Okaikoi South, Nana Akomea read transcripts of the said meeting to the press, insisting it was a true copy of the conversation. He described the deputy Information Minister as “increasingly cutting a figure of incredibility”, following Baba Jamal’s denial that the voice was his.

He said the NPP would be willing to pay for the services of a voice analyst to determine the veracity of the said voice on the tape if challenged.

Nana Akomea explained that the party was concerned that such an important arm of governance was being corrupted, and warned that if this was not checked, other important agencies of government such as the police and the Electoral Commission could be influenced.

But the Deputy Minister has categorically denied to Citi News that he had ever promised journalists huge sums of money to tow a particular line ahead of the 2012 elections, and has threatened to institute court action in order to track the impersonators and bring them to book.

Story : Kwadwo Anim/