Journalists, media experts bare teeth at Speaker over ‘disgusting’ comment

Speaker, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye

Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye has come under severe criticisms over the comment that he will withdraw the accreditation of journalists who leave proceedings in the House to cover activities organized by either the Minority or the Majority.

“You are here as guests by my permission because of the importance this House attaches to the…profession. Any such deviation would make you an unwelcome guest and your welcome would be duly withdrawn,” he said.

The Political science professor’s comment comes after Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu complained some journalists left the chamber during the president’s presentation of the State of Nation Address, to cover a press briefing by the Minority.

But he has been challenged by seasoned journalists and media practitioners.

Senior journalist and private legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini has described the Speaker’s comment as “disgusting.”

“This is an infringement of the constitution in many parts,” the private legal practitioner said, adding that Prof. Oquaye “has no business conducting himself in that manner,” he told Joy FM Wednesday.

The 1992 Constitution in Article 162 guarantees the freedom and independence of the press.

Clause 4 of the Article reads: “Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, nor shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications.”

On his part, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, upbraided Professor Oquaye for the disturbing comment.

“The media cannot be dictated to on what to cover and what not to cover,” Mr. Braimah said.

But the Parliamentary Service has contented the House or the Speaker has not dictated to the media at any point in time.

“In fact, the proceedings from the chamber centered on the need for Members of the Corps to remain in the chamber while proceedings were ongoing to ensure that they had a full account of the event as it unfolded,” the press read.

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