The president of the Ghana Journalist Association Roland Affail Monney has backtracked on his initial position on the Caleb Kudah “National Security incident”. Mr. Kudah was assaulted by National Security operatives who claimed he was filming national security installations, when in fact the journalist was there to get an update on some abandoned MASLOC vehicles.
Mr. Monney in an interview, on the back of the incident said the Citi FM/Citi TV journalist erred in his actions.
“Caleb erred, as far as our ethics is concerned. He clearly breached the ethics relative to Article 13 of our own Code of Ethics which specifies that journalists should take pictures through fair, straight forward and honest means unless tampered by national interest. His interest here is not so clear. From the face of it, we believe he erred.” the GJA President said in an interview with Accra based Joy FM.
This position drew widespread criticisms from the inky fraternity and some legal practitioners. His General Secretary Kofi Yeboah also took to social media to express a contrary view to Mr. Monney’s arguing that Mr. Kudah broke no Code of Ethics in journalism.
“Caleb Kudah DID NOT violate any journalism ethics in filming at a national security facility. Insofar as the public/national interest was at stake (as evidenced in his narrative), he was firmly within the bounds of journalism ethics, including Article 13 of the GJA Code of Ethics. Article 13 enjoins journalists to use straightforward and honest means when seeking information, “UNLESS TAMPERED BY NATIONAL INTEREST”. Kofi Yeboah stated on Facebook.
At a press briefing today, May 14, 2021, Mr. Monney said he made those initial comments because he was not abreast of the real reasons behind the actions of Mr. Kudah.
“As a student of leadership, I have learned that a leader is not afraid to change course when confronted with fresh information which challenges his earlier assumptions. As I indicated, the information I had before the interview was scanty. What is available now is sufficient, as legal luminaries, distinguished ethicists and social critics slice and dice the issue from all angles. It is healthy for a free society such as ours for viewpoint diversity to be manifestly venerated, not maliciously castigated. I also take note of the righteous indignation and emotional overdrive over the issue”.
He has since apologized for his remarks.
“I, therefore, render my sincerest apology for any misimpression created that I was insensitive to the plight of the journalists but excited about the excesses by the National Security operatives.”
Find the GJA President’s full statement below
STATEMENT BY AFFAIL MONNEY AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON MOLESTATION OF CITI FM REPORTERS AT GHANA INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTRE ON 14TH MAY 2021
Good morning colleague journalists, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
Please accept my deepest gratitude for responding to the invitation to attend this morning’s press conference which will last not more than five minutes.
I am holding it in my personal capacity as a Senior Journalist and a resident of No 4 Puma Street, Adentan, Accra. This press conference is principally to set the records straight and share a few comments on the raging storm over the molestation of two Citi FM reporters, Caleb Kudah and Zoe Abu Baidoo Addo.
On Wednesday, 12th May, 2021, around 5:40 pm I granted an interview at Kumasi Airport to Joy FM. Admittedly, the information I had was sketchy. So I reluctantly went ahead to speak to the issue. I began by instinctively and profoundly expressing my tenderest solicitude to and fullest solidarity with the two journalists . Indeed, I faulted Caleb whom I thought was “openly filming” a video at the Ministry of National Security before his arrest. I, however, added pointedly that the alleged ethical breach did not , and , does not justify the inordinate use of force and intimidatory tactics against the poor journalists. I roundly condemned the “ massive” invasion of Citi FM premises by security operatives to scale up the degree of intimidation against the entire staff and management. I again said that the response by these security operatives was totally out of proportion to the so called offense by Caleb. It clearly violated the law of proportionality.
Unsurprisingly, my condemnation of the office invasion and physical brutalization was muted while my comment on Caleb’s ethical style was tilted and overly highlighted, obviously to achieve certain sensational ends.
As a student of leadership, I have learned that a leader is not afraid to change course when confronted with fresh information which challenges his earlier assumptions. As I indicated, the information I had before the interview was scanty. What is available now is sufficient, as legal luminaries, distinguished ethicists and social critics slice and dice the issue from all angles. It is healthy for a free society such as ours for viewpoint diversity to be manifestly venerated, not maliciously castigated. I also take note of the righteous indignation and emotional overdrive over the issue. I, therefore, render my sincerest apology for any misimpression created that I was insensitive to the plight of the journalists but excited about the excesses by the National Security operatives. Indeed, those excesses pass for wickedness at its most naked nastiness. And I totally denounce them.
Under my presidency, attacks or threats against journalists, irrespective of the perpetrators or victims, have received outright condemnation. So there is no way the latest ones against the Citi FM journalists will be swept under the carpet. Not at all. Indeed, the ordeal as narrated by the journalists is heart rending, soul wrenching, mind boggling, and earth- shattering. The intrinsic value and inherent dignity of the two as human beings were blatantly violated. Their freedom as journalists, too, was scandalously abused. The misbehaviour of the national security operatives can exert a significant chilling effect on the media landscape as a whole. This must stop. In view of this, I urge the Committee of Enquiry set up by the Ministry of National Security to quickly move into action to impartiality unravel all the circumstances surrounding the issue. The findings and recommendations should also be implemented with urgent promptitude to give meaning to our motto as a land of freedom and justice.
The Lord is our refuge and strength.
I thank you for your kind attention.