The controversy surrounding the speedy trial and conviction of Charles Antwi, the man accused of plotting to assassinate President Mahama, has become sadly partisan.
Speaking to OK FM, the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Asiedu Nketia suggested that the NPP might have put Mr. Antwi to the purpose of assassinating the President.
According to Mr. Nketia, “I have monitored discussions on the various radio stations and I am amazed how the NPP always back this man who wanted to harm our President. The defense of this criminal is unfortunate and must cease.” Wow!!!
This is a new and sad low in the politics of false accusations. How would the NPP benefit from the death of President Mahama which would lead to the Presidency of Amissah-Arthur? How can a man as intelligent as Asiedu Nketia reach such a shocking conclusion from the facts of this case? Does Gen. Mosquito really believe that the party that includes his friend and SDA Church elder Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, who graced his daughter’s wedding recently—would plot to assassinate President Mahama?
When Lincoln, the first Republican President was assassinated in 1865, the Republicans did not accuse Democrats of sending the assassin. Equally, when John Kennedy, the Democratic President was assassinated in 1963, the Democrats did not accuse the Republicans of sending the assassin.
Of course, we should not be surprised. Some in the NDC have openly speculated that former President Mills of blessed memory was murdered by members of his own party, including President Mahama!
As for the NPP, it is hardly in a position to complain because, without a shred of evidence, many in it have concluded that its own National Chair and General Secretary are responsible for the murder of late Adams Mahama and are using that as a basis for removing them from office! Indeed, some in the NPP have accused former Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani of plotting to poison the current flag-bearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, if he were to become President!
Of course, these accusations, based on pure conjecture are pure bull and all sensible people know that. They create a general sense of insecurity in the country.
They undermine the reputations of all politicians.
They undermine charity for others and promote a general feeling of malice in the political space.
They make good people less inclined to join the political process.
They must cease forthwith.
First, while freedom of expression is fundamental to our democracy, it must have sensible limits. Freedom of expression must not include the right to malign others and ruin their reputations for reckless partisan advantage. Those who make these accusations and cannot back them with evidence must suffer legal consequences.
Second, our institutions, including our political parties must protect and nurture our democracy. To this end, they must hold to account their officers for their words and deeds and in turn be held to account, for what is done in their names. While all political parties have this burden, it is particularly heavy on the governing party.
The National Peace Council must not only be heard from during elections when tensions are high. Indeed, one can argue that if they are more proactive, they would be needed less in the heat of elections. They must raise their voice in condemnation when leaders, like General Mosquito, who clearly know better, are acting recklessly for partisan purposes.
Third, the media, independent of what individuals can do, must be held to account by watchdog groups for who and what they put on air. They cannot be permitted to put in the public space, people, voices and issues that clearly undermine our collective well-being and injure people gratuitously, in the name of free speech.
It is time for the National Media Commission and CHRAJ to sit up and proactively nurture our democracy by discouraging irresponsible free speech. No responsible society, in the name of free speech, would permit a man to yell “FIRE, FIRE!” in a crowded theatre when there is no fire. And that, in effect, is what we are doing.
Let us stop the politics of false accusations. Democracy includes the rule of law and due process. That is what our founders had in mind when they made our motto, “FREEDOM AND JUSTICE”.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy
31ST July, 2015