‘Captain Smart arrest is intolerance, he did no wrong’ – Media General fights IGP; slams ‘trend’ of media arrests

'Captain Smart arrest is intolerance, he did no wrong' – Media General fights IGP;  slams 'trend' of media arrests

The arrest of Captain Smart is an example of the “intolerance” that is “creeping” into the Ghanaian society, owners of Onua FM/TV, Media General, have said in a statement in connection with the arrest of their morning show host by the police, on Thursday, 2 December 2021, for making “unsavoury pronouncements”, which were “conducive” to “threatening” the peace and stability of the country.

“This recent trend of picking journalists has affected journalists who work with Media General, who are simply doing their work and, like every Ghanaian, should be protected by the Constitution”, the statement in defence of Captain Smart said, adding: “Today’s arrest and detention of Captain Smart is by no means an isolated incident, but just one more egregious example of the intolerance increasingly creeping into the Ghanaian society”.

Read the full Media General statement below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CAPTAIN SMART RELEASED

ACCRA, Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Nima Divisional Police Command today arrested broadcaster Blessed Godsbrain Smart, popularly known as “Captain Smart”, the host of the morning show “Onua Maakye” on Media General subsidiaries, Onua TV and Onua FM.

At about 11 am on Thursday, Smart received officers from the National Investigations Bureau (NIB) in his home who invited him to their office, to which he obliged. He was subsequently taken to the Nima Police station in Accra for interrogation.

At the Nima Police Station, Smart was cautioned on the “offence of offensive conduct conducive to breaches of the peace as provided under section 207 of the Criminal Act, 1960 (Act 29).” He provided a caution statement and then was granted bail.

According to the Police, the arrest of Captain Smart was due to some unsavoury pronouncements he was alleged to have made that, according to them, hinged on the peace and security of the country.

However, Media General believes that the statement made by Captain Smart should not be one that should be interpreted in the manner that the police did and also to add that we are increasingly concerned about the new trend of arrest of journalists and media practitioners.

This recent trend of picking journalists has affected journalists who work with Media General who are simply doing their work and, like every Ghanaian, should be protected by the Constitution.

Today’s arrest and detention of Captain Smart is by no means an isolated incident, but just one more egregious example of the intolerance increasingly creeping into the Ghanaian society.

We are convinced that a careful review of the entire statement made by Captain Smart would reveal that it did not amount to threats to the peace and or stability of the country as claimed by the Ghana police.

The Media General Group would like to urge the Ghana Police Service and the IGP to exercise restraint in their dealings with journalists legitimately doing their work and dismiss these broad charges so that press freedom would be protected.

We at Media General shall continue to preach and exercise responsible journalism. However, we would continue to empower our journalists and broadcasters to be fearless, honest and forthright in their professional outlook always.

Meanwhile, the National Media Commission (NMC) has warned the Accra-based station to “take steps to bring your content unto a level of professional acceptability” following “calls for an insurrection against the state of Ghana and its institutions” by Captain Smart.

A letter signed by the Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr George Sarpong, dated Thursday, 2 December 2021, and addressed to the company’s CEO, condemned Captain Smart’s comments as “unprofessional” and “inciteful” broadcasting.

“Part of your broadcast raises concern for the peace and security of the country in a manner that demands immediate regulatory action”, the statement which is reproduced in full below, said.

December 2, 2021

The Chief Executive Officer

Onua Fm

Accra

UNPROFESSIONAL AND INCITEFUL BROADCAST

Part of your broadcast raises concern for the peace and security of the country in a manner that demands immediate regulatory action.

We are particularly concerned about a recent broadcast in which “Captain Smart” calls for insurrection against the state of Ghana and its institutions.

This, by all standards, crosses the line of robust and critical broadcasting and transforms your radio station into a megaphone of war.

While that particular broadcast, without more, constitutes adequate grounds for regulatory action, we still retain the belief that given the chance, management could take steps to bring your content unto a level of professional acceptability. We are fortified in this belief by the fact that considerable parts of your other broadcast, including the news, offer that hope.

We would be glad if you noted that exercising the required professional caution is in your interest.

Yours faithfully,

George Sarpong

Executive Secretary

Cc:

1. The President

Ghana Journalists’ Association

Accra

2. The President

Ghana Independent Broadcasters’ Association

Accra

3. The President

Private Newspaper Publishers’ Association

Accra

4. The media

Florence Akosua Gyeduaa
Florence Akosua Gyeduaa
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