June 4: Killing, assault on journalists in democratic Ghana unacceptable – Agbodza

Kwame Agbodza

Member of Parliament for Adaklu, Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza, has said killing of journalists in a democratic dispensation is worrying.

He said, such attacks on journalists during the military rulership received wild condemnation from all stakeholders hence, such developments should not be happening in a democratic era.

In a statement he presented to parliament as part of the June 4 anniversary celebration on Friday, he said “Mr Speaker, should we not condemn the excesses we see under a democratic dispensation than those under a military regime?

“We heard of Journalists maltreated under Military regimes, and we all condemned these acts. So how come we see these things happening even more under a democratic dispensation? The murder of Ahmed Suale, an investigative journalist is unacceptable, does it matter if this was under a military or civilian regime?

“We hear of journalists picked up by state security operatives and molested, we hear some journalists have to flee this country because they publish materials that government find unacceptable.”

Below is the full statement…

STATEMENT BY HON KWAME AGBODZA ON THE RELEVANCE OF JUNE 4TH TO THE CONTEMPORARY GHANAIAN DISPENSATION

Rt Hon Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this statement at plenary as a reflection on the events of June 4th 1979, popularly called ‘The June 4th Uprising’ and its relevance to current dispensation of our country. The focus of this statement is to draw the attention to the fundamentals that led to that event, its impact on our Socio, Political and Economic trajectory and the lesson we should all take from that.

Mr. Speaker, the architects of the uprising cited a combination of issues including corruption, bad governance, frustration among the general public, indiscipline within the Ghana army and a general moral decadence among others. In the view of the leaders of the Uprising, the Supreme Military Council (SMC II) led by General Fred Akuffo was to blame for the woes of the country. The failed attempt of May 15th leading to the arrest and trial of the group only heightened public interest and exacerbated the frustration of the citizenry.

It also appeared to have deepen the uncomfortable relationship between the Junior and Senior Ranks of the Armed forces. On the night of the 3rd June 1979, some Junior officers organized themselves, together and broke into the jail where Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings was being held. They took him to the Ghana Broadcasting premises where he spoke to the Nation and asked that all Soldiers should meet at the Nicholson Stadium at Burma Camp.

Mr. Speaker, some of the excesses after June 4th led to some loss of life and property. These excesses were roundly condemned and those found to have misconducted themselves were duly punished. As a people, we must never allow situations to degenerate to a level where established laws and institutions in our country no longer enjoy the support of the citizenry. After all, the State exists because of the people.

Mr. Speaker, the events of June 4th 1979 are 42 years behind us. Many believe that event was the watershed of our current democratic dispensation. Those who led the Uprising never did that because they were necessarily interested in ruling the country , they were not the regular people who scheme to get access to state power to enrich themselves, they were simply the pinnacle that reflected  the reaction of a Nation that was reeling under many unbearable conditions. Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings quickly handed over to a Civil Government as a proof that, he and his men only wanted to correct the ills of our society.

Events after that till the birth of the 4th Republic are there for us all to reflect on, indeed, the 1992 Constitution has become the bedrock upon which we currently exist as a State. We must never forget the sacrifices that have been made for us to have our current democracy. President Rawlings is the architect of the sustainable democratic Ghana. Ironically, it took a patriotic Ghanaian like President Rawlings and many of the people he worked with, politicians, Civil Servants and many Ordinary people to nurture what we have as a country today. His untimely death has robbed our Country of a Great Ghanaian, a Great African. May his Soul rest well, but may his spirit of Truth, Probity and Accountability forever stay with us.

Mr. Speaker, What lesson are there for us as we reflect on an even that took place 42 years ago? Events of June 4th 1979 was called ‘Uprising’, because it was not based on any political ideology. People from all sections of the Ghanaian Society took to the streets in support of the Uprising. In my view, they say this as an opportunity for a change. A change that will minimize the core issues they were unhappy about. Issues of corruption, Nepotism, abuse of state power, insecurity, attacks on basic freedoms and rights of Ghanaians.

Mr. Speaker, should we not condemn the excesses we see under a democratic dispensation than those under a military regime? We heard of Journalists maltreated under Military regimes, and we all condemned these acts. So how come we see these things happening even more under a democratic dispensation? The murder of Ahmed Suale, an investigative journalist is unacceptable, does it matter if this was under a military or civilian regime? We hear of journalists picked up by state security operatives and molested, we hear some journalists have to flee this country because they publish materials that government find unacceptable

Mr. Speaker, people lost their properties unlawfully under military regimes, those acts were condemned. We have a constitution we must all respect. Under this constitution, everyone is innocent until he is pronounced as guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. You are also entitled to your property until a court orders that property should be taken away from you. We all detest the activities of those unpatriotic people who do galamsey, but their punishment can only be determined by the courts. Why should the President of the republic totally ignore these provisions and order the destruction of properties of citizens, even before a court determines that? Is the president not setting aside the constitution? What is the difference this this particular action of the president and that which happens under military regimes?

Mr. Speaker, does the ordinary Ghanaian have confidence in the State and Institutions now? Does the ordinary person believe the Courts of the land may give him justice? Does the ordinary Ghanaian feel the Military, Police etc. will do their work fairly? Does the ordinary Ghanaian believe the Electoral Commission can conduct a Free and Fair elections? Does the ordinary Ghanaian believe parliament is independent and can make Laws that reflect the aspirations of the people?

Mr. Speaker, June 4th may stair passions, but we must all learn the lessons quickly and work to avoid the issues that precipitated the event. What shall we do to avoid falling into another June 4th situation? We must all be reminded that, a country cannot achieve a sustain internal peace based on the size of the armed forces of the nature of the weapons they have. It is only a happy people that can guarantee sustainable peace and security.

Thank you.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana