Former Deputy Minister of Information Felix Kwakye Ofosu says President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would have been one of the very first people to be jailed if free speech had been criminalised under previous administrations.
Speaking on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, edition of JoyNews’ AM Show, Kwakye Ofosu, reacting to recent arrests and prosecution of some journalists and individuals described the development as a phenomenon that shows the nation is in “trouble” under the current administration.
According to him, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo should be the last person to criminalise speech as he got away with perpetuating falsehood in the name of free speech during his days in opposition.
“We cannot criminalise speech. People cannot go to jail because they said something that was untrue. If that principle was ever applied to President Akufo-Addo, who is applying it now, he would not have been President. He would have ended up in jail because I know for a fact that on three or four occasions, he said absolutely false things.”
“One of the things was that he said President Mahama had printed diaries to the tune of 10 million dollars. If this law was applied, he wouldn’t be President but be in jail,” he stated.
Section 207 and 208 of the Criminal Offenses Act has been cited in the recent arrest of some journalists and individuals who have been charged for publishing false news.
Speaking on the recent arrests tag as targeting government critics, Kwakye Ofosu noted that President Akufo-Addo is equally guilty of the same offence based on his utterances while in opposition.
“The case that sent Oheneba was initiated by the Attorney General. So there is no dispute. What he said related to the President and the President took exception and had his A-G file contempt charges against him which made him go to prison for 14 days.”
“If in this day and age, somebody can go to prison for two days for saying something the President believes is untrue, then we are in serious trouble. The matter relating to Bobbie Ansah revolves around something he said about the First Lady and wife of the Vice President. In any serious jurisdiction, investigative bodies would have moved in to ascertain whether or not the First Lady and wife of the Vice President had abused their positions to do anything irregular,” he added.