Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, has reaffirmed his commitment to Press Freedom, but still maintains his ‘forbidden’ ruling for the media not to engage any individual or group of persons whenever plenary is still in session.
The Speaker, on Wednesday ruled that it was forbidden for the Parliamentary Press to engage in the coverage of any other activity in Parliament as long as plenary session is ongoing.
As part of his ruling following a complaint by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu who was livid about the fact that the Parliamentary Press had left the Chamber business to give coverage to a press briefing by the MP for Ellembele outside the Chamber, the Speaker threatened to withdraw the accreditation of the press should the action be repeated.
The Speaker came under a lot of pressure and criticism for the ruling which suggested that he wanted to stifle media freedom.
However, addressing the matter on the Floor of the House on Thursday, the Rt. Hon. Speaker informed the House that the import of his ruling has been taken out of context and that he has always been a champion of Media freedom since his youthful days.
“Some statements that have been made about my directions yesterday. Let me reiterate that I spoke to both sides of the House and I did say so categorically. I reminded that the media are most welcomed as guests of this Honorable House and we will do everything to assist them in the performance of this duty and we will continue to do so.
“But while the business of this honorable House however is ongoing, our distinguished media media people should not go outside the Chamber to cover other activities while Parliament, the sovereign body of the people is sitting.”
He dispelled the notion that he was seeking to gag the media with his ruling by touting his media credentials.
“I personally have supported media freedom since 1967. Yes, when my first article appeared in the Ghanaian Times in 1967 and I have consistently stood by that. But no organization, whether it is the lawyers or the doctors or whatever, is perfect. And we should be able to streamline and critique so that our country will develop.”