Former President John Mahama has taken on the government for what he says is the incarcerating of critical voices, a reference to the recent invocation of Section 208 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29).
Mr Mahama says the Akufo-Addo administration has elected this route as a means of evading accountability after running down the country.
The 2020 Presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) adds that this is happening when “the frustrations of Ghanaians is at an all-time high.”
“The condescending responses from government officials to public complaints have often accentuated the frustration and anger of the people,” Mahama said at an NDC function dubbed, “Ghana at a crossroads” on Monday.
“A government bereft of ideas has resorted to the incarceration of critical voices, name-calling of citizens and unfair categorization of the labour force and huge numbers of unemployed youth as lazy and undeserving,” the former President added.
Section 208 of the country’s Criminal Offenses Act criminalise the publication of false news.
“A person who publishes or reproduces a statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace knowing or having reason to believe that the statement, rumour or report is false commits a misdemeanour,” the law says.
Multiple journalists have been visited with the state’s power recently under this provision.
Accra FM presenter Kwabena Bobbie Ansah was arrested in Accra in February on a charge of “publication of false news and offensive conduct” for making claims about the President in a Facebook video.
Blessed Godsbrain Smart, aka Captain Smart of Onua TV and Mensah Thompson who is the leader of ante-graft body Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) were also arrested and arraigned on similar charges.
This has drawn international media attention with the government courting criticisms for criminalizing free speech and re-introducing criminal libel law which was repealed two decades ago.
Mahama says in addition to this move, Akufo-Addo has bastardized Constitutional state bodies in his attempt to evade criticism, referencing the removal of the Auditor-General Daniel Domelevo in bizarre circumstances.