The Government of Ghana has filed a petition to the National Media Commission (NMC) against Joy News’ over their “militia documentary,” seeking for an order for the media house to retract and an apologise for its investigative report.
The government insists that the content of the documentary, titled, ‘Militia in the Heart of the Nation’ which revealed activities of the Eye Group, believed to be a militia organisation operating at the former seat of government, is “misleading.”
The petition signed by the Minister of Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah on behalf of government, has it that, “In accordance with Section 15 of Act 449, government is seeking a declaration to the effect that the impugned documentary by Manasseh Awuni Azure and Joynews is misleading and constitutes a dishonest and deliberate misrepresentation of facts and calculated at causing undue public apprehension, alarm and panic,” it said.
“It is our sincerest hope that this complaint will be seriously investigated by the Commission in accordance with journalistic standards published by the Commission as well as the ethics of the media profession,” it added.
The content of the petition also included that, “We view the impugned documentary as part of the unbounded calumny by Manasseh Awuni Azure, Joynews and its affiliates aimed at distorting Government policy and work on serious matters of national concern like the fight against vigilantism.”
“Much as the undeniable track record of the President shows a selfless dedication to the defence of press freedom and human rights, irresponsible and unethical journalism threaten the democracy and peace of the nation,” it said.
Head of Investigations at Joy News,’ Manasseh Azure Awuni, in the documentary, among other things emphatically stated that the supposed militia group, which had two offices at the Castle, was affiliated to the NPP, and that, although it wasn’t a registered private security firm as his checks had revealed, attempts by the National Security to evict them in the past were unsuccessful.
Manasseh also noted that the group had the support of a higher hand in government for which reason they could have access to the Castle, a supposed security installation, which houses some ministries.
Meanwhile, De – Eye Group Limited has also sued Multimedia Group and Manasseh over the documentary, demanding GH₵ 10 million in damages. “The plaintiff avers that the promotion of the 1st Defendant documentary coupled with the full documentary which was aired on the 2nd Defendant’s network has generated several comments and media attention ostensibly to tarnish the reputation of the organisation by describing it as a militia group when in fact its activities have nothing to do with any militia operations,” it added.
The group writ indicated that the company is not a “militia group” as suggested in the documentary. To this effect, they are seeking for a declaration that the publication is declared “slanderous and defamatory.”
De-Eye is also seeking compensatory damages in the sum of ten million Ghana cedis for “loss of reputation against the defendants.” The company is also seeking an order “directed at the defendants to retract the said defamatory publications and render unqualified apology in the same prominence on Joy TV and four publications in the Daily Graphic.”