Seth Terkper writes: Reversal of BoG’s stance on budget deficit-financing

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Columnist: Seth Terkper

During the decade-long Global Financial and other crisis from 2008, BOG did not apply any of its fiscal powers under the Act 612. On the contrary, the BOG and IMF curtailed access to Banks funding under Act 612 during Phase I of the IMF ECF Program, even as the economic plight worsened.

The causes were (a) the Global Financial (2008); (b) disruption in gas supply from WAGPI (Nigeria) that created a major power (“dumsor”) crisis; and (c) aggravating the adverse budget overruns from implementing the 2008 Single-Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) (2010 to 2014). The economy declined further with the fall in crude oil prices from late-2014 to 2016, with a slump in Ghana’s GDP growth rate but not recession as other SSA states. The recovery under ECF Phase II came in 2017, under the current government, with crude oil exports from two (2) new oilfields (Sankofa and TEN) and recovery in its price.

Throughout these problems, BOG cautioned against “fiscal dominance” of monetary policy and was key enforcer of the “zero-financing” rule under the ECF Program. It prepared the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MOF (ECF Prior Action or PC) to ensured that BoG will not extend a hand during the economic and fiscal crisis—not even use the 5 percent liquidity support under Act 612 to pay the one-time single-spine arrears.

IMF missions also insisted on accessing equally harsh domestic and external financial markets to pay for the deficit (ECF Prior Action or Pperformance Criteria). Ironically, this was required for the IMF to release the next tranche for BOG balance of payment (BOP) support, under market conditions that had to do with the OPEC crude oil price pressures and second BRIC-led crisis (2014-16), when Brazil, China and India (and most SSA states) went into recession. It was then that Ghana floated its 2015 Sovereign Bond at the highest interest rate of 10.75 percent.

2. Reversing BOG’s fiscal stance

Hence, the reversal of BOG fiscal stance beyond COVID-19 fiscal needs defies IMF and BOG caution on “fiscal dominance” and “zero-financing”. In fact, under ECF Phase 1, MOF did not bow to intense pressure to “sweep” the Sinking Fund to lower the budget deficit. Between 2015 and 2017, Ghana used the Fund to redeem US$550 million of the 2007 (US$750) Sovereign Bond to avoid default and expensive rollover. The current Government used US$200 million of the US$550 million to redeem the final balance on October 4, 2017. It also drew down US$250 million in May 2020 from the Stabilization Fund for COVID-19 support, a quarter of the IMF’s RCF US$1 billion loan. Therefore, the current government becomes the main beneficiary of the petroleum (PFMA) fiscal buffers and stabilizers—to which it did not add much despite inhering three (3) from 2017, compared one (1) oil field between 2011 and 2016.

1. Will BOG’s fiscal stance also be permanent

The issue is not about measures that respond to the COVID-19 crisis; the concern is the government’s poor record of making temporary measures permanent—and adhering to the PRMA. The following are concrete examples:

Petroleum buffers and stabilizers

Since 2017, GOG has failed to use two (2) additional oil fields to improve the PRMA buffers. It has (a) not accounted well for the stabilization fund; (b) spent the budget funds (ABFA) mainly on consumption; (c) not retired a single external bond from the sinking fund—despite a low cap that brought in significant flows; (d) not replenished the contingency fund; and (e ) not paid anything into the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF).

Temporary “nuisance” taxes

GOG did not make the temporary levies lapse, despite calling them “nuisance” taxes and promising to end them from 2017. Since the Rawlings era, past governments use the Budget process for the temporary import duty and fiscal (corporate income tax [CIT]) stabilization levy. As austerity measures, they imposed them during “hard” times and used discretion to return to Parliament to remove them during recovery or in “good” times.

The current levies became effective in 2013, with gradual removal before the 2014 to 2016 global crisis—with certainty to make them lapse in 2017 with new fiscal flows from the TEN and Sankofa oil fields. Despite taking over these fields and Jubilee as well as a recovery in crude oil prices, the current government did not let the taxes lapse. Further, on taxes, it has blocked most VAT Input Tax Credit (ITC) that is due to registered VAT businesses and raised personal income taxes (PIT) on households, resulting in higher consumer prices and tax burden.

ESLA extended to 15 years and beyond

Parliament passed the Energy Sector Levies Act (ESLA) in November 2015, with the energy and enhanced road levies, to resolve high levels of arrears that affect the banking sector. ESLA was to lapse within 3-to-5 years, which was the repayment period for the first ESLA restructuring loans with 15 domestic banks. Since 2018, the duration for the levy depends on the refinancing of some ESLA Bonds for about 15 years.

Given this background, the large fiscal gap could keep BOG’s funding over a long period. The Minister’s Statement is vague on the period of deferral for MOF’s interest payment obligations to BOG, as “… 2022 and beyond”. Parliament could should set a “renewable sunset date” for proper monitoring and repayment as economic conditions improve—a recovery in crude oil prices from the below US$20 pbl to US$30 pbl (plus) in the last three (3) weeks.

4. BOG’s Balance Sheet “strong”

The fiscal support will weigh on BOG’s balance sheet, deprive it off valuable incomes, and add to domestic debt without servicing. The BOG facility of Ghc5.5 billion (possibly Ghc10 billion) to GOG has a moratorium of two (2) years, during which period, there will be no servicing of interest and principal.

This will add to the deferral of interest payments on BoG debt of Ghc1.22 million approved by Parliament at the request of the Minister. These two significant (existing and new) domestic debt will add to the Public Debt (estimated to exceed 70 percent at end-2020) with annual cumulative effect, as the deferred amounts increase the principal. Hence, it is important to keep proper accounts of these accrued liabilities.

BOG’s engagement implies that it has a healthy balance sheet to withstand the weight of fiscal intervention and monetary intervention would have been a more useful mandate. It important to be cautious since the bulk of liability to depositors during the banking sector restructuring fell on the fiscal as loans, including the ESLA Bond. The redemption period for some bonds to customers of defunct banks for 3-to-5 years at zero (0) interest rate. Further, some state banks have not fully met their recapitalization.

It seems BOG did not get immediate and full foreign exchange flows and reserves benefits from recent MOF external loans. The MPC Statement notes: “GOG’s decision to access the Eurobond market earlier in the year and Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) financing from the IMF resulted in a build-up in reserves of US$1.5 billion (2.2 % of GDP)”—from a gross inflow of US$4.5 billion made up of Sovereign Bond (US$3 billion) and RCF (US$1.0 billion). This may be due to refinancing (backed by hard currency) and repayment of previous loans.

5. Conclusion

The post-COVID expectation is that BOG’s stance and measures will remain expedient and not bring back the ghost of “deficit” or “budget” financing. Ghana has experience of deficit-financing in the pre-SAP/ERP era in the 1970/80s which may seem a long time but still worth remembering. On occasions, BoG’s balance sheet has been impaired in the process and needed to fixing by the government. The frontloading of Public Debt that includes the full use of its IMF quota, early in the COVID-19 era, is worrisome since there is no prediction yet about when it will end. Ghana economic performance under the ECF Program was exceptional by African standards but the rush with which applied for the RCF loan not being followed by most “weaker” African states.

Given the varied experiences under the ECF Phases I and II, the IMF must develop “crisis” intervention guidelines—along the lines of mild, medium, and exceptional—for monetary and other interventions. COVID-19 is unique, with measures such as lockdowns, border closures, face masks, strain on health facilities, and social distancing rules that exacerbate its health and economic effects. The call for “crisis guidelines” is due to virtually conventional impact (though different in significance) of financial and non-financial crisis on developing countries: fall in aggregate demand in advanced economies [and elevated supply-chain disruptions]; consequential fall in demand for commodities and fall in their prices; fall in foreign currency flows and reserves; loss of fiscal revenues; and loss of production and employment.

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Mr. President, I’m worried about your reputation

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A journalist is killed. Nobody has been held responsible, including those who incite the public to attack him and they would be responsible for it.

National Security operatives raid a media house, seize journalists and phones and computers. They allegedly torture the journalists, but could not prove any offence they have committed. Nobody has been punished for it.

A journalist is invited to the CID headquarters because he did a video that predicted accurately what the president is likely to say on the easing of restrictions. Nothing is being done.

The list goes beyond the media landscape…

Did they tell us that the current occupant of the Jubilee House is firm believer in democracy, free speech and the rule of law? Does he know about these things? Does he sanction them? Does he know that the average journalist feels more insecure in his regime than in the regime of his predecessor? Does he still hold the values attributed to him, those that made him a strong voice and a challenger of these vices in the Rawlings era?

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, this is not the change we voted for. Unless you’re telling us that you’re responsible for only the good things that happen in your adminstration, you should be concerned about the sudden return of culture of silence.

This is not how John Dramani Mahama led us.

This is alien to the NPP I grew up knowing. This is not how the Kufuor-led NPP behaved in opposition and in government. This is not the reason some chiefs in the Upper East Region gave President Kufuor a chieftaincy title with the stool name “Tampugre”. Tampugre literally means a refuse dump. Symbolically, the refuse dump accepts and tolerate every rubbish that is poured on it. That speaks to the character of President Kufuor. Mahama and Mills could well have deserved this stool name.

Mr. President, I’m worried about your reputation. If you don’t sit up, you may get a chieftaincy title from my people. But your stool name will be “Bugum.

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The voter’ register dilemma

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“Clearly, the NPP still discredits the Voter’s Register, irrespective of the fact that it was the vehicle for the party’s return to power in 2016. Probably, the party’s electoral palpitations and sleepless nights about the register emanate from inaccuracies in the register that it believes to be advantageous to the NDC.”

So the NPP won the 2016 elections hands down, battering the NDC in broad daylight by over a million votes! And mind you, it was a one touch victory for the NPP, so comprehensively won there was no need for a second round of voting, which had become synonymous with Ghana’s presidential elections in recent years.

It was the first time a sitting president had failed to win a second term in the Fourth Republic and it was veritably unprecedented. But the embarrassing defeat was not only confined to the presidential elections. The parliamentary elections was even more catastrophic for the NDC, as its majoritarian dominance in the Legislature was overturned by the NPP who captured almost a third of the seats (169 to the NDC’s 106).

The victory was a sweet revenge for the NPP, coming on the heels of the 2012 disappointing campaign of then candidate Akufo-Addo, which nearly consigned him to political irrelevance, after suffering successive defeats to former Presidents John Evans Atta-Mills and John Mahama in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

After resurrecting his political fortunes miraculously through the Presidential Election Petition of 2012, and putting up an abrasive electioneering campaign which wrestled power from the shell-shocked NDC in 2016 (even with a Voters’ Register that the party had ravaged, lampooned and excessively desecrated, why is the party so obsessed with compiling a new register at all costs, and discarding the reliable compendium that won it the Jubilee House? Is the NPP provoking the ire of peace-loving floating voters, who are technically the kingmakers of Ghana’s elections?

Clearly, the NPP still discredits the Voters’ Register, irrespective of the fact that it was the vehicle for the party’s return to power. Probably, the party’s electoral palpitations and sleepless nights about the register emanate from inaccuracies that in the party’s calculations are advantageous to the NDC.

Granted that the register is over-bloated (for no register is without defects) this country has a tradition of removing dead people from the register, and validating the living as truly living! Measures exist by which newly qualified voters are added to the register in the full glare of community members and party activists. All these could have been achieved with diligence at a little cost to the taxpayer and yet accomplish the same purpose of ridding the voter of filth!

Should the NPP succeed in replacing the register irrespective of the high cost of the exercise, rising political tension, COVID-19 sensitivities, civil society outcry and a tight election timetable (in a rainy season) could all combine to make the party, particularly the EC unpopular. Furthermore, this could create opportunity for a feisty disputation of the election outcomes, or even legalize the outlandish tradition for political parties to create newer versions of the Voters’ Register upon winning an election.

To many people, the independence of the Electoral Commissioned appears to have been compromised by the replacement of the former EC boss, her constitutional iniquities notwithstanding. Her distasteful constitutional removal could be the beginning of a new culture of weakening and bastardising the Electoral Commission by politicians eager to sacrifice the demise of EC’s original autonomy for political gain.

The NPP’s best bet for winning the 2020 elections is delivering on the party’s manifesto promises. A new register by itself could be unreliable if the performance is unsatisfactory. But no blushes…the battle is still the Lord’s! PS: By the way, nobody in my household owns a Ghana Card yet. I hope there is ample time to own one before our disenfranchisement is complete.

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Columnist: Theodore Dzeble

EC’s approach to compiling voters’ register dangerous – Security analyst

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Security Analyst, Emmanuel Bombande, has said the Electoral Commission’s approach to compiling a new voters’ register for the December 2020 elections spells danger for Ghana’s democracy.

According to him, instead of building consensus between both the supporters and opposition to the compilation of the new electoral roll, the EC has decided to go to Parliament to seek legitimacy.

“When we are confronted as we are now; the EC supported by the ruling party argue that the voters’ register is not credible and on the other hand, opposition parties and CSOs say the voters’ register is credible, you do not solve such impasse through the passage of the Law (CI) in Parliament. You dialogue over the impasse and build consensus before you pass a law based on the consensus built,” he said.

His comments follow a greenlight by Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 to the Constitutional Instrument that will give legal backing to EC’s controversial decision to compile a new register.

Twenty-one out of 25 committee members who were present at the meeting voted 12-9 in favour of the C.I. 126.

The governing New Patriotic Party, which supports the EC on the new register has majority of 14 members on the committee that approved the C.I. The opposition National Democratic Congress, which does not support it, has 11 members.

Emmanuel Bombande wrote on Facebook that a dialogue between the supporters and opposers of the move by the EC, the Ghanaian creativity of problem-solving together would have prevailed.

“In our current context, one side says the register is not credible and that is it. There is no discussion. This is dangerous and not a good development. As it stands, the maturity of the C.I. in parliament could be or begin to be the slippery road downhill of our revered democracy,” he writes.

Mr Bombande, who is a co-founder of the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and a Senior UN mediation advisor said considering that Ghana was an ECOWAS member, it was important for the state to be guided by the ECOWAS Protocol A/SP1/12/01 On Democracy and Good Governance.

The protocol states that “No substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws in the last six (6) months before the elections, except with the consent of a majority of political actors.”

Mr Bombande says it is already less than six months before the elections on December 7, 2020.

Read his full Facebook post below:

Is it not sad, Ghana has to make a decision on the crucial laws that should guide elections in 2020, not through our best practice of consensus building first, before legitimisation in Parliament, but this time, through a vote on the basis of a winner, the majority, and the loser the minority?

There are serious implications for such an outcome.

1. While the CI (law) in question will make legal the rules for the conduct of the elections, it will equally violate the ECOWAS Protocol A/SP1/12/01 On Democracy and Good Governance. This Protocol states under Elections in Section II, Article 2 (1). “No substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws in the last six (6) months before the elections, except with the consent of a majority of political actors.” It is already less than six months before the elections on 7th December.

If on the basis of division through voting, the CI is passed and allowed to mature in June, first it would have violated the six months threshold. It would violate a treaty we are bound by. It is instructive that because the CI will allow for an entire new Voter’s Register, it is substantive. Because the CI was passed through voting, there would be no consent of a majority of political actors. It should be noted here that political actors does not refer to Politicians. It is the understanding of all the actors whose consent enhances good governance. This includes the Traditional Chiefs, CSOs, Women Organisations, Academia, Labour Unions etc. All these actors are calling for consensus on the law that governs the elections, not a split in Parliament of a winner and a loser on how the law is passed.

2. Ghana is a key member of the ECOWAS Community. The Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance is supplementary to the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism For Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security. Both Protocols emerged out of bitter experiences of ravaging wars in West Africa beginning with the Liberian Civil War that spread to Sierra Leone. Guinea was on the brink at a point.

Then was the case of Guinea Bissau, later on Cote d’Ivoire and much later a turbulent political transition in Burkina Faso. Out of these experiences, Ghana was a leader in how we must act collectively to prevent bloodletting and wars. Under the stewardship of President Rawlings, Ghana led the ECOMOG Mission to Liberia with a Ghanaian as first ECOMOG Commander. The Protocol referred to as the “Mechanism” was signed in 1999. The Supplementary Protocol was signed in 2001 when it was the turn of President Kufour. As Chair of ECOWAS, President Kufour presided over the Accra Talks that ended the Liberia Civil War. President Mahama as Chair of ECOWAS mediated the first phase of political crisis in Togo before elections in 2015. He later Mediated in the political transition in the Gambia with his colleague Heads of State, Presidents Buhari, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Koroma. President Nana Akufo Addo Mediated the second phase of the Togolese crisis before elections. All this is to say, we were /have been well placed in such Mediation and Leadership roles because Ghana has always been a reference. Our elections have been competitive but the rules governing each election was built on consensus. the outside world admired Ghana for this. Elections outcomes were therefore acceptable because the rules of the game was fair to all political parties. In the political competition, fairness in the game is the golden rule. In the way and manner this CI will mature in a divisive and polarised manner, it could be the beginning of Ghana losing that prestige and convening role as Mediator in West Africa.

3. When we are confronted as we are now; the EC supported by the Ruling Party argue that the Voter’s Register is not credible and on the other hand, Opposition parties and CSOs say the Voter’s Register is credible, you do not solve such impasse through the passage of the Law (CI) in Parliament. You dialogue over the impasse and build consensus before you pass a law based on the consensus built. If such dialogue were allowed and convened, the Ghanaian creativity of problem solving together would have prevailed. That is the spirit of Ghanaians looking out for one another. I cannot make the detailed reference here. I have been part of a high level mediation with similar impasse in a Country over a Voter’s Register. Through dialogue, all sides of the political divide in that Country together with their CSOs, EC, Chiefs etc. agreed for an independent auditing of their Voters Register with the prior agreement that they will accept the audited report. The Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) put together Experts who verified and audited the Voter’s Register. The verification report was accepted by all . The Country went on to organise a very peaceful election. In our current context, one side says the register is not credible and that is it. There is no discussion. This is dangerous and not a good development. As it stands, the maturity of the CI in parliament could be or begin to be the slippery road downhill of our revered democracy.

4. We understood at first hand how conflicts can be devastating not only to those who fought it but an entire region. The collective resolve of all the 15 countries to prevent such armed conflicts and chaos informed our Protocols that I have referred to earlier. These protocols are binding treaties. When we sign a treaty we are obligated to it. It is binding. We cannot for partisan political interest in Ghana, violate a treaty that has been a collective effort and that has worked so far to prevent conflicts. Our very Honourable Members of Parliament who will vote a CI without the consent of the other Parties would be guilty of a treaty violation. They will no longer have the moral right to sit in the ECOWAS Parliament that is the institution through which we are bound by treaties. Ghana will lose its legitimacy to be a good Mediator because we will not be different from those we go to help who find it difficult to build internal consensus.

In an election in which the political environment is highly polarised with unbridled partisanship, we do not make it worse with a law that deepens the divide.

Finally, the global appeal from the top leadership of the UN and across board is simple; it is compelling that as part of the response to COVID-19, all countries in the World organising elections should build and seek consensus in the conduct of the elections. We in Ghana seem not to care or heed to this appeal.

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Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Ajumako DCE worried over caterers refusal to cook for Covid-19 patients-Rev Kwesi Nyarkoh

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Ajumako District Chief Executive Rev Ransford Kwesi Nyarkoh is worried that caterers cooking for Covid-19 patients in the district have called to tell him they can no longer continue to prepare food for suspected Covid-19 positive patient under going treatment and those in quarantine. According to the District Chief Executive, caterers have taking decision not to continue to cook for the Covid-19 patients due to excessive stigmatization of their family members. The DCE made this revelation when Ajumako Teachers Credit Union donated GHC 15,000.00 worth of PPEs to the health directorate, Ghana Police, Fire Service, transport unions and market women to fight Covid-19 pandemic in the district.

The Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam Acting Director of Health Esther Amoako Amankwah touched on how the Covid-19 emergency response health team is being fought and prevented by several communities from working to control the spread of the pandemic in the district. Health workers have suffered several attacks resulting in assaults. The assault cases being handled by the police. According to the District Health Director, community members are accusing the team of falsely tugging community members as Covid-19 patients. None corporation from communities is making the fight against the pandemic a challenge in the district. She is appealing to the various communities to corporate with the team to fight the pandemic in the district.

The Ajumako Teachers Credit Union board Chairman Gamadey Semaku is calling on the assembly to do all it takes to enforce Covid-19 protocols in the district. According to board chairman, public adherence to Covid-19 protocols is on the low, hence his call for enforcement. The board approved fifteen thousand Cedis to procure PPEs to support the fight in the district. He is calling on the public to adhere to Covid-19 protocols as directed by government.

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Kate Addo makes u-turn on 2 MPs, 13 parliamentary staff coronavirus status

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Source: My News GH

Public Affairs Director of Parliament, Kate Addo has made a sudden u-turn on her denial that 2 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 13 Staff of Parliament have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A statement from the Public Affairs Office of the legislature on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, denied reports that some two Members of Parliament and thirteen staff of Parliament had tested positive for the virus.

The statement read in parts as “Parliament would like to state categorically that the results of the tests are not yet known and so the report by starrfmonline is not true. Parliament would, therefore, like to urge starrfmonline to pull down the said report and update its audience with the relevant information to the effect that the results from the tests are unknown to Parliament”.

“The confidentiality protocol of testing for COVID-19 is that those who test positive will be called directly by the testing team and be taken through the necessary steps for quarantine and treatment. Officially Parliament is unaware of any such call and has no official figures from the National COVID-19 response team.”

But in an interview with Joy News which was monitored by MyNewsGh.com Kate Addo who the Head of Public Affairs said her department did not say the reports were false.

“It is not as if anybody said it is not true, what was said was that we do not know for a fact that this is what it is,so it could more,it could less,it could be there,it could not be there.”

“The honourable minority whip is higher placed in Parliament, he is privy to information that I may not have, but the official information that I have is that as we speak now testing is still going on, more people are going to be tested,” she said in an interview with Joy News.

“Those who may test positive will be contacted privately this is not information that will be made publicly ….I have spoken to both sides of the house and to the medical director and he told me they were waiting for a case summary which will contain every information on the testing, there won’t be specific names but a number.”

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in a Facebook post said it’s sad how Parliament is handling the testing of Members of Parliament for COVID-19 because there’s nothing to hide.

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CID petitioned over online attacks at Manasseh Azure, Afia Pokua

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Source: www.ghanaweb.com

iWatch Africa has presented a petition to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service over what it described as dangerous online attacks on Ghanaian journalists, Manasseh Azure Awuni and Afia Pokua.

This forms part of the NGO’s effort to counter cyber abuse against journalists and rights activists in Ghana.

“iWatch Africa has officially submitted a complaint against three individuals who threatened journalists; Manasseh Azure Awuni and Afia Pokua online to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police in Accra for further investigation.”

In a press statement published by Joy News, the organisation revealed some three individuals alleged to the brain behind such attacks.

“We are of the view that the individuals captured in the petition to the Police CID violated the Criminal Code, 1960 (ACT 29) Section 17—regarding provisions relating to the use of threats in Ghana,” iWatch Africa noted in a statement after presenting the petition.

“The names of the abusers are withheld due to the ongoing investigations into the case by the Police CID. iWatch Africa reiterates its readiness to assist the police in all their investigations into the matter. We believe that there is an urgent need to sanitize our cyber-ecosystem free from people who hide under anonymity and abuse innocent citizens,” iWatch Africa added in the statement.

Read the full statement below

iWATCH AFRICA PETITIONS POLICE CID OVER INDIVIDUALS WHO THREATENED JOURNALISTS ONLINE

iWatch Africa has officially submitted a complaint against three individuals who threatened journalists; Manasseh Azure Awuni and Afia Pokua online to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police in Accra for further investigation.

The petition which was presented to the Director-General of the Police CID, COP Isaac Ken Yeboah, on Friday, May 22nd is part of iWatch’s broader effort to counter online abuse of journalists and rights activists in Ghana.

Over 600 separate instances of abuse and harassment online were collected and analysed by iWatch’s digital rights desk within the first quarter of this year.

Abuse of journalists and rights activists within the digital space in Ghana is increasing, a phenomenon, experts say could have a profound “chilling effect” on journalism and can ultimately negatively impact one of the tenets of a democratic society, press freedom.

We are of the view that the individuals captured in the petition to the Police CID violated the Criminal Code, 1960 (ACT 29) Section 17—regarding provisions relating to the use of threats in Ghana.

Their names are currently withheld due to the ongoing nature of the case and we are ready and prepared to assist the police in all their investigations.

iWatch Africa remains committed to developing protocols for reporting online abuse of journalists and rights activists; as well as community management and content forum moderation.

Journalists continue to play a crucial role in deepening Ghana’s democracy and we all have a responsibility to protect them.

Signed

Gideon Sarpong

Director, iWatch Africa

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NDC parliamentary candidate petitions CID over death threats

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Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Parliamentary candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for Awutu Senya East Constituency, Naa Koryoo Okunor, has implored the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to probe into death threats she has received over the week from assailants.

She stated that the people require that she steps down from her position in order to save her life.

In a petition letter sighted by GhanaWeb, she pointed out that “I started receiving frightening text messages from the said numbers; 0505895614/0593729701/0548249729 since last week, demanding that I step down from my current position otherwise I will be killed”.

Naa Koryoo Okunor continued that she feels endangered because the alleged “assassins have successfully executed their evil plan on some of our members who are currently dead as stated in their text”.

She, therefore, appealed to the CID to as a matter of urgency, bring the perpetrators to book.

Read below her statement

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Chief Imam leads virtual Eid-ul-fitr prayers

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Arrest those frustrating govt free water policy – Cent Reg Min to police

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The Central Regional Minister Kwamena Duncan has charged the Central Regional Police Commander COP Paul Manly Awini, all District Commanders and the District Chief Executives not to spear those who are refusing to open their pipes to the general public to enjoy government free water policy. The Regional Minister has called on the Regional Police Commander to arrest all those disobeying the directives. The closure of the pipes is preventing the public from enjoying government free water policy. The Regional Minister ordered that, no pipe should be put under locked within these three months period government has directed the public to enjoy free water. He gave the order, when it came up at Moree, a fishing community that has recorded positive Covid-19 cases in the Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese District in the Central Region that those operating pipes in the community only open the pipe early hours in the morning and close them. It has come out that coastal communities are recording higher Covid-19 case in the region. To address the growing number of Covid-19 cases, emergency health committee headed by the Regional Minister, has drawn a program to engage the people of Moree and other coastal communities in the region to sensitize them.

The Regent of Moree, Nana Kwabena Gyapong and his elders have directed that those without face masks will not be allowed to do any business in their market and the community. He expressed concern about none compliance to the mandatory wearing of face mask. Nana, said majority of his subjects still don’t believe the existence of the Coronavirus in the community. According Nana those sent to quarantine center didn’t understand it, hence, their co-operation with health authorities was a challenge. He was grateful that emergency health committee came to sensitize the people. Nana wants the people of Moree to know that Coronavirus is real in Moree community so they should do everything possible to adhere to the protocols to prevent its spread.

The Regional Police Commander COP Paul Manly Awini cautioned religious bodies who are defying the imposition of restriction law which bans social gathering must desist from it to avoid any arrest. It came up at the community sensitization that some churches at Moree are not complying to the order. COP Awini has called on the Kotokuraba District Police Commander to detailed men to arrest any church that may go against the directive.

Some citizens of the community who spoke to Adom News Team said whiles they were terrified when they heard that the community had a confirmed case others didn’t pay heed to the observation of the protocols. It was difficult for the people to adhere to social distance at the community. They expressed gratitude to the emergency health team for sensitizing the community.

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