Radio Ada, according to various media reports, was attacked last week Friday by gangsters for allegedly discussing matters relating to the Songhor Lagoon brouhaha. Apart from the studio equipment the unidentified persons destroyed, they also attacked and wounded some of the staff of the radio station.
According to a story we have carried elsewhere in the paper today, the police have promised a GH¢10,000 reward for anyone who will provide information leading to the arrest of the criminals. The Minister for Information has also condemned the conduct and appealed to the police to conduct investigations into the case.
Earlier, Electrochem Limited, a private company managing the Songhor Salt mining site, had also disassociated itself from the act, saying they had not sent anyone to attack the radio station. It is an undeniable fact that Electrochem is at loggerheads with a section of the Ada indigenes, who are against the takeover of the lagoon by the company to mine salt.
Last year, police dispatched a team from the Tema Regional Command to ‘arrest’ some of the residents, following an earlier attack on a police team on patrol duties in the area.
With this friction between the indigenes and the salt mining company, it would have been convenient for anyone to conclude that the company knew sometime about the attack. However, since Electrochem has issued a disclaimer, The Chronicle sees what happened in the studios of the radio station as a pure criminal conduct that must, indeed, be investigated by the police and the arrest of the perpetrators.
In a democracy, everyone has the right to express his or her opinion on matters of local or national interest. The advent of the electronic media has even widened the scope, where people can comment on issues affecting them.
Some of these comments may not sound palatable to the ears of others, but it does not mean the critics must be chased and attacked. In the Radio Ada case we are referencing, the attackers who were obviously not happy with the discussions going on in the studio against salt mining going on in the area could have used legitimate means to express their displeasure.
Indeed, the 1992 Constitution guarantees the right of individuals or groups to put in a rejoinder if they disagree with any news item published by the media. They also have the right to proceed to the National Media Commission (NMC) to seek redress.
They can also choose the worst form of it – proceed to court if the person(s) feels that he or she has been defamed. Though all these avenues were available, the gangsters and their sponsors, if any, chose to take the law into their own hands by physically attacking the radio station and its staff.
Obviously, Ghana is not a banana republic, but a country where the rule of law holds sway. If under the least provocation, one can get up and attack a radio station, then we cannot be talking about democracy, let alone its sustenance.
We believe some of these gangsters have once upon a time relied on a radio station to put their messages across to the public, but, today, they have turned against the same medium they had previously used to their advantage.
Never should what Radio Ada suffered occur in this country again. In our view, the police also have a major role to play if we, as a country, are to nip this development in the bud. The Chronicle is, however, happy that the Police Administration has already taken it up the issue and is doing everything possible to get to the bottom of it.
Certainly, those behind this attack must be tracked, arrested, prosecuted, and jailed, if they are found guilty at the end of the trial. This will send a strong signal to the public that the media is there to serve the interests of the people and must not be turned into punching bags.