I will tear up NPP’s letter again if I get the opportunity – A-Plus roars
Entertainment pundit and political activist, Kwame Asare Obeng (A-Plus) has said if given the opportunity again, he would destroy the letter that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) wrote to the Management of United Television (UTV) in which they raised concerns over the structure of the United Showbiz programme.
A-Plus said he has the right to protest as enshrined in the Constitution hence his earlier action of ripping apart the letter on live television.
Speaking in an interview with Johnnie Hughes on the Sunrise show on 3FM on Tuesday, October 10, he stated that he got access to the letter online and printed it.
“I think everybody has the right to feel how they want to feel. There is nothing wrong with people criticizing people for their actions. However, it doesn’t change the fact that if I get that letter now, I will tear it again,” he said.
He added “I found that letter online, it wasn’t presented to me, I went online and got the PDF of it, printed it and as a form of protest I ripped it apart. That is my right enshrined in the Constitution that I can protest and for this kind of protest, I was not going to disturb public order. So. I did not need a police permit. It is fine, anybody can criticize me,” he said.
Earlier, the Head of Media Studies at the University of Media, Arts and Communication (UniMAC), Dr. Paul Anzah Ackah Herzuah, said the tearing of the letter by A-Plus was as bad as the invasion of the station by the youth suspected to be members of the NPP.
Dr Harzuah said although the attack on UTV was despicable and unfortunate, the Management of the station should have controlled A-Plus and stopped him from tearing up the letter.
Speaking on the Sunrise Show with Johnnie Hughes on 3FM on Monday, October 9, Dr Harzuah said “It was unfortunate, given the fact that it involved a top political party like the NPP. The invasion was a despicable act, it can be condemned in no uncertain terms, but looking at what happened before the invasion, A-Plus tearing the paper or that communique live on TV, was also not the best as far as I am concerned.
“We have freedom of speech and freedom of action granted, he can defend himself. But I think that the media also have a responsibility of really checking certain things. We are all aware that this country is polarised in terms of NPP and NDC and so if you are a media station and you profess to be neutral, what happens is that you have viewership that comes from both sides of the political divide. So, if something happens and some of your viewership realize that it didn’t go well, then you the media station you have the responsibility to put certain things in place.
So I thought that UTV could have reined in a little bit, the actions of A-Plus but again A-Plus also thought that he had the right to do whatever he did. But I think it was a very despicable act by those who invaded the premises.”
Prior to tearing up the letter, A-Plus had indicated on one of the editions of the show, “This letter is appalling because we have received threatening calls from people plotting to disrupt the show. NPP members should refrain from such actions and should not write such letters again. This is an absurd letter.”
He continued by asserting, “No one in this country can dictate what we do on this show, especially when the President is a seasoned lawyer and someone who believes in the rule of law.”
Regarding the attack, former Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, has said the it indicates how the government has allowed impunity to thrive.
He said that similar actions were taken in the past when the youth of the NPP attacked state officials, but steps were not taken by the government to punish them.
“Perhaps, these thugs have taken cue from how the government and the party have allowed impunity to fester and grow in the NPP.
“If I recall, no one was allowed to be punished when similar groups went to the seat of government in the Ashanti region to attack the then-national security coordinator. Again, no one was made to face the law, when these brutes attacked a court in Kumasi making the lady judge who was sitting on that case run for her life in the full glare of the public,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the NPP has distanced itself from what happened in the studios of UTV.
The Director of Communications of the party, Richard Ahiagbah in a statement said “It has come to the attention of the leadership of the New Patriotic Party an unfortunate incident that occurred last night at UTV involving some sympathisers of the NPP who went to the studio to raise a protest against the United Showbiz programme.
“We wish to state forcefully that the said act was not sanctioned by the party, and we apologise unreservedly to UTV, the programme team, and the general public.
“The right of citizens to free speech is one of the cardinal values of our party, and we are committed to its advancement. The proper way for anyone to express any concerns over any programme by any media house would be to make a formal complaint.
“Advancing in numbers to interrupt the work of any media house is unacceptable, and we condemn it.
“The Ghana Police Service is currently investigating the matter, and the party intends to cooperate fully with the investigators to deal with the matter expeditiously.”
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah also condemned the attack and stated that the right to free expression and freedom of the media are key pillars of Ghana’s democracy and must be fiercely protected.
“The Ministry condemns in no uncertain terms any unauthorized entry into media organization in protest of media content or interference with media work,” the Ofoase Ayirebi lawmaker said in a statement issued on Sunday, October 8.
He added “The Ministry stands with the Police and the courts in the conduct of their duties. The Ministry wishes to encourage the media especially broadcast media show hosts and panelists to do their utmost to promote national cohesion even as they exercise their fundamental freedoms.”
Following a complaint from the Despite Media Group and Ministry of Information that certain people had invaded the studios of UTV, the Police said they proceeded to the scene and arrested sixteen persons.
The incident occurred during the broadcast of the station’s United Showbiz programme on Saturday, October 7. The show was disrupted immediately after it started around 9PM.
The arrested persons were captured in a video indicating they had gone for one of the panelists Kwame Asare Obeng (A-Plus).
When the show resumed after about an hour break due to the interruption, A-Plus accused the NPP of masterminding the attack, a claim the Director of Communications of the NPP, Richard Ahiagbah denied after he visited the studios to respond to the allegation.