Gov’t embarrassed itself by causing arrest of Citi FM boss – Gina Blay

Gina Blay, Chief Executive Officer of Western Publications, publishers of the Daily Guide newspaper has condemned the arrest of Samuel Attah-Mensah, CEO of Citi FM stating the government embarrassed itself in the process.

Samuel Attah-Mensah was released Monday night by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) after he was held for several hours.

He was invited by BNI for questioning over a publication on about the arrest of a Ghanaian woman in the UK for possessing cocaine weighing 12kg.

The BNI has received a lot of flak for the invitation with the Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah commenting that the local media were being treated in much the same way as those in war-torn Somali and Iraq.

Gina Blay speaking on the incident on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Tuesday said the BNI's intervention reflects negatively on Ghana’s image.

“It indicates negative [things] for the media landscape and for the government itself so far as I am concerned because when things are going bad for government in whichever direction most often it is the media it targets.”

According to her, when the story broke out on social media Sunday night, media houses, including her outfit, Daily Guide, did key checks to “see if any ingredient in the story is true at all,” and after their checks “most of the ingredients were true.” She believes that Citi FM also did same.  

She admitted that in breaking stories, mistakes can sometimes be made due to variations in figures and facts.

But “What was the purpose in arresting the executive director of the media house?” Gina Blay quizzed. “There was no purpose to it and I think it was just a circus. The government more than embarrassed itself than the media house and such things rather emboldens the media to do their work better.”

In her view, the BNI should have called a press conference to tell the nation exactly what the situation was and “not to arrest a media owner…because there were ingredients in the story that were true.”

“How did the girl pass through Kotoka? Didn’t she go through a scanner? What were the issues? Why was she not arrested in Ghana but in London why? NACOB says it was a collaboration [that led to the arrest], what kind of collaboration is that?” the Western Publications Ltd boss asked for answers.

“I think targeting the media in such cases is so wrong it’s the same as happening elsewhere where journalists are taken and their heads are removed…where will it take you as a government. I think they should do things better,” Gina Blay advised.

The Chairman of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Akwesi Agyeman also commenting on the matter said although the BNI has the right to investigate, the manner in which it went about it was wrong.

“I am in no way supporting what the BNI did, I’m just saying they have a right to investigate [but] the way they went about it is totally wrong and it’s very uncomfortable for media practitioners,” he bemoaned.

Akwesi Agyeman said considering the fact that they are the intelligence arm of the state, they ought to have done due diligence because they will have more information on the matter than the media house.

According to him, “If the BNI wants more information, yes they can investigate but do you invite the MD of a media house without a lawyer? Do you keep him for hours creating uncertainty and also fuelling this kind of speculation? They haven’t done government any favours by their action.”

“All they have done is to foul an already tensed situation because we are dealing with an intelligence matter and so you can’t just go about arresting [and] inviting people without their lawyers.” No allowing his lawyer to see him is an infringement on his rights, the GIBA Chairman stressed.     

Akwesi Agyeman called for strong institutions that are devoid of political influences. | Ernest Dela Aglanu