The President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has been severely criticised by colleague editors for endorsing the Chief of Staff’s claims that there was no wrongdoing in the presidential press corps accident.
The accident claimed the life of Ghanaian Times reporter, Samuel Nuamah and injured several others.
Some journalists and groups like the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) have called for a probe into the circumstances that led to the rental of the vehicle that was involved in the tragedy.
Journalists on board the vehicle that was returning from Ho in the Volta Region where the president had attended a programme organised by the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) church complained about the recklessness of the driver.
The Ghana Television’s Napoleon Atokitoe said the vehicle had two close shaves before the accident.
But GJA President Affail Monney says after a meeting between the Association and the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, it has been concluded that there was no wrongdoing.
He told Joy News’ Manasseh Azure Awuni it came to light after the meeting that the vehicle hired for the journalists was in good condition.
According to him, this will not be the first time the presidency through the transport officer has done business with the car rental company, so there is no doubt due process was followed.
“The Chief of Staff assured that it was purely an accident and the state of the vehicle could not be blamed neither the driver,” he said.
In a response to whether he was satisfied with the Chief of Staff’s assertions even though his reporter (Affail Monney works at GBC), Atokittoe had said something to the contrary, Mr MoNney said, “I am inclined to believe that he [Chief of Staff] was candid with what he said”.
He added that after a separate investigation by the Association, it became apparent that the car rental company where the vehicle - described by the journalists as rickety - was rented, was a responsible company.
The GJA President said Wisdom Awuku had contradicted the account of Napoleon Atokitoe.
Mr. Monney quoted him as saying Napoleon was sleeping when the accident occurred and could not have monitored or observed happened.
Joy News' checks have revealed that the presidential staffer Wisdom Awuku was not in the vehicle when it was involved in the accident.
Some senior editors have criticised the GJA president for his comments.
They told Joy News the leadership of GJA cannot believe the account of the presidency more than the journalists involved in the accident and must ensure the safety of the presidential reporters is guaranteed.
“Whatever Mr Debrah has told Affail Monney which he prefers to believe as gospel as opposed to what his reporters have told him must be very interesting. He has no justification in believing the chief of staff. I am hugely surprised and he should better tell us why he believes a politician as opposed to his colleagues who have given him enough briefing”, News editor at TV Africa, A.C. Ohene said.
News Editor at Accra-based Peace FM, Akwasi Agyeman said, “I am disappointed by what the GJA president said. I don’t think it is fair for the president to believe the account of the presidency rather than what the victims have said. It is time for the GJA to sit up and push for things to be done for journalists."
Head of Metro TV News, Eric Ahianyo also said, “I don’t think anybody apart from those involved in the accident can give us a better account of what happened, their account is more authentic than any other someone will give us”.
Mr Ahianyo believes that an independent investigation should be conducted into the issue because someone at the presidency must be punished for what happened.
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