Parliament has downplayed suggestions that the Speaker of the House, Prof. Mike Oquaye is seeking to gag the media with his decision to summon the Dean of the Parliamentary press corps over the conduct of journalists at yesterday’s [Tuesday] sitting.
The dean was summoned following a complaint from the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to the effect that journalists abandoned proceedings in the house and gave audience to the Member of Parliament for Ellembele, Emmanuel Armah Buah who had concerns about the Energy Sector component of the State of the Nation Address.
Delivering his ruling in Parliament today [Wednesday], the Speaker indicated that he would not hesitate to declare journalists as strangers to Parliament if due coverage is not given to the proceedings of plenary.
“It is forbidden. If they have any doubt to abandon the permission given them to cover proceedings in this House and go outside the Chamber itself and do some other work…I want to let the media know. If that which is reported to have happened should happen again, I have reminded you of the fact that you are here as guests by my permission. Because of the importance this House attaches to the inking profession, any such humiliation will make you an unwelcome guest and your welcome will be duly withdrawn.”
The Speaker’s decision has been interpreted by some members of the parliamentary press corps as an attempt to stop them from discharging their duties.
However, Parliament in a statement clarified that the Speaker’s decision was not aimed at stopping the media from doing their work.
“Parliament has noted media reports purporting that the Speaker of Parliament is seeking to gag the media. The Office would like to put on record that at no time either in his capacity as Speaker or in his personal capacity has Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye sought to prevent the media from doing its work. Parliament recognises the critical role of the media and the Speaker made reference to the same when he spoke about the high regard with which he holds the media’s work.
“Both leaders referred to the need for a dutiful media and the need for the media to remain in the Chamber while the House is still in session. Parliament, the Speaker, leaders and the entire Membership of the House remain committed to the ideals of a free media and freedom of speech as provided for in Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution and will not do anything to jeopardise this,” the statement said.