Chiefs do not have the power to shut down radio stations – Media Foundation For West Africa

Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah

The executive director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, says chiefs have no legal authority to shut down radio stations.

According to him, the alleged closure of Kumasi-based Oyerepa FM by the Kumasi Traditional Council is not based on law.

Speaking in an interview with Benjamin Akakpo on JoyNewsMorning show on Friday, the boss of the MFWA condemned the said closure; describing it as a “worrying development”.

According to him, the closure is also an attack on the freedom of the press and an “act of censorship” which must not be tolerated.

“The chiefs will not have the power to say that we are closing a radio station. I don’t know where those legal powers will come from. So certainly, as I said, it’s a traditional exercise of power knowing full well that with this fiat being issued, the radio station can’t dare to say we’re going to move forward in defiance of what has been said.

Because the consequences could be disastrous in terms of potential physical violence that could be inflicted on them. And so I don’t know where the legal powers would be for that,” he said.

Mr Braimah’s comments followed an order from the Kumasi Traditional Council on Thursday ordering Oyerepa FM to suspend operations.

The order was based on some comments Akwasi Addai ‘Odike’ made on the network.

Speaking as a guest on the station’s political talk show, ‘Odike’ criticized traditional leaders in the Ashanti region for failing to combat illegal mining.

In his observations, he accused the chiefs of helping galamsey and watching without caring about the destruction of forests and water bodies.

He then threatened to get the youths to stage a massive protest against Manhyia if the galamsey threat continues.

Subsequently, the Traditional Council of Kumasi took offense at these remarks and declared it to be a form of rebellion against Asanteman; hence Odike was banished from setting foot in Manhyia.

The Council then asked Oyerepa FM to stop its operations, for giving Odike the platform to make these remarks.

Friday morning’s checks showed the station had been closed as ordered. Oyerepa FM managing director Sometymer Otuo Acheampong said the station would seek to atone for the offense to the Council.

The media house’s television wing, however, remains operational.

Meanwhile, “Odike” whose comments triggered the shutdown revealed that he went into hiding. He said he would only apologize if the Traditional Council reversed its decision to banish him from Manhyia Palace.

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