“This is disgusting!” – Samson Lardy slams Speaker for ‘no interview during sittings directive’
The Speaker of Parliament’s order to journalists not to cover press conferences while parliament is in session has been described as a new low in media freedoms.
Legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini, has slammed the Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mike Oquaye for a “disgusting” directive issued Wednesday.
Prof. Mike Oquaye issued the directive on Wednesday and threatened to punish journalists who go contrary to the unprecedented rule.
The order came days after the Minority walked out of Parliament and addressed the media to explain their boycott of the State of the Nation Address last week Thursday.
But the tipping point was after the gallery was left empty as journalists chose to interview MPs outside parliament.
The Speaker of Parliament intoned that it is “forbidden” for journalists who have been accredited to report on plenary sessions to “abandon” the house to conduct interviews.
He quoted a Twi proverb which means ‘we do what is important before what is nice.”
The Speaker warned that any journalist who disregards this order will become an “unwelcome guest”. “Your welcome will be duly withdrawn,” he said and stressed he takes a “serious view” of the matter.
His order had the bi-partisan blessing of the Majority and Minority leaders.
But exasperated by the order, Samson Lardy Anyenini was emphatic, “the Speaker has absolutely no business conducting himself in the manner that he has done.”
Photo: Samson Lardy Anyenini
He said the order flouts several clauses of the 1992 constitution which upholds media freedoms and frowns on interference and censorship.
He mentioned Articles 21 and 162 of the 1992 constitution.
The legal practitioner, who is the host of influential radio and TV program Newsfile, explained that when reporters go to parliament, they are doing what the law says it should do for the people.
“They have goofed big time”, he said and dared the Speaker to carry out his threat to withdraw accreditation to journalists who disregard his order.
“They don’t come there at your pleasure. They don’t come there because they are your guests…that place is the people’s assembly” he went on.
It “makes me feel depressed” the lawyer and a keen advocate for media freedom was at pains to express his shock at the Speaker, a former political science lecturer, and a lawyer.
“And to think the speaker actually wrote this statement and read it that is more frightening and depressing.”
“This is disgusting to think that we could get to this point,” Samson Lardy expressed disappointment at the “illegal and unconstitutional” order.
Samson Lardy Anyenini said expressed surprise that Parliament which must know the laws guaranteeing media freedoms would be issuing this rule.
He was, however, confident that the courts would not “blink” in quashing the Speaker’s order.
He said he has “no doubt whatsoever” that the judges would tell “the Speaker and Parliament in their faces that they have absolutely no right to try to interfere in the editorial discretion” of media houses.
NDC MPs Sam George and A.B.A Fuseini have joined a list of opposition MPs who have condemned the Speaker’s order.