He made this remark following an apology by the management of Accra-based Montie FM to the justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana.
The radio station and one of its presenters, Mugabe Maase, as well as two other panellists who appeared on its political programme ‘Pampaso’ have been cited for contempt of court for threatening to kill the justices who were sitting on the case involving the Electoral Commission and Abu Ramadan, a former National Youth Organiser for the Peoples National Convention (PNC) over the credibility of the register of voters.
But the management of Montie FM in a statement apologised saying: “The management of Montie FM wishes to render its sincerest apologies to Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justices of the Supreme Court and the Bench in general for the use of its platform by certain panellists recently to make statements that appear to threaten the safety of the Supreme Court Bench. Management condemns absolutely the said statements, which it considers regrettable and dissociates itself from those statements.
Dispelling assertions that the suit against the radio station amounts to gagging of journalists, in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom on Accr100.5FM Thursday July 7, Mr Ayikoi Otoo said the right to speak comes with responsibilities and that if the radio presenter who has been summoned before the court was a trained journalist, he would have been taught media law and ethics, which teaches the dos and don’ts of the media profession.
He said: “The laws have always been there. If you are a journalist and you have been properly trained, I am sure that they trained you about media freedom and they also trained you about the limitations that you have in such matters.”
He added: “…Are you saying nobody gave them (Montie FM) training in terms of libel law and slander law… and that there is a limit you can go? Your right to throw your hands ends where somebody’s nose begins, so there is no right which is absolute.
“Right goes with responsibilities so if they are trained journalists, [I am] sorry to say that today many people complete school and they cannot find jobs because there are no jobs. And, so, they find themselves becoming stringers, becoming reporters, and eventually becoming hosts. Especially these days it depends whether you can speak impeccable Twi or speak impeccable English. Once you can do that, then you become a host or a reporter when in fact you have not been trained as a journalist.”
Mr Otoo concluded: “So if you are a trained journalist you should know about libel law or what you call media law. They teach that in the schools… The fact that you have the right to speak does not mean you can go about insulting people from morning to evening. They [judges] also have their reputations to protect, they have their lives to protect. You cannot be threatening them.”