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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reckoning With Criminal Political Hoaxes

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COMMENT: Reckoning With Criminal Political Hoaxes

On The Crime And Punishment of Political Hoaxes

The price of liberty, they say, is eternal vigilance. The price of peace is justice and fairness, and the ability to swiftly deal with offenders. When people commit crimes and nothing happens, they feel encouraged to even try more daring stints. It is not impossible to find out and punish those who take it upon themselves to deceive and deliberately mislead the Ghanaian public. I am going to show that this is possible by mentioning names and challenging them to prove me wrong!

I personally think the individual who first put up this story on the web must know something about this forgery. Most of these hoaxes are individual jobs of party fanatics who think by so doing they would be augmenting the chances of their various parties and candidates at the polls. In order to eradicate the canker, we must simply focus at the source. In today's world such things are so easy to determine.

The earliest version of this story I have so far gathered was posted on October 23, 2012, by omgghana.com, under the title, " [EXPOSED] President Mahama and Wife Stash $170 Million In Swiss Bank Account � IMF Threaten To Cut Aid To Ghana". So the simplest thing to do is to ask the individual in charge of this website how he came about such a story.

There is an urgent need for Ghanaians to remove themselves from harm's way by dealing drastically with such malicious lies. Freedom of speech ought to be protected. We must protect the ability of every citizen to help expose corruption. But this type of protection must not be extended to those who manufacture their own facts and mislead the public into drawing wrong conclusions. A lie is an injury, and this lie was intended to injure the judgement of Ghanaians in a crucial electoral year.

This is a big deal. Freedom of opinion can never be stretched to cover a concocted story which has no shred of truth in it, mischievously attributed to a source that has nothing to do with the story, just to deceive the Ghanaian public! We do not have any law that protects people who want to deceive us in our democracy. It is not useful at this stage to merely speculate which political party is behind this. What is important is to invite the web-master of Omgghana.com to assist the police in their investigations.

Towards the end of the 2008 Presidential elections, a hoax that nearly brought the country to the verge of civil war, took to the electronic and print media. This was a letter forged to look as though it was a leak from the personal e-mail of ex-President Rawlings, in which he was purported to have had a "hit-list" of prominent Ghanaians to be eliminated, in the event that the NPP came to power.

Even though this hoax nearly threw the stability of the country into the air and diverted much attention of the national conversation on it, nothing meaningful came out by way of prosecuting those who were behind it. This was a monumental failure of the Ghana Police, whose cyber crime division has not yet been seen to crack a single crime! That hoax also had a "first time" that it was put on the web. The earliest source of such activity can be traced to Mr. Yofi Grant, who was then working in the Communications team of Dr. Mumuni Bawumia, NPP's Vice Presidential candidate, then and now.

I pointed out then, that this was very harmful and dangerous to our democracy and should not be taken lightly. I also expressed the legitimate fears that if effective steps were not taken to bring this under control, they were bound to be even more skilful the next time around. In any case, why should people who indulge in such activity do so with impunity? Why is it that there is apparently no fear associated with such a criminal behaviour?

Here is how the earliest version of the Rawlings so-called "Hit-List" that almost brought our country on the brink of war:

From: "Yofi Grant"
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2008 09:10:46 -0000
To: [deleted]
Subject: RE: Could this possibly be true???
�..yeah, whats new? I guess he will try any means possible�� if you live in Ghana you will understand, he has been up to all sorts of things�.

R. Yofi Grant
Executive Director, Databank Financial Services Limited

This crime has no expiring date! The more we punish the perpetrators, the more certain we can be that we are on top of this dirty politically motivated crime! I am challenging Yofi Grant to prove me wrong, if he is not the source of the Rawlings hit list hoax, where did he get his information from? The same question must be asked of Omgghana.com. If we do not begin to put some fear of the law into the hearts of these individuals behind these politically scams and criminal behaviour, we run the risk of paying dearly for this with the insecurity and instability that some of these hoaxes are capable of. We have to know the difference between what is news, free speech, political opinion, and what is a crime!

Forward Ever! Backwards Never! Long live Ghana!

Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.
Give me a follow on twitter: twitter.com/TheOdikro

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