The government in 2022 was heavily criticized for the arrest of persons who made some allegations against the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his family.
In fact, leaders of civil society organizations in Ghana and other notable Ghanaians accused the government of subtly reintroducing the abolished Criminal Libel Law, which criminalized speech.
This was after the arrests, detentions, and trials of journalists and other Ghanaians for allegedly publishing false news as well as making disparaging comments against the president and his family.
Here are some Ghanaians who were arrested for utterances they made:
ASEPA’s Mensah Thompson
Mensah Thompson, Executive Director, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), was arrested by the Ghana Police Service for alleging that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, together with his relatives, had used the presidential aircraft of the Ghana Armed Forces for a shopping trip to the United Kingdom in December 2021.
On January 7, Thompson posted an allegation on his Facebook wall, the first two paragraphs of which read: “So between the 20th and 30th of December, 2021… during the Christmas, the children of a close relative of the President took Ghana’s Presidential Jet the Falcon EX jet on a trip to the UK just for Christmas shopping.
“They didn’t go alone, they went with their friends and partied in the sky all through the trip, taking snap videos and flaunting their lucky adventure.”
Mensah Thompson later backtracked on his claims and rendered an unqualified apology for peddling the false claims after the Ghana Armed Forces debunked the claims, discredited the reportage, and asked the general public to disregard it.
His apology could not save him from being arrested and charged with the publication of false news and offensive conduct conducive to the breach of peace. He was later granted bail of GHC 50,000.
Accra FM’s Bobie Ansah
The host of the Citizen Show on Accra FM, Kwabena Bobie Ansah, was also arrested on Thursday, February 11, 2022, by the police and detained at the Nima Police Station.
In a brief statement on Friday, January 11, 2022, the Ghana Police Service said his arrest was in connection with an “alleged case of publication of false news and offensive conduct.”
According to the police, Bobie Ansah’s arrest was necessitated after he “turned down several invitations from the police to him and others involved in the case to assist with the investigation.”
Multiple sources indicated that the arrest of Bobie Ansah was about some allegations he made against the first lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
Bobie Ansah, on live radio, accused the first lady of appropriating state lands for herself for the use of her private foundation.
“Do you know that Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Samira have appropriated for themselves the aviation lands?” He questioned in a short video of the programme obtained by GhanaWeb.
“As I speak to you today, there are Chinese nationals working on the aviation lands that were acquired by Kwame Nkrumah for the state for the expansion of the expansion of the aviation sector for its growth. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has had the guts to apportion the state land to herself and is putting up a project in the name of her foundation – an NGO,” he added.
Media General’s Captain Smart
Broadcast journalist Godsbrain Smart, famously known as Captain Smart, was arrested two times in 2022, but only one of the arrests was related to comments he made against the president and his government.
On Wednesday, October 19, 2022, Captain Smart was arrested by officials of the National Investigations Bureau (NIB) while on his way home from work.
Before his arrest, the Ministry of Information had accused the journalist of impugning the character of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The statement was made on the back of a broadcast made by Captain Smart on October 17, 2022, in which he accused the president of being actively involved in illegal mining, also known as galamsey.
The ministry described the claims by Captain Smart as false and malicious and further accused the journalist of engaging in unethical and irresponsible journalism.
The journalist, after his release, confirmed that he was arrested in connection with the allegation he made against the president.
A mother of four, Salamatu Mohammed
On Wednesday, November 16, Salamatu Mohammed, a mother of four, was arrested for wishing President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo dead in a viral video.
In the said viral video sighted by GhanaWeb, the woman, who was berating the president for the current economic conditions in the country, questioned why witches and ritualists from the northern parts of Ghana have not killed the president yet.
“Akufo-Addo, we are begging you in the name of God, we cannot even afford pots to cook our food. Do you want us to use your head to cook?
“Now the price of an aluminium cooking pot has increased from 6 million (GH¢ 600) to 12 million (GH¢1200). Why?
“God will punish you. The witches in Ghana and the ritualist from the north can’t you kill this man… I have four children; do you know the feeding fees I pay? Do you know the feeding fee, I am going to pay today… Idiot,” she said in Twi.
The lawyer of Salamatu Mohammed, Gideon Koku Abotsi, said in an interview with GhanaWeb that his client was released by the police without being charged with any crime.
He confirmed that the police arrested Salamatu Mohammed because of the viral video, and that they (the police) said they would be investigating the matter further.