The shutdown of social media on election day suggestion by the Inspector General of Police which posed a threat to democracy has been reconsidered by the Authorities and the Ministry of Interior.
The Minister of Interior, Prosper Douglas Bani on Tuesday reassured Ghanaians that social media will not be banned on election day as some sections of the media are suggesting,
“I will like to reemphasize that social media will not be banned at any time not even on election day,” he made this statement during an encounter with the media at the Information Ministry yesterday.
The Police administration had stated that it was considering shutting down social media services in the country on election day as the abuse of social media platforms by both political parties and ordinary Ghanaians has often created unnecessary tension in the country.
The Inspector General Police (IGP), John Kudalor who made the annoucement, believed that given the strain that preparations towards the elections have put on the country’s security apparatus, it would be unwise to ignore the potential of social media as an incendiary point for violence.
“At one stage I said that if it becomes critical on the eve and also on the election day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done. We’re thinking about it,” John Kudalor said at the time.
The IGP’s comments generated widespread criticism from the general public who felt such an action would represent suppression of freedom of speech.
Several bodies including the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), the Alliance for Accountable Governance, BloggingGhana, and PenPlusBytes criticized the Police Chief’s words describing the idea as ‘undemocratic.
The United Nations also waded into the debate, stating that it would be opposed to any move to block social media services in the country.
The special representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Ibn Chambas said: “I should say without hesitation that from a UN point of view, we would be obviously averse to any steps that will amount to restricting the democratic space, particularly any steps that will be taken to restrict the freedom of expression.”
The Communications Director of the Police, Supt. Cephas Arthur, had earlier clarified the service’s position on the controversial consideration on the ban of social media.
According to him, the ban was only one of the alternatives under consideration, but the Police will not shutdown social media on election day.
He assured Ghanaians the IGP’s comments were on the spur of the moment and a social media ban was not being considered
“The IGP used the word alternatives but it looks as if nobody heard the other alternatives that he mentioned because nobody is discussing that. This was not part of his speech. It was a kind of off the top of his head answer. Let us not be alarmed. The IGP is not about to block social media on election day and we are going to have our social media,” Cephas Arthur said.
By: Blessing Roselyn Boateng