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Don’t Abuse Our Atmosphere Of Free Speech, President Akufo-Addo Cautions Nation

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has made a passionate appeal to journalists, political commentators and the Ghanaian population not to abuse the prevailing atmosphere of free speech, as any such mishandling could have a negative impact on the territorial integrity of the nation.

Ghana is noted for its vibrant media and its endorsement of freedom of expression, particularly under the Fourth Republican constitution, which has been in force for the past 29 years. However, recent developments in the country’s media, with rising disinformation and misinformation, have become a source of worry for many well-meaning Ghanaians.

President Akufo-Addo exchanges greetings at the ceremony with the Chief Imam, Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu

Addressing the Muslim faithful at the National Mosque of Ghana complex in Nima today (20 July 2021) to commemorate the Eid ul-Adha celebrations, President Akufo-Addo said although he and his government are firm believers in free speech, the whole country must bear in mind that unguided utterances could compromise the security of the state, as witnessed in other parts of the African continent, such as Rwanda.

Verbal guns

“I am a firm supporter of free speech,” President Akufo-Addo said. “The government I lead is also a firm supporter of free speech amply evidenced by the culture of free speech prevailing in the country.

“However, we must all bear in mind that words can be as incendiary as guns. The Bible tells us that ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue‘. All it took was the mating of words by an irresponsible journalist, amplified by the power of radio, to ignite the tragic genocide in Rwanda,” the president said.

“It is important for all of us to recognise that there is only one country we call home, and that is Ghana. We must protect our way of life in the words of the national pledge, with all our strength and with all our hearts.

“We should not allow the actions and utterance of a few misguided persons to jeopardise and destroy the united Ghana we currently possess, which is the envy of many on the continent and in the world.”

The president and Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia wave to the crowd during the Eid celebrations

COVID

In his address, President Akufo-Addo noted with concern the recent increase in numbers of COVID-19 cases and the challenge this poses to the state.

According to the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 online portal (www.ghanahealthservice.org/covid19), there are 3,124 active cases in the country as of today (20 July 2021) and, sadly, 815 people have lost their lives as a result of the pandemic.

Overall, 99,160 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Ghana in March 2020. Some 95,221 individuals have thankfully recovered from the viral infection. The new infections over the reporting period are an alarming 343.

“As we continue to count on the grace of God to protect our country from the ravages of the pandemic, like we have done since its outbreak, we can only minimise its health effects and avoid a full-blown third wave if we continue to be responsible and observe the safety and hygiene protocols,” President Akufo-Addo said.

The vice-president and Second Lady Samira Bawumia at the Eid ul-Adha event

“The recent increase in the number of infections is a source of worry for me and, indeed, a source of worry for all Ghanaians. From the rising numbers, it is safe to concluded that we let our guard down and we are beginning to live our lives and conduct our business as though we are in normal times.

“It is important to repeat that the virus is still with us and until each and every one of us receives a double dose of the vaccine, the protocols must continue to be a part and parcel of our daily activities,” the president further said.

Origins of Eid ul-Adha

Eid ul-Adha, the “Festival of Sacrifice”, commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to God. It is the second significant religious festival in Islam. The first of the two observances is Eid ul-Fitr, which was observed this year in May, and which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

During the Eid ul-Adha festival, Muslims acknowledge the devotion of Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his son Ismail in response to the orders of Allah SWT (God). Ibrahim, also known as Abraham, is a prominent figure in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

The Chief Imam, Sheikh Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, leads the faithful at the prayer session for Eid ul-Adha

In his remarks, President Akufo-Addo congratulated the Muslim community as they celebrate Eid ul-Adha.

He called on all Muslims to emulate the example of the Prophet Muhammed and to sacrifice to ensure the building of the Ghana we all want.

#Ahenkanfmonline / 93.3 FM

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