Ben Ephson supports Speaker of Parliament's warning to journalists

Ben Ephson, Ghanaian journalist has backed Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Ocquaye, who threatened members of the Parliamentary Press Corp with sanctions if they leave the chamber to cover press conferences held by the Minority while proceedings are ongoing.

Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye

Mike Ocquaye's decision comes on the back of a complaint from the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to the effect that journalists abandoned proceedings in the house and gave the audience to the Member of Parliament for Ellembele, Emmanuel Armah Buah, who addressed the media on the energy sector.

"The media are accredited to come and cover proceedings in the Chamber, any group or caucus that may want to engage the press could do so…but it must be before the start of proceedings in the chamber.

"If proceedings are going on in the Chamber and you are accredited to cover the Chamber you can’t leave the Chamber at the beck and call of an intruder Member of Parliament to cover that Member of Parliament," Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.

The Speaker in response said: "It is forbidden. If they have any doubt to abandon the permission given them to cover proceedings in this House and go outside the Chamber itself and do some other work…I want to let the media know.

"If that which is reported to have happened should happen again, I have reminded you of the fact that you are here as guests by my permission. Because of the importance, this House attaches to the MP profession, any such humiliation will make you an unwelcome guest and your welcome will be duly withdrawn."

But Ephson believes the priority of the media in the chamber should be on activities on the floor and urged that the media should be guided.

In an interview on Accra-based Starr FM, he said "I think that it was in the right direction. I think it was wrong for the press corps to leave the chamber to go and follow someone who has decided to abstain from proceedings. The minority took away their right to debate. The journalists could have spoken to the minority after the debate. I think my colleagues were wrong.

"We should stop being used as a rubber stamp when it’s time for their ex-gratia discussion don’t they throw the media out?"

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