Media practitioners schooled on effects of serious and organised crimes  

By Laudia Sawer 

Tema, Feb. 09, GNA – The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has organised a media training workshop on the effects of Serious and Organised Crimes (SOC) on the Elections 2024. 

The training, funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was held in conjunction with the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) on the theme: “Safeguarding Ghana’s Stability in the Face of Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) Threats During the 2024 Elections.” 

Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh, the Executive Secretary of GACC, said it was a known fact that persons involved in SOC were often connected with election campaign financing, as they had different ways of using illicit funds to finance these activities. 

Mrs Narteh stated that elections were a cornerstone of Ghana’s democratic system, a journey that had been marked by notable successes and challenges; therefore, there was a need for a collective effort that underscored commitment to confront the issue of SOC that sought to threaten the very core of the country’s democratic fibre. 

She said while Ghana’s democratic process at times had been tarnished by instances of corruption, the use of state resources, and election-related malpractices, the SOC presented a real danger to the country’s election. 

The workshop, she said, was to enhance the capacity of media practitioners to contribute to the fight against SOC threats in the lead-up to the Elections 2024, serving as a platform to delve into the intricate web of challenges that Ghana’s electoral system faced. 

She stated that the GACC aimed to deepen public understanding, enhance monitoring mechanisms, and gather the commitment of all especially political actors, to combat SOC in Ghana, and to fortify the governance architecture against illicit funds by reducing corruption. 

Mrs Narteh said the media played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of Ghana’s democracy, consequently, the need to increase awareness and interest in the issue of elections in connection with SOC among practitioners and the public. 

“It is designed to equip media professionals with the knowledge to effectively integrate the combating of SOC threats into their coverage and preparation for the 2024 elections,” she added. 

Mr Samuel Appiah Darko, the Director of Strategy, Research, and Communication at the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), called on the media to endeavour to study and understand the Act establishing the office, to enhance their communication on corruption-related issues to the public. 

Mr Darko also urged the media to ask detailed questions when covering the Elections 2024 to be able to gather and preserve the relevant evidence to support the OSP in investigating and prosecuting election-related offences, such as vote buying and selling, which could attract between five and 10 years of a prison term when successfully prosecuted. 

Mr Leo Antony Siamah, the Deputy Head of Legal and Prosecution, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), said SOC perpetrators could influence elections before, during, and after the day of the event. 

Mr Siamah said such SOC groupings had ideologies, hierarchy, and continuity, restricted membership, engaged in illegal enterprises, threatened force, and used legitimate businesses as fronts while forming strategic alliances to aid their activities. 

He indicated that in the past, such persons only funded political party activities, but currently, they were actively running for elections themselves, to put them in positions where they would have direct influence. 

Mr Kweku Krobea Asante, the Team Lead for Fact-Check Ghana at the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), said reporting on corruption and its related offences was one of the most difficult areas in the media since there was limited information available for practitioners to explore. 

Mr Asante therefore advised media practitioners who wanted to unearth corrupt practices to interrogate sources of funding, contracts and memoranda of understanding, financial statements, partnership deals, and procurement agreements. 

He said other sources were the Auditor General’s report, the Public Procurement Authority, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee, the Registrar General’s Department, and social media.