Politics of Friday, 31 January 2020
The attention of the Office of the Secretary to the President has been drawn to various commentary on social media that suggests that the complaint lodged against Sammy Gyamfi, the National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress, by the Secretary to the President, with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), is borne out of revenge and/or malice or is politically motivated.
That suggestion is erroneous and should not be entertained at all. The complaint was lodged with the CID on 28th November, 2019, following the publication and dissemination of a forged memo purportedly signed by the Secretary to the President, seeking to direct the Chief of Staff to convene a Cabinet meeting. The forged document was published, with extra commentary, on the Facebook page/account of Sammy Gyamfi.
After the complaint was lodged with the CID, the Police commenced its investigation, and invited Sammy Gyamfi to write his statement, in line with established practices of investigation and the rules of natural justice.
Mr. Gyamfi was unable to honour the invitation from the Police, but instead filed an application at the High Court to restrain the Police from doing its work. It was not until 27th January, 2020, that Mr. Gyamfi was arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant, and cautioned on the offences of possession of forged document and publication of false news with the intent to cause fear and alarm, contrary to sections 166 and 208 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), respectively.
If for nothing at all, it is worth stating that no citizen of this land would have been given the two-month luxury of time and space that Mr. Gyamfi enjoyed following the complaint lodged on 28th November, 2019, especially in a situation such as this.
The position of the Office of the Secretary is that a crime has been committed; a serious crime at that. A document purportedly from the Secretariat of the President allegedly signed by the Secretary to the President has been forged and published widely, and no one should accept that as being normal. The forgery of documents emanating from the President’s Secretariat affects the integrity of any such documents and the instructions and directions they convey.
It would be negligent on the part of the Secretary to the President not to take any action to protect the integrity of documents from the President’s Secretariat. Imagine the effect of a forged letter purportedly signed by the Secretary to the President instructing the Minister for Defence to place the military in aggressive, battle-ready positions along the borders with neighbouring countries without cause or instructing the Minister for Finance to transfer monies from the consolidated fund to an unauthorized private account abroad.
Technological advancements can make these unthinkable situations reality. And, in times like these where it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction, such forgeries or dissemination of fake news should not be treated lightly at all.
More particularly in an election year when tensions are high. Social media presents a fertile ground for the dissemination of such fake news, and nobody should belittle the gross negative effects such forgeries and fake news can have on the governance of the State.
We will, therefore, encourage the media, social commentators and especially political actors, to respect the Police and other investigative bodies, and assist them to do their work, rather than hindering them and making all sorts of unwarranted and baseless suggestions.
As citizens, we all have a duty to protect the credibility, integrity and sanctity of official documents coming from the high office of the President of the Republic.