A police officer stands guard before a separate bail hearing on June 4, 2021, in Ghana. A court jailed and fined journalist Oheneba Boamah Bennie for contempt on February 8, 2022. (Reuters/Francis Kokoroko)

Ghana court jails journalist Oheneba Boamah Bennie for contempt of court

Abuja, February 9, 2022 — In response to news reports that a Ghana court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced Oheneba Boamah Bennie, a host and commentator with privately owned Power FM, to two weeks in prison and fined him 3,000 Ghana cedis (US$468) for contempt of court, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement condemning the verdict:

“It is alarming that journalist Oheneba Boamah Bennie has been jailed in Ghana, especially considering reports that he is in poor health,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Journalists should not be jailed in connection with their reporting or commentary about public figures, whom one would hope would have a thicker skin when it comes to criticism.”

Bennie was charged with contempt of court in connection with a video posted on his personal Facebook page in late 2020 in which the journalist alleged that Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Ado had conspired with judges to influence the 2020 presidential elections. Bennie was detained for two days in December 2020 and placed under investigation over the same video, as CPJ documented at the time.

Bennie asked if his prison term could be substituted for an additional fine because he was in poor health, but the judge declined, Eric Ahianyo, deputy chief executive officer in charge of XYZ Broadcasting, which owns Power FM, told CPJ by phone.