The Ghana police service has announced it will no longer ban social media on election day.
It follows widespread condemnation of the police after IGP John Kudalor threatened to ban social media platforms in order to, according to him, prevent people from using them to destabilise the country on election day.
“At one stage I said that if it becomes critical on the eve and also on the election day, we shall block all social media as other countries have done. We’re thinking about it,” COP Kudalor said.
The service, has, however, backtracked from that position with the police public affairs director, Superintendent Cephas Arthur, saying there was never an active plan to do that in the first place.
“Let us not be alarmed. The IGP is not about to block social media on election day and we are going to have our social media,” he said.
This article brings you the five reactions to the police's plan, some of which probably got the service to change its mind:
1. Kofi Annan spoke against it
Former secretary-general of the UN, Kofi Annan, said banning social media may bring short-terms gains, but in the long-term, it won't work.
"We live in a global society, what you shut down here is available elsewhere and today’s world is interconnected that you may think you are keeping information from them but they get it and I don’t think it’s worth the effort,” he said.
2. The UN opposed it
The special representative of the United Nations secretary general for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWA) warned last week that theUN would not endorse any attempts to ban social media in Ghana during elections.
3. Audrey Gadzekpo condemned it
Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, a renowned communications expert and senior lecturer at the University of Ghana, vowed to hit the streets in protest if the police went ahead with the ban.
4. Abdul Malik Kweku Baako opposed it
The editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide said he would join Prof Gadzekpo on the streets if the ban went ahead.
“I believe the society, as a civilised law governing society, we should be striving for responsible speech or responsible use of media outlets, whether traditional media or social media. That is what we should be striving for, but if it comes to the extremes, choosing between the culture of silence and ugly noises, I will prefer the latter to the former,” he stressed.
5. Dr Emmanuel Kwesi Aning opposed it
Dr Aning opposed a ban on social media, urging the police to rather sensitise people to the dangers of abusing social media platforms during the period.
“Let’s talk to people about the need for caution on that day and let us test how sensible we can all be and therefore let’s keep social media open,” he said.
Organisations such as the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ghana Decides and Penplusbytes also condemned the move.