Paul Adom-Otchere, the host of Good Evening Ghana on Metro TV, has asked Dr Elikplim Kwabla Apertogbor, an aide to Togbe Afede XIV, not to berate the Council of State for directing him to Metro TV for information on “travel allowances paid to members of the Council of State from 2017 to 2019.”
According to him, all the brouhaha about the Council of State’s directive to Dr Apertogbor is for political gains.
Speaking during a ‘touchscreen presentation’ on his show, Thursday, June 16, 2022, Adom-Otchere explained that Section 21 of the RTI Act is clear and anybody who does not agree can channel their disagreements to the RTI secretariat or the court of law for proper interpretation and not to write commentaries on social media.
He said it is crass for people to write commentaries on either Twitter or Facebook rather than using the right processes to seek a proper interpretation of the law.
“There are issues here to interpret; what is a public institution. Is parliament a public institution, is a TV station a public institution – these are issues that we have to interrogate. If a TV station publishes on its website some information, can it be described as an official publication, if it publishes on its Facebook page some information, can it be described as official information. . . these are the matters that call for an interpretation of this matter.
“Nobody should berate anybody for saying you wanted information [and they directed you to another institution]. And people just simplify it; it’s all for political gains; they just simplify it. Somebody asked the Council of State for information; they said you should go to Metro TV [because] they know that the letter had cited Section 21 [of the RTI Act]. And the RTI bill – like any other Act of Parliament – is intended for implementation so that we can look at it and determine what should be amended,” Adom-Otchere explained.
He continued: “If people don’t like or people think a public institution does not include a TV station, fair enough; they can make that decision, but if you make that decision in your house, it won’t matter; you have to write to the RTI people for an interpretation, or you have to go to the court.
“Better still, for those who are looking for that information, if their real position is that we do not believe or trust the Council of State, they should say so; they should write to the Council of State and say we don’t trust you and there must be a basis for that.
“You don’t sit on social media and write names of people…that’s crass!…the preponderance of saying something on Twitter or Facebook doesn’t change anything,” Paul Adom-Otchere stressed.
Dr Elikplim Kwabla Apertogbor, on June 10, 2022, wrote to the Council of State to request information on “travel allowances paid to members of the Council of State from 2017 to 2019.”
The purpose of the request filed under the Right to Information Act, according to the applicant, “is to verify a claim made by Paul Adom-Otchere that Togbe Afede XIV was paid for travelling from Ho to attend meetings for the period he served as a member of the Council of State.”
But in a response dated Monday, June 13, 2022, the Council of State directed the petitioner to access the information from Metro TV as it had already made the requested information available to the media house.
“Please be informed that the information requested is readily available by another public institution, Metro TV, who requested for same on the 8th of June 2022 and have since put it into the public domain.
“Per provisions of Section 21, of the Right to Information Act 2019, Act 989, you are directed to contact Metro TV for the said information,” the response signed by the Finance and Administration Director of the Council of State, Stephen Blay, said.
What does Section 21 of the RIT law say
Section 21 of the RTI Act 2019 (Act 989) reads:
21. Information readily available in official publication
Where a public institution receives an application for access to information which to the knowledge of the public institution is readily available in an official publication held by another public institution, the public institution shall
(a) direct the application to that public institution having custody of the official publication containing the information sought; and
(b) notify that public institution of the request by the applicant.