After two years of protracted conflict and disagreements that have seen mediations in the court of law and the palace, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has set next week Friday, June 24, 2022, as the date to elect its national executives.
The elections were supposed to have been held in 2020, but the drama has stalled it.
A member of the GJA in the Western Region, Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu, is petitioning the election committee of the association to investigate and act on the conduct of one of the three aspirants contesting the position of the GJA national president, Albert Kwabena Dwumfour. (The other two GJA presidential contenders are the editor of The Ghanaian Times, Dave Agbenu; and a journalist and communications consultant, Gayheart Mensah).
In the petition that has been sighted and verified by The Fourth Estate, Mr. Aklorbortu has alleged that Mr. Dwumfour “with tacit support from the Chairman of Tobinco Group of Company, Mr. Amoh Tobbin, offered members of the GJA in good standing offered each member seated(sic) [at a meeting], in addition to the buffet, an amount ¢500 (sic)to vote for Mr. Albert Dwumfour.”
The petitioner further alleged that “Mr. Amoh Tobbin, in the said meeting at the Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi, told journalists to vote for Mr. Dwumfour in order to protect and promote his business.
“He said during the previous administration (government), his business suffered under Mr Opuni and that he used the media to protect his interest. Therefore, voting for Mr. Albert Kwabena Dwumfour to become the GJA President will mean protection for his business interest.”
Short videos sighted by The Fourth Estate show Samuel Amoh Tobbin of the Tobinco Group of Companies and Albert Dwumfour in a meeting with some journalists in the Western Region.
Mr Tobbin is heard in the video saying if it were a political thing, he would ask, “Should I give a TV [set] or this or that”, which was greeted with laughter from the journalists present at the meeting.
“I will be of help because I’m in the industry and more so, I’m a businessman. So, I’ll need you tomorrow. If you come tomorrow after voting for him and I turn you down, Tobinco is a household name. Who knows tomorrow?” he said.
“I’m not a politician, who will say it and just go away. I’m a businessman. I’m in a lot of businesses. So do him [pointing to Albert Dwumfour] a favour. Do me a favour by bringing him. When you bring him… why I want you to bring him on board is to support my business as well. He’s my corporate person. He does all my social [activities],” he told the journalists.
The petitioner says the actions of Albert Dwumfour contravene “Article 52 (b) (c) and (d) GJA constitution 2004. It states ‘52 (b) it shall be an election offence for any candidate to directly or indirectly offer cash, favors, any incentives, or apply threats with the intention to influence the election results. (c) Any candidate found contravening the provisions of Article 52 (b) shall be disqualified after due investigation by the elections committee and (d) if found guilty, the candidate shall be barred from standing for any GJA elections for the next two (2) subsequent general elections.’”
This revelation comes at a time the GJA is accused of corporate and political capture. The contestants in next week’s election, including Albert Dwumfour, have promised to restore the association to its former glory.
Mr Dwumfour is the National Organiser of the GJA whose tenure expired in 2020 but is yet to hand over because the election to choose new executives was not held.
He is also the Group Head for Corporate Affairs of the Tobinco Group of Companies. When The Fourth Estate contacted him, he confirmed the said meeting with journalists and the Tobinco Group Chairman.
He said Samuel Amoh Tobbin happened to be in the Western Region for a separate event and his meeting with the journalists coincided with the venue Mr. Tobbin was meeting other people so his boss decided to sit in.
He said after the meeting, Mr. Tobbin suggested to him (Mr. Dwumfour) to give the journalists something and after consulting with him, the two agreed to give them 500 cedis each.
“He asked me whether I was leaving them like that. He asked about the number of delegates [in the Western Region] and I said about 20 and he said I should give all of them 500 cedis,” Mr. Dwumfour told The Fourth Estate.
He added that the Western GJA Regional Secretary, for the sake of Transparency, asked Mr. Tobbin to announce to all the journalists present the amount he was going to give to them.
“He told them, “My brother will take care of you, but it will be 500 cedis,’” Mr. Dwumfour quoted Samuel Amo Tobbin as telling the journalists present.
He said when Mr. Tobbin realised that the delegates in the Western Region were not many, he said the 500 cedis should be extended to all the delegates, including those who were not present at that meeting.
Albert Dwumfour, however, denies the allegation that the money was a bribe. He said he had visited the Western Region alone four times and each time he had met with the delegates, he gave them money.
When this reporter asked how much he paid in the past, he said it ranged between 200 and 500 cedis. He said the petitioner was part of the meetings and he had even given the petitioner 500 cedis when he came to Accra.
“I was in Wa yesterday and I am in Bolga as we speak. I gave transportation (money) to every journalist that came to see me,” he told The Fourth Estate.
“Tobinco did not talk about his business benefitting from my election. He said, ‘If you vote for my brother, it’s like voting for journalists. I will sponsor your training workshop etc.’ He didn’t talk about his business interests,” he emphasised.
“You said you give money to delegates wherever you go to campaign,” this reporter asked. “Who funds your campaign?”