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PPP says “media monitors” on NCN payroll not illegal

by Zena Henry

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Monday said it did nothing illegal by employing some 20 persons as “media monitors” out of the then Office of the President, but being paid by the State broadcaster -National Communications Network (NCN).

The media monitors were allegedly not serving NCN, but were performing tasks that directly benefited the PPP while being paid with state funds. PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee was asked the party’s position on this issue Monday June 8 during a weekly press conference since it was under the PPP government that the media monitors were said to be set up by then Information Liaison to the President, Kwame McCoy.

“Every time there is a change of government, there will be things which it did not agree with the previous government. There’s no government that comes in that takes up lock, stock and barrel what the previous government did,” he said.

He said that the APNU+AFC Coalition came into government, “they found some things they were not happy with and they decided that they are not going to run with that…” “The main point that is being missed,” the General Secretary said is that, “there was nothing illegal in the way people were employed. It was open. There’s nothing illegal about the setting up of these different bodies within the government apparatus.”

Rohee  became defensive, however, when asked whether the party was concerned about the media monitors set up being “fraudulent” since it is alleged that the persons while receiving more than GUY$20,000 fortnightly from NCN, were actually creating fake Social Media pages and using other Online communication tactics to attack party opponents and critics.

He countered: “Every government sets up institutional arrangements as it deems fit to deal with issues. All I am saying, it was not illegal. What they were doing was nothing illegal. If you question the modus operandi under which they received salaries well that’s a matter for the people who employed them to answer. I am dealing mainly with the broad policy issues,” he clarified.

It was alleged that the 20 media monitors were made up of close relatives and associates of members of the PPP, and some of whom were even PPP candidates for the 2015 elections.

The Coalition government had promised a clean sweep of State Media houses to see more professionalism coming out of the entities. While in opposition, the government had suffered immensely from what they said were negative and in some cases, no coverage at all from the country’s publicly funded news agencies.

Going through the records it was found that the 20 persons were being paid by NCN but were not working on their behalf. It was said that these persons had not returned to conduct any media monitoring tasks since the conclusion of the election period.

NCN’s current Chief Executive Officer Molly Hassan says the monies were being paid to the “media monitors” out of that company’s coffers for the past eight years with the approval of the Board of Directors.