Flashback: John Kumah arrested for saying Atta Mills is gay

John Kumah, late Ejisu MP and Deputy Finance Minister

We are in 2024 and it is more than a decade since President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills passed. But the passing of the Ejisu lawmaker, John Kumah takes us back to some time in memory when the young politician was raw and unpolished. He was hitting out on his political career and took every opportunity to shoot himself into the limelight.

In 2011, while J.E.A Mills was President and with under two years to the next elections in 2012, Ghana’s political climate was as volatile as it is now. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was the flagbearer of the then-opposition NPP while John Atta Mills was set to lead the NDC to face his old rival again.

As has always been the case, personal attacks including character painting were the order of the day as party communicators try to outwit their opponents with words. First, the NPP accused the NDC of calling its flagbearer Akufo-Addo a womanizer. A group of young party members which notably included then-young John Kumah organized a pressor. They called themselves the Young Patriots. In their pressor, they warned the ruling NDC that further derogatory remarks on the character of their candidate Akufo-Addo will not be spared.

It was on July 19, 2011, barely a year before John Evans Atta Mills would die while still serving as President, the first of its kind in the country. Following that warning by the Young Patriots, the man who spoke on behalf of the pressure group went on to put into practice what they warned the opposition against.

Just about a week after that warning, the now-deceased lawmaker was alleged to have accused President Mills of being gay. He was alleged to have said those things while on a show on Accra-based Asempa FM. He alleged that the President promotes homosexuality in the country by sleeping with men. Days later while at another Accra-based radio station, Hot FM, he was picked up by the Police. John Kumah was sent to the Police Headquarters for interrogation.

He was soon released by the police. After his release, John Kumah reacted claiming it was a privilege to be arrested for the cause of his party. According to him, “It is an unusual honour a few people can afford, and I thank God that my party has honoured me in this light”.

Commenting on what he said that warranted his arrest, the now-deceased Deputy Finance Minister could not recall exactly what he said. However, he said it was a response to someone who said Nana Akufo-Addo was a womanizer. So he was trying to equalize since he could not sit down and watch his leader’s image soiled by an opponent.

“I remember the person saying that Nana Addo is a womanizer, and I responded by saying that I am happy that Nana Addo chases women and not men,” he said as reported by Modern Ghana.

“And apparently, they think by making those comments, and since there is already an accusation out there that the President sleeps with Ato Ahwoi in the castle, then it means that the President is portrayed as being a gay or something,” he added.

The young John Kumah went on to defend his comments expressing his stance to defend Akufo-Addo, the man who later appointed him as Deputy Finance Minister.

“Somebody made uncomplimentary comments about Nana Addo, my flagbearer, and I will not sit down for anybody to insult my flagbearer in a radio programme. So, I guess I might also have responded in an equal manner about the character of the President, and so they felt that they have to arrest me,” he argued.

On why he was released without charges, John Kumah said they found it useless to keep him as it was just a political escapade.

“Apparently, they themselves have realized that it was a useless effort, and there was nothing to gain out of it. So they said I am discharged. There is nothing anymore. It was just a political fiasco,” he explained.

Reacting to the incident, the then-Communication Director of the NPP, Nana Akomea said the party trained its members to respond in equal measure. He said the party does not encourage its members to kick first but would not tell any member to lay low when they are kicked.

“We have told our people that they should not cast the first stone, but if you are on a programme and your opponent or colleague will not discuss the issue, and they will resort to insults, then, you will have to respond similarly,” Nana Akomea stated.

Nana Akomea argued that while the government does not see any wrong when even its officials call the NPP’s leader derogatory names, the same government finds offence when the NPP communicators return the favour.

“We have all been witnesses to ministers of state, the Koby Acheampongs and other people calling the flagbearer of the NPP names; names of grievous insults, gratuitous insults, and nothing is said about it by officialdom.

“The only time that insults are being made, and offensive conduct is being displayed, is when it comes from the NPP, but otherwise, nothing is said about it from the police or President.”

He urged the country to learn from Nigeria where the President sacked an official for making bad remarks about an opposition leader. According to him, such actions are “the kind of signal that will sanitize our political discourse”.

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