The Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs) on Friday, lifted the the ban imposed on the dancehall singers Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy after they were suspended following an onstage brawl at the event’s 2019 edition.

The decision was made public in a press statement on 12 February. “The board agreed to admit them back to the scheme, hoping that such altercations that bring the scheme into disrepute do not occur at future events. This makes them eligible to participate in this and subsequent editions of VGMAs if they so desire,” the board said.

Days earlier, ahead of the official announcement, organiser Charterhouse Ghana’s head of public events and
communications, Robert Klah, told the Accra-based Hitz FM that the board had agreed to end the suspension at its first meeting ahead of this year’s event.“It was in principle decided that the ban should be lifted,”Klah told the radio station.“There is a reason why this altercation happened and you want to be sure that they don’tresurface. You want to have that kind of conversation to understand and agree on how things should move.”

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Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy’s 2019 ban also meant that they were stripped of the awards they won on the night.

Multiple eyewitnesses reported that the scuffle started when Shatta Wale and his entourage made for the podium after Stonebwoy had walked up to receive his Reggae/Dancehall Artist of the Year Award. At the height of the altercation, Stonebwoy pulled out a gun, forcing guests to flee the auditorium.

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After the incident, Shatta Wale said his motive to approach the stage was to congratulate his colleague, a public gesture he hoped would bring an end to a lengthy public feud.

Meanwhile, the board’s decision to admit Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy back into the scheme has split opinion among fans and industry watchers. Whereas some welcome the decision, others, including artist manager Lawrence Nana Asiamah Hanson, rejected the board’s decision.

Hanson also accused the organisers of taking advantage of the artists.“They know they cannot do without them hence the lifting of the ban,” he said. “That is total nonsense and disrespect to the two artists. They should have informed them of their decision and asked them if they were okay before making that decision.”

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