The pressure is mounting on the police to arrest the bodyguard of New Patriotic Party MP for Evalue-Gwira Constituency, Catherine Afeku, who allegedly assaulted a Metro TV journalist, Alhaji Mustapha Ashley.
The MP’s bodyguard is reported to have heckled Alhaji Ashley and deleted a video he had taken prior to the commencement of the hearing of a court case involving the MP’s spouse and one Angate Borzar.
The Regional branch of the GJA condemned the act in a statement, describing it as an “affront to democracy.”
“We want the identity of the said bodyguard established, arrested, and made to face the law for abuse of power and ensure that such perpetrators of violations against journalists are punished.
“We want to remind the Police and the Minister of the state that we are in a democratic era and therefore the era of tyranny belongs to the past,” the statement from the GJA added.
It also called on the regional police command to investigate the police officer who assisted the bodyguard to carry out the act.
Alhaji Ashley joins the growing list of reporters who have been assaulted in the line of duty in recent times.
Calls have mounted on the government and other political parties for the protection of journalists.
In October 2018, a Joy FM reporter was assaulted by a member of John Mahama’s security detail while covering Mr. Mahama’s campaign to be an NDC flagbearer.
Three journalists were also assaulted by security guards at the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) headquarters when they were covering a demonstration by some angry party members on December 21, 2017.
On March 14, 2019, a group of police officers brutally assaulted three journalists from the Ghanaian Times newspaper, leaving one in a critical but stable condition at the hospital. The journalists, who were on their way to cover a programme, got embroiled with one police officer who had hit the mirror of their car with his motor bicycle. Other police officers joined in assaulting the journalists.
A day later on March 15, a pastor, Reverend Owusu Bempah stormed the premises of Accra-based Radio XYZ with four thugs in search of one of the station’s presenters, Mugabe Maase. The pastor said the presenter had made derogatory remarks about him during the previous day’s edition of the political talk show that the presenter hosts at the station.
Threatening to kill Maase and get the station closed down, Owusu Bempah reportedly created a chaos at the station as his thugs attempted to manhandle guests who condemned the invasion. It is the second time in four months that the pastor has attacked a radio station.
“We unreservedly condemn this dastardly act by Prophet Owusu Bempah and trust that the security agencies shall deal with the matter expeditiously,” a statement from the management of Radio XYZ said. The management has since reported the matter to the police.
Prior to these incidents, investigative journalists, Manasseh Azure Awuni of the Multimedia Group had been receiving chilling threats from unknown persons. The threats followed the release of an investigative documentary by the journalist on March 7, 2019, about an alleged vigilante group reportedly aligned to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), which has been using the former seat of government, the Osu Castle, as its training grounds.
The Media Foundation for West Africa was deeply concerned about the sad events of the past week which add to a growing number of press freedom violations in Ghana in recent times.
These violations create a creeping sense of insecurity for journalists and the media in Ghana which is otherwise held up as a model in Africa in terms of respect for press freedom.
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