The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has condemned an alleged assault of three reporters of the state-owned Ghanaian Times newspaper by a police officer in Accra on Thursday, 14 March 2019.
The reporters are Malik Sulemana, Salifu Abdul Rahman and Raissa Sambou Ebu.
The GJA has called on the police administration to undertake swift investigations into the incident “and, for once, punish the perpetrators of such heinous crime.”
Reports indicate that a police officer riding an unregistered motorbike hit a vehicle belonging to the Ghanaian Times near the Kinbu Traffic Light in Accra around 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, 14 March 2019 and sped off.
The police officer had allegedly jumped a red light and while meandering his way through traffic, hit the bumper of a Nissan saloon car belonging to the Ghanaian Times with his motorbike, breaking the mirror and windscreen of the car in the process.
The driver of the Ghanaian Times vehicle chased the officer and managed to block the motorbike a few metres away from the accident scene. Mr Sulemana got off the vehicle and started video-recording the incident with his mobile phone. Angered by the action, the police officer attempted to snatch the mobile phone from the reporter and when he did not succeed, he allegedly punched the reporter in the face. Other police officers and a soldier in uniform allegedly joined the assault of the reporter.
The two other reporters in the vehicle – Salifu Abdul Rahman and Raissa Sambou Ebu – were also heckled, and in the process, Ms Ebu, a nursing mother, collapsed and was rushed to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital for treatment.
According to the reports, the police officers demanded the mobile phone of Mr Sulemana and subsequently handcuffed and bundled him into a police vehicle. They then sent him to the Ministries Police Station and detained him for about four hours. The police were said to have ignored several pleas from the reporter to send him to the hospital for medical treatment.
The reporter was later brought out of the cell and allegedly dragged on the staircase to an office on the second floor where he was asked to write a statement but he declined to do so, insisting on the presence of his lawyer before proceeding. He was then sent back into the cell where an officer at the counter continued to hit him in the back.
It took the intervention of ACP David Eklu, the Director-General of Public Affairs Directorate of the Ghana Police Service, and ASP Efia Tenge, the Accra Region Police Public Relations Officer before the reporter was released.
The GJA, in a statement, said it finds the assault by the said police officers “barbaric” in an era of rule of law when the police are supposed to be law enforcers rather than lawbreakers.
“We call on the police administration to find and punish the perpetrators of this dastardly act to serve as a deterrent to others and redeem the image of the Ghana Police Service from the shameful tag of a brutish institution. This incident must not be added to the list of unresolved cases of assault against journalists by police officers. This culture of impunity must end now!” the statement said.
The GJA said it will not relent in its efforts to seek justice for all journalists who have been assaulted by police officers in the past and have called on all Ghanaians to join them in condemning “such barbaric conduct by the police.”
“Twenty-seven years into our democratic dispensation, it is important for the police to appreciate that we live under the rule of law and not the rule of the jungle,” the statement added.