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Occupy Ghana, a pressure group has charged the government to take immediate steps in ending what it describes as “despicable anti-democratic backslides”. This follows the recent arrest and brutalization of Citi FM reporter, Caleb Kudah. Mr. Kudah was reportedly arrested and manhandled by national security operatives this week for allegedly filming at the premises of the National Security Ministry, a restricted security zone. He was released after more than an hour of interrogation.

Another Citi Journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo, who was also picked up later at the premises of Citi FM/Citi TV in what looked like a raid, was released much earlier after a brief interrogation by security officers.

In an attempt to arrest Zoe after tagging her as Caleb Kudah’s accomplice, the heavily armed officers besieged the premises of Citi FM/Citi TV in three different vehicles. While at the premises, the officers tried to overpower Zoe, who at the time was standing at the company’s car park. But in a statement issued by Occupy Ghana, they described the actions of national security as an infringement on the rights of the journalists. Although national security has issued a statement to clarify the events and promising to investigate the incident, Occupy Ghana appears dissatisfied with explanations describing the said interrogations of the journalist as Guantanamo Bay-style assaults. They also accused the national security of disrespecting the intelligence of Ghanaians.

Below is the full statement by Occupy Ghana

OCCUPYGHANA®️ DISTURBED BY ALLEGATIONS OF THE BRUTALISATION OF A JOURNALIST BY NATIONAL SECURITY

OccupyGhana®️ has taken notice of the allegations of assault by National Security operatives on a journalist of Citi FM and Citi TV, Mr Caleb Kudah. News reports and the victim’s testimony allege extra-judicial punishment from National Security operatives including slaps from behind, kicks from booted feet to his groin, molestation and brutalisation of his person while he was handcuffed and could not defend himself.

We have also seen footage alleging a raid of Citi FM’s and Citi TV’s premises by operatives purported to be from the National Security Ministry, to pick up another journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo who details how she was ordered to delete photos and videos on her own phone under intimidation by a person identified by both journalists as a Lt-Col Agyeman and an accomplice such as one Chief Inspector Ampadu.

We also take notice that the female journalist was not harmed physically, but the gentleman was “worked over” by the operatives for more than five hours. In no case, we further notice, was any lawyer present for either journalist.

We have also seen a letter purported to originate from the National Security Ministry and signed by its Chief Director Lt-Col Ababio Serebour (Rtd) indicating the Ministry’s awareness of the allegations and rather unhelpfully claiming without any timelines that disrespects the intelligence of Ghanaians, the Ministry’s willingness to investigate the allegations and revert. We also notice the nonchalance in verbiage and the non-subtle attempt of the Chief Director of the Ministry to brand the serious allegations and the Guantanamo Bay-styled assaults as “interrogation” that clearly did not respect the right of the person to a lawyer.

It goes without saying that we in OccupyGhana©️ are troubled by these developments, and it is with an iron will that we maintain civil language towards the National Security Ministry in issuing this press release. These allegations, in their very nature, have no place in a civilised democracy, a 29-year-old democratic experiment, and under a republican constitution that touts the rule of law. The allegations outline a bestial culture of impunity, an animalistic disregard for basic human rights and a demonic manifestation of tendencies that have no place even in a holocaust camp. We are appalled and disgusted, and when proven true by an independent body, we demand that the perpetrators so named be charged with nothing less than the crime of attempted murder, tried, convicted, jailed and dismissed from the employment of the government without any benefits.

Consequently, we ask the following questions:

1. Was Mr. Caleb Kudah, at any point during his accosting by the National Security operatives, informed of what specific Ghanaian law he had breached by his mobile phone documentation of the issue or object that had piqued his journalistic interest?

2. Was the journalist read his rights at any point during Lt-Col Serebour’s (Rtd) description of an interrogation?

3. Under what law did National Security operatives coerce both journalists into deleting materials on their personal mobile telephony devices?

4. The Chief Director of the Ministry of National Security alluded to some “No Photography” rules at restricted security zones. Can he be kind enough to refer us to what law his description of such rules is grounded in?

We have no faith that the National Security Ministry can provide a satisfactory investigation into the damning allegations and therefore would like to advise Government to set up an independent body of inquiry into the matter.

The allegations of brutalities against journalists are not new, but we are disturbed that the assaults on members of the media keep getting bolder and bolder, and the impunity is assuming hellish proportions. This must stop immediately. If this is what happens to journalists, then we shudder to think of what is happening to other voiceless Ghanaians in the quiet at the hands of security operatives.

Even more concerning for us is the knowledge that Mr Kudah was documenting vehicles acquired by Government and for which it had been claimed, had been disposed of and not left to rot as at least two investigative journalists had uncovered over the past two or so years. If that was the case, then his cause was just. That his quest to hold government accountable for tax-payer expenses resulted in his alleged brutalisation sickens us immeasurably. Once independent investigations confirm this terrible maltreatment of Mr Kudah, government must understand the depths of our disgust with its press freedom credentials if any of the perpetrators of these heinous allegations are not made to face the full rigours of the law.

We reiterate that we fully support members of the media in the discharge of their lawful duties. We remind government that it is unpardonable treachery to the citizens when people who are hired with citizens’ monies, trained with citizens’ monies, paid with citizens’ monies, clothed with citizens’ monies, fed with citizens’ monies, and (painfully) equipped and armed with citizens’ monies, would turn round and use those arms to oppress the citizens. And the worst insult to the citizens would be if the perpetrators are successfully sued in court; then citizens’ monies would be used to pay the damages awarded. We clearly have learned nothing from the Ayawaso West Woguon incidents and we strongly demand that government takes immediate and firm steps to end this despicable anti-democratic backslide.

Yours, for God and Country