Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) in the western region has strongly condemned the manhandling of the regional cameraman for METRO TV, Aihaji Mustapha Ashley by the body guard of the Member of Parliament for the Evalue-Gwira-Jomoro Constituency Catherine Afeku, who is also the Minister of state at the presidency. The alleged incidence happened at the premises of the Axim court House.
“Preliminary investigations conducted by the regional GJA revealed that before the commencement of the court proceedings, the METRO TV Camera man, Alhaji Mustapha Ashley was taking video footage outside the court premises to support his story since recordings or pictures/videos inside the court room is not allowed,” a statement by the Association has said.
A statement issued and signed by the Association’s Western region secretary, Zambaga Rufai Saminu, recounted events leading to the Assault and subsequent deletion of video footage of Mr Ashely, the camera man, was among other journalists covering a court case involving Seth Afeku the Husband of the Evalue-Joromo-Gwira MP and one Angate Borzor, who was arrested on the order of Mr Afeku.
According to the statement, Mr Ashely only began shooting outside the court after explicit approval from the court’s registry. It continued that without any provocation, the said body guard identified as Appiah, who arrived in the company of the MP and Minister and her Husband as well as the Municipal Chief Executive, Frank Okpenyan, “upon seeing the camera man with his camera, rushed, interrupted and ordered him to hand over the video camera to him”. The journalist refused to handover his official camera to the body guard, resulted in a fierce confrontation and heckling. This attracted the intervention of a police man present at the court premises.
Another senior officer who arrived at the scene asked the journalist to hand over the camera to the junior police officer, which he did.
“After the camera was handed back to the journalist after the court proceedings all visuals on the camera were deleted under the supervision of the officers of the Ghana police Service and no explanation was offered as to why they tampered with the METRO TV camera”.
“More disturbing is the fact that after recent adoption of a frame work or police supervised the seizure and deletion of a reporter’s professional work, stressing the action could not be anything less than an attack on press freedom .
The Ghana Journalist Association called on the Regional Commander to investigate the said senior officer on why he ordered the reporter to hand over the camera to the junior officer, and the identity of the said body guard should be established, arrested and made to face the law for Abuse of Power, and ensure that such perpetrators of violations against journalists are punished.
The Association further encouraged journalists to remain steadfast and not to be cowed by the incident but go about their duties respectfully.
By Jerrina Dzifa Fiagbedzi.