The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has learnt with shock the brutal assault on three journalists from one of Ghana's leading newspapers, The Ghanaian Times, and calls on the police administration to investigate the incident and punish the culprits.
The journalists, Malik Sulemana and Raissa Sambou, both reporters, and Salifu Abdul Rahman, an assistant editor, were brutalised on March 14, 2019, while they were on their way to cover a story.
The Ghanaian Times reported that a police officer riding on an unregistered motor bicycle hit and destroyed the mirror of the journalists' car which was stuck in traffic. The driver of the journalists reportedly chased the hit-and-run police officer and managed to stop him in traffic. The exchanges between the two degenerated and the police officer was further angered when the other journalists, who had arrived at the scene, began to film the incident with their phone. The policeman pounced on the journalists and physically assaulted them.
The policeman is reported to have punched Malik's face, drawing blood oozing from his nostril and elbowed Raissa, who is also a nursing mother, leaving her unconscious.
The policeman was later joined by other police officers to assault the journalists. Malik Sulemana was handcuffed and taken in a police vehicle to the Ministries Police Station in Accra where he was detained as a suspect.
"They ignored my plea to them to send me to the hospital for medical attention. While lying almost motionless in the police cell, they brought me on the staircase to an office on the second floor. They dragged me back into the cell and urged the inmates to beat me up when I insisted to write my statement only in the presence of my lawyer," Malik Sulemana narrated to Ghanaian Times newspaper.
Sulemana has been treated and discharged from the hospital while Raissa Sambou, who was rushed to the hospital after being knocked unconscious, is said to be responding to treatment.
Meanwhile, the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, ACP David Eklu, has confirmed to MFWA that the officers involved in the incident have been identified and their statements taken. He indicated that the Divisional Commander of the Ministries Police Station has been asked to submit a report to the Police Headquarters by close of day (March 15), adding that the Police administration takes a serious view of the incident and will ensure that justice is done.
This incident comes nearly a year after a similarly brutal police assault on Joy news reporter Latif Iddris at the premises of the police headquarters. This incident which occurred on March 27, 2018, has since not been redressed despite several assurances by the police authorities.
The MFWA takes the police administration by their word and urges them to demonstrate their abhorrence of the unprofessional behaviour of the officers involved by bringing them to book. We also call on the management of the Ghanaian Times to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion.