The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is appalled at the totally unprovoked attack by unknown persons on Mr. Augustine Ahiabor, a journalist with Accra-based Angel FM, while on the beat in Ashaiman, a suburb of Accra, on May 25, 2023.
We join condemn the assault and call on the Ghana Police to expedite the investigations into the case.
The journalist had gone to Ashiaman Lebanon Zone 2, where a public toilet had caved in and trapped at least one man who was using the facility at the time. As he was filming the incident some residents of the sprawling suburb pounced on him and beat him up. His assailants had simply taken offense at him doing his work as a reporter.
Ahiabor told MFWA on phone that he, together with another journalist with Atinka FM, another radio station in Accra, had gone to the scene of the accident to report.
“When we got there, the man who had been trapped in the collapsed toilet had been rescued and was being given a bath. I took out my phone to record the collapsed toilet for a story,” he said.
Just then, he said, the first assailant, an elderly man, approached him and demanded he stop filming.
“After I stopped he ordered that I delete whatever footages and pictures that I had taken of the collapsed toilet. I tried explaining to him that I was a journalist, taking out my ID card so that he could inspect. Just then, a younger man whom I would later learn is the elderly man’s son, joined him and insisted that I delete whatever images I had taken with my camera. The young man also accused me of trying to take photos and footage for money,” he added.
The journalist explained that he presented his ID card to the young man too, “but he dismissed it saying ‘journalist my foot.”’ The resultant melee attracted others who thronged around the two journalists and started beating him.
“I was hit in the back a couple of times and also in the belly area. Later my colleague from Atinka FM told me that one of the attackers had intended to hit my head with a hammer, however, he had managed to restrain him. In the commotion, somebody took my phone,” the journalist said.
The journalist says that later he got his phone back from the Assemblyman for the area who had somehow managed to seize it from the assailants. Even so, the son of the first assailant had insisted that he was an IT technician and that he could not trust the journalist to delete the footages or pictures he had taken with his phone’s camera and therefore they had to go to his house so he could format the phone.
“It was when we got to his house that we realized that the phone was spoilt,” the journalist said.
He confirmed that he has since reported the incident to the Police, who issued him with a medical form.
“I have attended the hospital and given the form back to the Police. The Police have since also arrested the elderly man and his son and given them bail; the other attackers however are on the run,” Mr. Ahiabor said.
The MFWA condemns this gratuitous assault on a journalist on duty, and reiterates our call on the Police to expedite action on the prosecution process. It is very important that such crude attacks on journalists are punished to deter future attacks on journalists.