There was a bizarre twist in the ongoing prosecution of Ghanaian journalist, Noah Narh Dameh, on Monday, July 3 when the Magistrate court before which he has been facing trial since March 2023, accused him of impersonating himself.
The presiding judge of the Tema magistrate court, Benedicta Antwi, threatened to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of Dameh after failing to recognize him when the journalist had taken off his face mask. This followed a spurious allegation by the complainant, Bernard Korley, that someone else, and not Noah Dameh, who came to court in a face mask, was fronting for the journalist. For some reason, the court clerks and the police who knew the journalist refused to confirm his identity to the judge.
Dameh, who was surrounded by police officers, was thus left with the burden to prove his identity before the judge. The journalist managed to explain that he had been remanded a few weeks ago by the same judge in the same court and mentioned the names of his lawyers and the chamber.
It had to take confirmation by Inspector Derick Debrah, a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer, who arrived a few hours later to verify Noah’s identity, prompting his accuser, to acknowledge he is the one. Dameh, who is the Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, is scheduled to appear in court again on July 31, 2023.
When contacted by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Noah shared his astonishment at the allegations made by the complainants, judge, and clerks, who asserted that he was not the person he claimed to be.
“I was surprised. I was not even allowed to express myself or produced my identity. What if the investigator who came later also alleged that I was not Noah Dameh?” the journalist wondered.
He had anticipated that the judge would request evidence to confirm his identity. Regrettably, he was denied the opportunity to speak or present his identification.
This incident comes after the journalist had been previously remanded over charges of false publication in March 2023 by the Tema Magistrate Court. The charges stemmed from a defamation complaint by ElectroChem Ghana Limited (EGL), a salt mining company based in Ada. The complaint followed a Facebook publication in which the journalist alleged that the police had abused one Benjamin Anim and implicated EGL’s owner, Daniel Mckorley.
Although the case was dismissed in December 2022, Dameh was re-arrested on false publication charges and was remanded on March 30, 2023. On April 5, 2023, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) petitioned Ghana’s Attorney General to intervene and end the prosecution of the journalist.
The MFWA reiterates its call on the authorities to end the persecution of Noah Dameh for denouncing human rights abuses. We continue to monitor the situation closely, to highlight the need for fairness.