The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) welcomes the conviction of the assailants of radio presenter Sadiq Gariba of Radio Dagbon based in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana and commends the police for the swift prosecution.
Hardi Pagazaa, a former regional communications officer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party and his accomplice, Mumuni Osman, were on May 10, 2023, convicted and sentenced to a fine of GH₵3,600.00 (300 USD) each or in default serve a custodial sentence of 18 months imprisonment in hard labour.
The two accused persons pleaded guilty to all three counts of charges namely conspiracy to commit crime, assault and unlawful entry. They were therefore convicted on their own plea.
The charges relate to the storming of the studios of Dagbon FM by Pagzaa on May 2023 (coincidentally when the world was marking World Press Freedom Day) to assault Sadiq Gariba, the host of a political talk show on the said station.
The incident, which was widely circulated in a video saw Pagzaa holding up the journalist as the latter struggled to free himself. The politician’s companion, Osman, was also seen raining threats and insults on the journalist in the incident, disrupting broadcasting on the network for a few minutes.
The Police arrested the two on May 8 after they failed to respond to their invitation to respond to the complaints lodged by Sadiq and his employers. They were put before court on May 10, 2023, and convicted the same day. The convicts paid the fines and avoided serving the prison term.
The Manager of Radio Dagbon, Nasiba Victor, told the MFWA that both the Management of the station and Sadiq have welcomed the verdict.
“It could have been a stiffer penalty, but we are satisfied. Both Management and Sadiq are satisfied that the aggressors have not gone scot-free,” Miss Victor said in a telephone chat.
The MFWA joins Radio Dagbon and the Ghanaian media fraternity to hail the conviction of the two. Although considered a token, the conviction is a welcome warning to would-be press freedom violators that their actions will be penalised. We commend the police for the swift prosecution and urge them to sustain the spirit of zero tolerance for attacks on journalists doing their work. We also urge media organisations to strengthen security on their premises to keep out intruders.