The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the manhandling of a reporter of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Della Russell Ocloo, by members of the Glorious Wave International Church at Sakumono, a suburb in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
Ocloo went to the church on August 4, 2019 to cover a march dubbed “1000 Women’s March” embarked on by women’s groups to protest against Prophet Badu Kobi, head pastor of the church, for disparaging comments he had made about women of certain ethnic groups in Ghana.
Obviously uncomfortable with the prospect of the shaming of their leader being publicised by the journalists, the members of the church accosted her amidst threats to beat her if she did not stop recording the scene. The church leadership later called the police who came and took the journalist away.
Police later explained that their action was to protect Ocloo from imminent assault. The reporter however contradicts them by saying that the police were aggressive towards her and even tried to seize her phone and hand bag. She added that the police attempted to force her to write a statement, although she insisted on having her lawyer or her husband present before doing so.
“The GCGL condemns the treatment of its reporter who was performing her legitimate duty and calls on the police to investigate the matter and sanction those who are found to have acted unprofessionally in the matter,” Ocloo’s media house said in a statement issued in Accra.
The attack on Ocloo is the second at a church premises in less than two months. On June 23, 2019, David Ankomah, a cameraman of Accra-based Joy News was assaulted by soldiers who briefly seized his camera while covering a protest at Zoe Outreach Embassy Church at East Legon, Accra. The soldiers were called by the Head Pastor, Kelvin Kossi Kobiri, to restrain the protesters, disappointed clients of his faltering investment firms.
The MFWA is concerned about these attacks and calls on all institutions to take measures to protect journalists covering events at their premises. We condemn the molestation of Russel Ocloo and urge the police to investigate the incident.