The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the assault on, and arrest of Ghanaian journalist, Nichola Morkah, by some soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces in Akim Oda and demands swift retribution.
We also demand that any trumped-up charges against the broadcaster by the Police are dropped while the victim of the brutality is properly restituted for the harm and material loss that he suffered.
Morkah, the morning show host of Akyemansa FM based in Akim Oda, a town in the Eastern Region of Ghana, was set upon by five heavily armed soldiers and beaten up for recording a rampage in the town. The soldiers who are said to be from the Achiase Jungle warfare School of the Ghana Armed Forces, would subsequently arrest him and force him to delete some video footages from his two phones before handing him over to the Police.
The incident occurred on October 19, 2023 when the military and Customs were carrying out a joint operation in Akim Oda, to impound vehicles brought into Ghana without proper documentation. The operation had apparently degenerated into a rampage when Morkah, who was on a motorbike, rode into a scene at the Akim Oda Post Office area in which some of the soldiers were attacking a young man. Being a journalist, he instinctively took out his phone and started filming the attack. This was a crime, according to the soldiers.
“When one of them saw me filming them they rushed towards me and I told them I was a journalist but they went ahead to hit me severally and dragged me into their car with the other gentleman and drove downwards. They stopped and asked the gentleman to get down,” the journalist narrated.
According to the victim, his assailants drove him to a military barracks to meet their Commanding Officer and the Customs Excise and Preventive Service Officers who had come for an operation.
At the barracks, his phones were seized, and all files on them, including several crucial documents for some important correspondences were deleted.
“They inspected my other phone and saw some video materials of police officers, they watched it and perceived that I was an undercover journalist with powerful information so they sent me to the Divisional Police Command for further investigation and interrogations. Military Officer Kwadoe and Mohammed in the company of the other two officers took me to Akim Oda Police Headquarters,” he narrated.
Mr. Morkah names officers Kwadoe and Mohammed as being among his assailants.
The Police would subsequently grant him bail in the sum of Ghc5,000. The traumatized journalist has since received treatment.
“Security officers should not carry out in public any operation that they do not want to be filmed, and they should not attack citizens, let alone journalists, for filming a public operation for which no lawful notice of prohibition on filming has been served. Wanton attacks by security officers on journalists doing their work is becoming rampant and the military authorities must issue a clear directive on the filming of public operations. It must not be left to the temper of soldiers,” said Muheeb Saeed, Manager of the MFWA’s Freedom of Expression Programme.
The MFWA demands that the police investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to book. It is our expectation that the journalist will be compensated for the bodily harm he suffered, while whatever damage was done to his phones are rectified.