Minister, ruling party must help Police identify and punish journalist’s assailants

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the January 4, 2024 assault on journalist David Kobbena by alleged supporters of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, and urges the police to ensure the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

Kobbena, known on radio as Ohene Kwame David, is a senior presenter on Cape FM located in Cape Coast, the capital of Ghana’s Central Region. He had gone to the Central Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to cover the vetting of some aspiring members of Parliament for the ruling New Patriotic Party in the region when he was assaulted.

The journalist told the MFWA that he was sitting under a summer hut at the RCC premises when two ladies called and asked him if he was one Jacob. According to the ladies, the said Jacob was wanted for insulting Hawa Koomson during a panel discussion on Accra-based UTV. David said about half hour after the ladies had left following his explanation that he had never been on any UTV panel, a gentleman also appeared and levelled the same accusation against him. The political thug pulled out a picture of the wanted UTV panelist and insisted it was David’s.

“As I was explaining that it was a case of mistaken identity, even showing him my press card, one person arrived and slapped me from the back. Before I could turn, another slap. About fifteen thugs pounced on me and started beating me, saying I am the one who insulted Hawa Koomson on UTV,” the journalist told the MFWA.

David Kobbena was rescued by his fellow journalists present. According to the victim, Hawa Koomson herself also came around after hearing of the assault and left without saying a word, after she was briefed by her boys.

The victim has since reported the matter to the NPP executives who were conducting the vetting. He has also reported the matter to the Kotokoraba Police Station which issued him a medical form to seek treatment at a hospital.

The assaulted journalist is still waiting for the NPP’s executives at the vetting to take up the matter as promised, while the Police say they are investigating the incident after taking the journalist’s statement.

The MFWA is deeply concerned about this umpteenth assault on journalists by political thugs and demands immediate action from all concerned. We urge the NPP as a political party to demand answers from Hawa Koomson and to compel the Minister to identify the perpetrators for disciplinary action. The assailants of the journalist, having explicitly declared their action to be in retaliation of alleged insults against her, and having denied sanctioning the assault, the Minister owes it to herself to help the police find the thugs whose action seeks to bring her into disrepute. Finally, we express our heartfelt sympathy for Kobbena and urge the police to do everything possible to apprehend and bring the hooligans to action.

Given the violence that was unleashed before and during the 2020 elections, including attacks on journalists, it is important for all stakeholders in the political arena to commit to tolerant, civil and violent-free conduct. To this end, all political parties and politicians must act lawfully and demonstrate abhorrence for lawless conduct by their supporters by punishing and publicly disowning them.

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