The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the brazen assault on Sadiq Gariba, a radio presenter with Radio Dagbon based in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana, and urges the police to ensure that the perpetrator is prosecuted.
Gariba was live on air when Hardi Pagzaa, a former Regional Communications Officer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), on May 3, 2023, burst into the studio to assault him. Accompanied by one person, the politician collared Gariba and held him up, amidst insults and intimidations.
In a widely circulated video of the incident, Pagzaa is seen holding the journalist as the latter struggled to free himself. The assailant and his companion left after some three minutes.
Explaining the circumstances of the attack to the national media, Gariba said he had called out Pagzaa over certain disparaging comments the politician had made about him on another radio station.
In what is a sad irony the incident happened on the day the Ghanaian media had joined the global media fraternity to mark World Press Freedom Day.
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has condemned the assault and urged the police to take swift action.
“The Ministry condemns the act and urges the Ghana Police Service and relevant agencies to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.
“Attacks on journalists should not be countenanced. Severe and speedy response from law enforcement agencies is necessary to prevent copy-cat acts and maintain Ghana’s status in upholding press freedom,” the minister said in a statement on May 4, 2023.
Meanwhile, the Management of Radio Dagbon has reported the incident to the police. The manager of the station, Nasiba Victor confirmed this in a telephone conversation with the MFWA. Corporal Atsu Adanu of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of Tamale Station Police, also confirmed having invited Pagzaa to help in investigations into the matter.
As a political figure who has been involved in communication, Pagzaa must be aware of the critical role of the media in promoting party activities. The MFWA, therefore, finds it shameful and distasteful for him to storm a radio station and assault a journalist in such a petulant manner. We commend the management of Dagbon Radio for reporting the matter to the police.
The incident is the third time in 16 months that disgruntled persons have stormed radio stations to cause mayhem in Ghana. On January 13, 2022, a group of thugs stormed the premises of the community radio Radio Ada, assaulted two of its journalists and vandalised equipment. On May 16, 2022, three burly men on motor bicycles burst into the premises of Radio Benya and caused similar havoc.
Ghana dropped two places to 62nd in the latest Reporters Without Borders (RSF) global press freedom ranking. Incidentally, the assault on Gariba occurred on the very day the report on the ranking was released.