The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has petitioned the Minister of defense over the brutal assault and torture of investigative journalist Michael Aidoo by two soldiers, demanding justice for the victim.
The petition requested the Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to order investigations into the assault against the journalist who is an Investigative Journalism Fellow of the MFWA.
The MFWA, in recognition of the importance of accountability and investigative journalism to the promotion of national development, has initiated a fellowship programme known as the Next Generation Investigative Journalism Fellowship with the aim of grooming young journalism graduates in investigative journalism.
The training of the Investigative Journalism Fellows is under the auspices of The Fourth Estate, an accountability journalism portal project of the MFWA.
As part of their training, the Fellows were commissioned to investigate some ongoing and abandoned projects in the education and health sectors across the country.
Michael Aidoo was assigned to the Ashanti Region to investigate five of such projects including the Military Hospital project at Afari in the Atwima-Nwabiagya District.
Assault and torture
In the early morning of March 11, 2022, Aidoo went to Afari Military Hospital project site to carry out his investigations. He met a soldier whom he could simply identify as Opoku at the gate of the premises and asked for directions to a supposed destination. He managed to find a spot from where he filmed the hospital facility.
Opoku however got suspicious when he found Aidoo taking pictures of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) local office some minutes later, and accosted him. The soldier asked the journalist to hand over his phone and provide his password. When he refused the military officer assaulted him.
According to the journalist, Opoku slapped him five times in succession with both his broad palm and hard fist.
After he yielded and the soldier deleted the videos and pictures he had taken at the hospital project site, the journalist Aidoo introduced himself, upon robust interrogation, that he was an investigative journalist. Opoku, this time aided by Okyere/Otchere subjected him to further beating and ordered him to do 30 “push-ups.” At a point, they put a 15-inch cement block on his waist in the course of the “push-ups”.
“We consider the assault and torture to which the soldiers subjected Michael as unjustified and clear violation of his human dignity as guaranteed under Article 15(1) of the 1992 Constitution, which stipulates that ‘The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable,” the MFWA said in its petition to the Minister.
“We demand that such impunity must not be allowed to fester, particularly in an institution known for its discipline,” the MFWA added in the petition signed by its Executive Director, Sulemana Braimah.
Demands of petition
The MFWA called on the Defence Minister to commission an investigation into the assault and torture of Michael Aidoo by the said soldiers.
It also demanded that “the soldiers (Opoku and Okyere/Otchere) must be severely sanctioned if found culpable, to serve as deterrent to others”.
The MFWA asked the Military High Command to compensate Michael Aidoo for the bodily harm and emotional trauma he suffered as a result of the assault and torture meted out to him by the soldiers.