By Agnes Ansah
The Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) is calling for an independent body to probe into the assault and arrest of the two Modern Ghana journalists.
According the President, Mr Roland Affail-Monney, the association doesn’t doubt the competency and genuineness of the security service, but believes it would be better if an independent body is made to investigate the issue, than the body that perpetrated the act.
It would be recalled that Mr Emmanuel Ajafor Azunungu and Deputy Editor Emmanuel Britwum of Modern Ghana, an online news portal, were arrested on Thursday 27th June at their office by some National Security personnel.
In a press conference held yesterday in Accra to a react to developments on the arrest and detention of the journalists, Mr Affail-Monney said that the GJA would seek justice for its members in a manner that is appropriate and deserving.
He indicated that the attacks have become too much and little is being done to stop it, hence, the need for an independent body to probe into the issue.
He said that some may think the GJA has been slow in convening a presser regarding the issue, and skittish in hitting the National Security, but it was because the association doesn’t want to peddle out information that may be untrue and go against the very ethics that they adhere to.
He quoted articles 4 and 5 of the GJA Code of Ethics, which states that “a Journalist makes adequate enquiries and cross-checks his or her facts,” while the latter indicates that “a Journalist makes or verifies his/her source.”
But Mr Affail-Monney said that the association was extra cautious and highly meticulous in gathering further information on the issue, since the issue borders on human right violations.
He said the association has also been in talks with both the international and local media organisations for journalists to deliberate on the issue, and come out with the best ways to address it.
He advised journalists to be sensitive and cautious of their security in order not to fall prey to these assaults and victimisations.
He was, however, quick to state the National Security Minister, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, has been cooperative and supportive on the issue.
He said that when the news of the arrest reached his noble office, he personally made contacts with Mr Kan Dapaah, who made time to explain the circumstances under which the two journalists were arrested.
Lawyer for the two jounalists, Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini, who also spoke on the issue, narrated the incidences that had led to the arrest and developments so far. According to him, the developments so far indicate that the journalists have not faulted in any way, hence, justice should be served.
He said he wanted to ensure that they were not a group of journalists who had an agenda to do some harm or on a bad image storytelling, so he subjected the journalist to a series of investigations and questioning, and has no doubt
Below is a transcription of the events before, during, and after the arrest of the journalists, as narrated by Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini.
“The journalists were picked up on Thursday by the National Security. But a day before the arrest, the National Security had actually called to inform them of a publication that was in bad taste. The journalists indicated that it was an article written by someone, and they only published it on their portal.The National Security asked them to pull it down, and they obliged. The next day the officers went to their offices, picked them up, and took any gadgets they found at the place, including laptops, phones, used black polythene bags to cover their faces, pushed them into their vehicles, and drove them to a location where they would not be able to locate exactly where they were. It was in National Security custody that they were interrogated, and according to the report, both journalists were assaulted, but Ajafor received the most attacks.
The law mandates security personnel to seize the gadgets of a person under arrest, but it doesn’t mandate them to view the fellow’s information, except by a court order, but due to the assault, they gave in and gave them the password to access the laptops. It was discovered that a Peace FM email was on the laptop, and they were questioned why they had Peace FM portal when they don’t work with them. One of the journalists said he was employed by an Editor of Peace FM and was given access to access the portal, and so there is nothing secretive about it. He said that though he had moved from Peace to Modern Ghana, the permission to access the portal has not been taken away from him, so there is nothing secretive about it. The Peace FM Editor was contacted and he admitted that the journalist has worked for him before. The journalists were arrested because of a second publication which was in bad taste, and not because they had gained access to a Peace FM news portal.”