The Western Regional Branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (Western-GJA) is calling for the immediate arrest of the bodyguard of the Member of Parliament for Evalue-Jomoro Gwira Constituency and Minister of State at the Presidency Mrs. Cathrine Afeku for assaulting the Metro TV Cameraman and deleting of video footage from the camera.
The Cameraman, Alhaji Mustapha Ashley was among other journalists covering a court case involving Seth Afeku, the husband of the MP and one Angate Borzar who was arrested on the orders of Mr Afeku. After the unfortunate incident, the regional GJA received an official complaint from the Metro TV Cameraman indicating that his camera was seized and video deleted under the supervision of the police without his permission.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the regional GJA revealed that before the commencement of the court proceedings, the Metro TV Cameraman, Alhaji Mustapha Ashley was taking video footage outside the court premises to support his story since recordings or picture/video inside the courtroom is not allowed.
This, was after he had sought permission from the court clerk.
Without any provocation, the said bodyguard identified as (Appiah) who arrived in the company of the MP, Mrs Catherine Afeku and the husband, Seth Afeku, and the Municipal Chief Executive, Frank Okpenyan, upon seeing him (the cameraman) with his camera, the bodyguard rushed, interrupted him and ordered him to hand over Metro TV branded video camera to him.
Metro TV branded video camera to him.
The refusal of Alhaji Mustapha Ashley to hand over his official camera to the bodyguard resulted in a fierce confrontation and heckling, which attracted the intervention of a policeman
Another senior officer who also arrived asked the cameraman to hand over the camera to a junior police officer which he did.
However, surprisingly, the MP and the MCE looked on unconcerned and gracefully walked to take their positions in the courtroom.
It was interesting to note that after the camera was handed back to the Metro TV Cameraman after court proceedings, all visuals on the camera were deleted under the supervision of officers of the Ghana Police Service and offered no explanation as to why they tampered with the Metro TV Camera.
The regional GJA therefore condemned the attack on Alhaji Mustapha Ashley, while on duty, which is affront to press freedom.
In a statement, issued and singed by Zambaga Rufai Samini, Secretary of the Western Regional Branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (Western-GJA), is says “We want to remind the police and the minister of state that we are in a democratic era and therefore the era of tyranny and “political Khakistocracy” belongs to the past
“We are shocked that after recent adaptation of a framework on Police Media Relations and safety of Journalists in the country, Axim Police supervised the seizure and deletion of reporter’s professional work and could not be anything less than an attack on press freedom” the statement said.
According to the statement “the framework, which identified that despite Ghana’s legal guarantees to freedom of expression and its enviable record of having a good press freedom environment, journalists continue to face challenges such as physical attacks and threats in the discharge of their duties”.
“We are reminding the Western Regional Police Command of our decades of good working relationship with them and all security agencies. They should therefore not allow their men to be used by the political class to undermine press freedom or curtail the freedom of public unduly” the statement added.
Again, the statement said “we know that the cameraman, Alhaji Mustapha Ashley with many years of experience followed the court reporting protocols when it comes to court reporting even to the extent of seeking clearance.