Media under siege ●Past & present efforts journalists have benefitted the broader society

Often it takes the sacrifice of an individual for the larger society to come to a self-realization about their own fate and situation. And the moment the affected party/parities decide to shed off the lethargic and docile attitudes, none could stand inon their way.

Racism has been a perennial bug, reducing many minority groups globally, into the abyss of sub-humans for hundreds of years. until The gruesome murder of a certain George Floyd on 25th May 2020, served as the catalyst to force a global movement to fight such injustice. This happened in the United States of America.

On December 17th, 2010, one Mohamed Bouazizi immolated himself in protest of police brutalities, corruption, and ill-treatments in his home country, Tunisia. His suicide mission brought the Arab spring, which was a culmination of mass protests against the Tunisian government at the time.

Soon there were cross-border effects of mass civil disorder triggered by Bouazizi’s action in the Mahgreb region. which effects, crossed over to other Gulf countries in the Middle East. It took the bravery of Prof Albert Adu Boahene to dare the culture of silence in the dreadful days of Jerry John Rawlings’ PNDC military junta.

Before then, some other pioneers of a free press, Tommy Thompson and John Kugblenu, had to pay a huge price for breaching Rawlings’ silence order. The two gentlemen were incarcerated for years by the PNDC but came back fighting for the same cause, even on their dying beds.

Mr. Thompson, who was the publisher of the Free Press newspaper died at a time, together with his editor, Eben Quarcoo, and Nana Kofi Coomson, the editor of the Ghanaian Chronicle, was being tried on charges of criminal libel.

Today, young Caleb Kudah is on the threshold of becoming the rallying consciousness of a bleeding country. Caleb is a budding journalist with Citi FM, one of the leading private radio stations in the country.

The young man was busted like a hardened criminal by operatives of the National Security for allegedly, breaching a security installation to take video and pictures in his line of duty. He recounts how he was molested and tortured by the security personnel and how he even had to lie about his tribe of origin in order to minimize his ordeal at the hands of the state terrorists.

“They seized my phone and pushed me, and I sat on a chair. They (Security Operatives) slapped me from the back. I was trying to appeal to them; that they had beaten me enough; but they were just slapping me from the back”, Caleb narrated parts of his ordeal.

A colleague of the young journalist—Zoe Abu-Baidoo, who did the story together with Caleb, had to run for her dear life.
Other brutalities of media personnel
Caleb’s ordeal mirrors a calculated attempt by the state coercive powers, spearheaded by the National Security to cow the media into submission just like they’ve succeeded with some otherwise, vibrant media houses that in the past, helped to fight many injustices in the country.

In June 2019, same Rambo-styled arrest was effected at the offices of Modernghana.com, an online portal where the editor of the site, Emmanuel Ajarfor Abugri and his reporter, Emmanuel Britwum were taken and detained for 48 hours by National Security operatives.

Within the period, the two narrated a chilling tale of the ordeal they went through. The Today newspaper’s findings suggest the two laptops, two mobile phones and the tablet seized by the National Security, have still not been released by their captors.

Investigative journalist, Manasseh Azuri Awuni had his share of the security terror for doing a documentary that put the government in bad light. He had to make a quick sojourn to the Republic of South Africa to escape the marauding anger of the security group that was captured in his documentary.

There are many other infractions that media personnel go through at the hands of security persons in their line of duty, but go unnoticed or not made public because they are either new on the job, or their media organizations do not measure up to those within the commanding height of Ghanaian media.

With the sudden uproar to the unlawful capture of Caleb, it does seem most Ghanaians can no longer suppress their anger towards the growing level of impunity of the country’s security apparatus and other acts that are subjugating a section of the population into bondage.

Trusts adherents of the administration and their propagandist spin-doctors to conjecture and muster all manner of reasons to justify the action of the security personnel. But to the open-minded individuals, “what happened to due process?”

No one is claiming Caleb and the others are above Ghanaian laws, much as none can also take away their rights to due process of the law; and this has been the position of Caleb’s employees and many right-thinking Ghanaians.

There is a suspected murderer of a sitting MP who has been on trial for close to five years and still counting. The case is dragging because the suspected murderer is being taking through the due process of the law.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Interior has failed to state the exact violation of Caleb, absolutely none, whatsoever. To many such vulnerable journalists, Caleb’s pain is their pain; his cry is their crown and it’s about time Caleb’s ordeal served as a catalyst to press home, not only with press freedom but also to fight other forms of all manner of injustices in the country.

Institutionalization of thuggery
The phenomenon of ballot snatching is now institutionalized as an accepted convention or norm in the country’s body-politic. Now the politicians- who sponsor the practice, are themselves beginning to be active practitioners.

The barbaric ballot-snatching act was staged at the prestigious Ghanaian Parliament, where an NPP Member of Parliament for Tema East, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah re-enacted what it’s believed, they’ve thought their polling agents. Ironically, he was applauded by his party for dying for the cause of the NPP.

There were similar acts at polling stations during the 2020 elections in various parts of the country, with a polling agent in the Techiman South constituency killed by civilian thugs in military cloths.

Many believe there is still a pending issue with the thuggery that went on at the Ayawaso West Wougon bye-election, despite the Government’s White Paper report that exonerated those indicted by the Commission set up to investigate the obviously instigated violence.

High-profiled killings/murders
The obvious lack of political will on the part of the government to deal decisively with recommendations of the Emile Short Commission, easily emboldened others with a similar mindset to go on a killing/murdering spree.

Ekow Quansah was just some days short of ending his first four-year tenure in the Ghanaian legislature, but never lived to see how his last days in the Ghanaian Parliament would be. The then Mfantsiman MP was murdered in cold blood while campaigning for possible re-election.
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It’s been more than a year since Ahmed Suale, a former Journalist with the Tiger-Eye Investigations, was gunned down by some unknown assailants. Josephine Asante, the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority was killed at her Tema residence more than two years ago.

A Professor of Law, Emmanuel Yaw Benneh was also killed in his home with hands and legs tied. All these cases are hanging with the perpetrators out there on the streets enjoying whatever booty they earned from their murderous acts. Even kids are killing their fellows for ritual purposes.

All of such, are ample demonstration of total anarchy and break-down in law and order; a break-down in security; and a survival drive, where individuals who cannot find the legitimate way out of the economic malaise, resort to a daring instinctive way of surviving, courtesy the opportunity offered by the state.
When civilians carry coup mentality
A landmark element of coup-making that many civilian politicians tend to follow while in power, is the idea that one quick strike should eliminate people who in most cases, are erroneously perceived to be enemies.

This is an inherent canker inflicted on Ghanaians since the country’s first coup of 1966 and has festered throughout Ghanaian politics till date. Most of Nkrumah’s National Enterprises were either privatized or abandoned by the military National Liberation Council (NLC) government that was established after the overthrow of the 1st Republic.

The specter of what many considered a holocaust of indigenous Ghanaian businesses was visited on some of the country’s finest entrepreneurs like Appiah Minka of Apino Soap fame; B.A. Mensah, Joshua Kwabena Siaw, Boakye Mattress, and others during Rawlings’ AFRC and PNDC administrations in the Rawlings’ AFRC and the PNDC.

Almost every business that was created in a particular administration is considered, although wrongly, as a sponsoring appendage of that administration. The administration leaves and the result is the summary collapse of such business.

The vendetta against people regarded as opposition entrepreneurs continues in the current administration. Indigenous businessmen have been at the receiving end under the pretext of reforms, especially, within the country’s financial sector.

It has however become clear that the so-called reforms were nothing short of a discriminatory agenda against perceived opposition business people. And this was established by the former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, in his last epistle to the Ghanaian people before he left office.

Mr. Amidu revealed how some financial institutions, belonging to members of the administration, have suddenly bounced back by virtue of being used to transact businesses on behalf of the State.

 
STORY: RICHMOND KEELSON

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