Lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Zakaria Tanko Musah has stressed the need for the country to be conscious of the amorphous use of national security to suppress the rights and freedom of people, especially journalists.
National Security has been in news for the past few days over the arrest and assault of Citi FM/TV journalist Caleb Kudah for filming MASLOC vehicles parked at the premises of the National Security Ministry.
Another journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo, was subsequently picked at the premises of Citi FM/Citi TV by National Security operatives for receiving some files captured by Mr. Kudah.
The actions of the operatives of National Security have been widely criticized.
Mr. Zakaria Tanko who was speaking at a virtual public forum organized by the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), under the auspices of the Directorate of Research, Innovation, and Development (DRID), indicated that “this is a serious issue as people hide behind national security to suppress the rights and freedom of journalists and vulnerable people in our society”.
“It’s high time as a democratic society, we appreciate the work of journalists. There must be an understanding between journalists and security agencies and not the other way around,” Mr. Tanko said.
When asked about the vagueness of national security vis-à-vis the “public interest” mantra of journalists, Mr. Tanko said, “there are other parameters that are used, like the judiciary.”
“We have failed as a country to implement judicial interpretations regarding public interest and what constitutes national security,” Mr. Zankaria Tanko added.
He further stated that “personal charges must be brought against individuals who abuse their power of discretion” in the discharge of their duty.
The private legal practitioner questioned the legitimacy and objective of the arrest of Caleb Kudah and the use of force by the national security operatives.
“Nobody beats the executive or legislative members when they do something wrong. They’re taken through the judicial system. Journalists must not be treated differently,” Mr. Zakaria Tanko asserted.
The forum was on the topics; “#Fixthecountry Campaign: Online Protest Movement and “The Caleb Kudah and Zoe Abu-Baidoo” Saga: A Critical Assessment of Press Freedom under the Akufo-Addo regime.”
Participants received insightful contributions from a plethora of panellists from both academia and practitioners.