On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, operatives of National Security arrested and assaulted Citi FM‘s Caleb Kudah, after they found him filming abandoned state-funded vehicles near their office.
The operatives subsequently besieged the premises of Citi FM to arrest another journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo because Caleb had sent the files to her via WhatsApp.
Both reporters were forced by the operatives to delete all multimedia materials on their phones.
The two are yet to be charged after their release on that same day.
Following this development and the vivid accounts given by the two journalists on The Point of View on Wednesday, several individuals and credible organizations have condemned the National Security’s handling of the situation, and called for a thorough probe, and also a restructuring of the national security outfit.
The National Security Secretariat in a statement on the development said it is investigating the matter.
Pressure group, OccupyGhana, in a statement last Friday expressed doubt that the national security will conduct any proper investigations into the matter. It said the only means to have a holistic probe into the circumstances surrounding the assault is for the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry into the unfortunate incident.
“We have no faith that the National Security Ministry can provide a satisfactory investigation into the damning allegations, and therefore would like to advise the government to set up an independent body of inquiry into the matter,” OccupyGhana said.
Social action group, OneGhana Movement, also backed OccupyGhana’s position for an independent probe into the matter.
The movement however expressed its discomfort with the arrests carried out by the national security operatives, stressing that it amounts to usurpation of the powers of the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service.
“It is also worrying to note that the National Security is almost operating a police service. The National Security Ministry is not a police service, it is an intelligence agency and should operate as such. Article 200(2) provides that no person or authority shall raise any police service except by or under the authority of an act of Parliament.”
“The modus operandi of the National Security, as it is now, amounts to usurpation of the powers of the IGP and a breach of the constitution of Ghana. Indeed, similar findings were made against the National Security in the Ayawaso West Commission Report where the Commission recommended among others that the SWAT team should be disbanded,” it said.
While also calling for a thorough investigation into the arrest and assault, CDD Ghana said the development makes it more urgent to implement the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry which made a case for dissolution of the SWAT team of the National Security Council Secretariat.
Centre for Social Democracy
The Centre for Social Democracy, which also condemned the actions of the national security, stressed that the journalists did not err in videoing the abandoned state-funded vehicles.
A fellow at the Centre, Williams Ampomah, questioned the procedure employed by the security officers, further indicating that their action was an attempt to put fear in Ghanaians to stop them from further criticizing the government.
Human Rights and Governance Centre (HRGC)
The Human Rights and Governance Centre described the development as regretful, and urged the government to disband the SWAT team at the National Security to address the challenge.
The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), described the manhandling of Caleb Kudah as a slap on media freedom.
It further said steps should be taken to ensure that the officers cited for the abuse are arrested and dealt with to serve as a deterrent to others who take the law into their own hands.
“We entreat the police to adopt more civil means of dealing with the media when they fall short of the law. We don’t want this whole negative publicity and all these things go a long way to affect our media freedom rankings and also our human rights indices as well.”
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), which has for a very long time been tracking attacks on journalists and the media, advised the management of Citi FM/Citi TV and journalist, Caleb Kudah, to take legal action against the National Security operatives who assaulted him.
“I only hope that as our friend Caleb has narrated, if he was indeed assaulted, this is a matter that we should talk about. We should report to the police and pursue legal action. I don’t think that anybody who is a National Security person is immune to our Justice system and so I think it is something that we have to do,” MFWA Executive Director, Sulemana Braimah said in an interview on Eyewitness News.
Reporters Without Borders
An international non-profit and non-governmental organisation, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), has pledged to ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out into the allegations of assault against Caleb Kudah and the action of the national security operatives.
““The Ministry of National Security said it has initiated a probe into alleged brutality against Caleb Kudah and [arrest of] Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo. RSF will make sure that the investigation on this serious case is carried out effectively,” it said in a tweet last week.
GIBA, PRINPAG, GJA
The three media-focused organizations in a joint statement on Sunday bemoaned the increasing cases of attack on journalists, and called for a total restructuring of the National Security Secretariat which has been at the centre of most of the attacks.
They also called on the National Security Secretariat to render an apology to the management of Citi FM and Citi TV over the arrest and assault of its journalist, Caleb Kudah, and the subsequent invasion of the premises of the media house on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.
“We are of the view that, the time has come for the government to restructure the Ministry of National Security, re-orient the minds of these operatives, and to institute professional recruitment policies to ensure that the Ministry recruits the right calibre of professionals who will be entrusted with the intelligence mandate of the Ministry,” the joint statement said.
”It is the view of the leadership of the three media groups that, the handlers of Ghana’s national security institute measures to weed out of the security agencies, undesired elements with barbaric and brutish tendencies, whose conduct always creates needless tension between poor civilians and the operatives of Ghana’s national security,” they added.
Ghana’s largest opposition party the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also in a statement signed by General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketiah rebuked the Akufo-Addo government over recent incidents of attacks by national security operatives in the country.
The party said such developments erodes the country’s democratic gains.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this degradation of our democracy by the Akufo-Addo government. We condemn the continuous abuse of our rights protected by the Constitution by the marauding and wayward administration of President Akufo-Addo,” the statement said.
The NDC said it will continue to challenge such developments while urging President Akufo-Addo to respect the rights and welfare of citizens.
“We shall not sit unconcerned as the President lurches from one scandal to the other. Ghana and Ghanaians deserve far better,” it concluded.
The Movement for Responsible and Accountable Governance (MoRAG), has backed calls for an independent investigation into the assault on Citi FM’s Caleb Kudah by National Security operatives.
“First of all, MoRAG condemns these acts of the security officials in its strongest term. We believe the Ministry, under the instruction of ASP Samuel Azugu and Lieutenant Colonel Agyemang could have handled the matter more professionally.”
“The alleged brutality by the National Security personnel against Caleb Kudah was inhumane, uncharacteristic of modern-day policing,” MoRAG said in a statement.
The Progressive People’s Party (PPP), has also backed calls for an independent investigation into the assault on Citi FM’s Caleb Kudah by National Security operatives.
The PPP in a statement said it expects that the investigation will bring the operatives to book once they are found culpable.
The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), says it has taken a keen interest in the physical assault on Citi FM and Citi TV Journalist, Caleb Kudah, and the invasion of the station’s premises by National Security operatives.
It makes the remarks after it received a copy of Citi FM’s petition over the abuse of the journalist and invasion of the company’s premises.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has been formally notified of the assault on Caleb Kudah by National Security operatives and the invasion of the premises of CITI FM and Citi TV.
The conference after receiving a petition from Citi FM on the development expressed its symmpathies and thanked the company for recognizing its importance on such a matter.
The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in a statement to express concern over the attack on the journalist and other media persons said such an assault is in contravention of the constitution, and an affront to media practice in the country.
“We are particularly appalled by the alleged assaults and molestation of Citi FM reporters, Caleb Kudah and Zoe Abu Baidoo Addo in Accra, as well as Peter Tabiri, Western North Correspondent for Pent TV, who was also allegedly assaulted at Asankragua by some operatives of National Security”, it said.
According to the Commission, it is dreadful for security operatives to heavily descend on reporters in this manner.
Meanwhile, the management of Citi FM and Citi TV has petitioned the National Media Commission over the matter.