Article 162(4) of the Constitution of Ghana defines what the freedom of the press is when it states:
“Editors and publishers of newspapers and other institutions of the mass media shall not be subject to control or interference by Government, nor shall they be penalized or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or the content of their publications.”
And like in every society guided by laws, there are excesses, just as Ghana’s situation is. But more concerning has been conversations that have been centered around the fact that the country is currently governed by a man known, for the greater part of his life, as a human rights lawyer.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s pedigree in this regard is one of the things that preceded his presidency, which started on January 7, 2017, but not everything human rights or constitutionally right have been going on well under his administration.
The latest of a series of such things was an attack on a media house by some thugs.
In this GhanaWeb article, we take a look at a few times that media house and journalists have been attacked by some supposed thugs affiliated to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), vis-à-vis the constitutional provision that appears to be continuously trampled on.
Alleged NPP thugs storm UTV, stop United Showbiz (Saturday, October 7, 2023):
This is the most recent attack on a media installation in the country and it happened during a live episode of the popular Saturday showbiz program on UTV.
As GhanaWeb reported, in what was a shocking turn of events, alleged thugs affiliated with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) stormed the studios on the day, abruptly halting the live broadcast of the program.
Approximately seven minutes into the show, which was being broadcast live on GhanaWeb, voices of agitation could be heard in the background as host MzGee introduced the program.
The evident confusion on the host’s face was followed by an extended break in production before the program was eventually taken off air.
Numerous reports that emerged after the sudden interruption of the production showed that the show was disrupted by a group of men who entered the studios with hostile intentions.
According to these reports, the agitated individuals had entered the studio with the apparent aim of confronting Kwame Asare Obeng, also known as Kwame A Plus, who is a regular panellist on the show.
Subsequent videos shared on social media depicted a chaotic scene within the UTV studio, with several men calling out for A Plus.
“We are waiting for A Plus today… A Plus has to explain to us why he tore our paper from the NPP party. We are here, we are waiting for A Plus. We are protecting our party property,” one of the men is heard shouting in the studio.
Ahead of this messy incident, Kwame A Plus, on September 30, 2023, took to live TV to shred a letter addressed to the management of UTV by the New Patriotic Party, in which they demanded reforms to the United Showbiz program.
The musician and political activist did so after he read a copy of the letter during the September 30 broadcast and strongly criticized its content and the propriety of its issuance.
He referred to the letter as “useless” and argued that such letters continued to tarnish the reputation of the NPP, potentially undermining clear constitutional provisions regarding media independence.
“This letter is revolting because we have received calls from people threatening to shut down UTV United Showbiz,” he emphasized as he tore the copy of the letter.
He added that 90% of UTV’s viewership consisted of NPP supporters, yet they were praised for their contributions to the station.
“NPP members should refrain from such actions and never write such a letter again. This letter is absurd.
“Nobody in this country can dictate what we do on this show, especially when the President of Ghana is a seasoned lawyer who believes in the rule of law. Don’t ever write such things again,” he stressed.
Watch how the alleged NPP thugs invaded the studios of UTV below:
Thug operating on ‘orders’ attacks Captain Smart and crew at Obuasi (Thursday, June 8, 2023):
Captain Smart, the host of Onua Maakye on Onua TV, and his crew were saved by the bell when a man, identified as a member of the Obuasi Municipal Taskforce, prevented them from working.
According to a report by 3news.com, the man made it difficult for the crew to set up and host the Thursday, June 8, 2023, edition of Onua Maakye’s Peoples’ Assembly at Obuasi.
The report added that the man stormed the venue and attempted to disturb the work of the radio team.
The man told the media house that he had done so because he had received instructions to do so.
“The thug physically prevented the technical team from mounting live gadgets claiming he was ordered from above to stop the event,” the report stated.
The Obuasi Central Police Command is currently resolving the matter.
Captain Smart and his crew were in Obuasi on the second day of the People’s Assembly.
MCE’s aide assaults journalists at Jaman Radio in Drobo, disrupting live show (Tuesday, July 11, 2023)
GhanaWeb’s correspondent from the Bono Region reported on July 11 that an aide to the Municipal Chief Executive of the Jaman South Municipality in the region created a scene at the studios of Drobo-based Jaman Radio, attacking some staff at the station.
According to Kwabena Asante, the Morning Show Host of the station, the MCE, Andrews Bediako, entered the studio unannounced with some of his aides to clarify some road issues being discussed on the air.
Kwabena Asante said that during the programme, one of the guys who had accompanied the MCE was disrupting the programme, so he ordered him to be removed from the studio, resulting in a fracas.
“We were having our live programme today when the MCE together with some guys entered the studio to clarify some issues so I obliged him, but in the course of the programme one of the guys was disrupting the programme so I ordered him out.”
He added that the disruptive guy, Adinkra Kusi, in the ensuing melee, engaged in a physical fight with Alhaji Gausu, a journalist at the station, and also injured Godfred Asah, the technician on duty.
The host also confirmed having been hit in an attempt to separate the feuding factions.
“One of the guys was disruptive in the studio so I ordered him out of the studio but he engaged in a fight with one of our colleagues, Alhaji Gausu, which attracted bystanders. The technician of our station was also injured in the ensuing melee,” he added.
20 armed policemen storm Accra FM, arrest Drivetime host over AFCON coverage (Monday, 10 January 2022):
In this instance, some 20 heavily-armed policemen stormed the premises of Accra 100.5 FM at Labone, Accra, in Rambo-style on Monday, January 10, 2022, to arrest the station’s news anchor, Nana Ama Agyarko, for what they described as obstruction of their work and the abuse of a police officer.
Unsuccessful in their attempt to arrest the female newscaster, the station’s Drivetime host, Doctor Kay, was arrested instead by the armed policemen who alleged that he also obstructed them from doing their work.
The brouhaha began when three plain-clothed men, claiming to be police officers, in the company of five others who also claimed to be staff of state broadcaster GBC, walked into Accra100.5FM to demand the station’s permit to broadcast the ongoing AFCON matches.
According to the men, the station had no right to broadcast the games.
This resulted in exchanges between the men and some staff of the station.
News anchor Nana Ama Agyarko, who suspected the plain-clothed men may not be police officers as they claimed – because one of them, who had short dreads, wore an earring and a football jersey over ripped jeans and slippers – requested to see their ID cards.
The untidy gentleman showed an ID but covered the picture part of it as well as his name on the tag.
This infuriated the news anchor, who called the plain-clothed man a “thief” and an “imposter” and asked them to leave the office.
The gentlemen called for reinforcement and some 20 heavily-armed policemen stormed the premises of the Labone-based private radio station to arrest Nana Ama Agyarko who was anchoring the evening news for insulting a police officer.
Unable to get access to the studio, the policemen arrested Docta Kay instead, who had earlier escorted them upstairs and attended to them when they initially came to the station.
They accused him of “obstructing the police from its duties”.
Docta Kay was taken to the police headquarters where his statement was taken and later granted bail.
Radio Ada vandalization by 10 armed macho men (Thursday, January 13, 2022):
In the early hours of Thursday, January 13, 2022, a community radio station at Ada Foah, in the Greater Accra Region, was ransacked by some masked, heavily-built men.
By the time the police got to the place however, the report by classfmonline.com said, the suspects had already bolted, leaving one person injured and properties destroyed.
The following are the details GhanaWeb gathered on the incident:
- The name of the radio station is Radio Ada, a community not-for-profit FM station at Ada Foah in the Greater Accra Region
- The raid followed persistent warnings to the station by some chiefs in the area, to stop their broadcasts on a project being spearheaded by businessman, Dr. Daniel Mckorley (McDan), which involves the Songhor salt lagoon
- The ransacking of its on-air studio was without provocation
- The thugs, believed to have ransacked the station numbered about 10
- The ransacking, according to some staff of the station, happened around late morning (11:30 am to be precise)
- A staff called Ajawutor Korle was manhandled before the suspects forced their way into the live studio
- The suspects broke down the door of the studio
- The studio console was dismantled
- Ajawutor Korle has been taken to the hospital for medical attention after an official report was lodged with the police by the radio station
- The accountant of the station, Raphael Ameho said the thugs kept asking of one Noah.
Owusu Bempah storms radio station with thugs in search of Mugabe (Friday, March 15, 2019):
One of the pastors popularly-known not only for his spirituality, but for a number of controversial things, Rev. Isaac Owusu Bempah, stormed the premises of East Legon-based Radio XYZ, in Rambo style, looking for the late afternoon political talk show host, Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe.
The incident, which happened on Friday, March 15, 2019, as reported my mynewsgh.com, was after the man of God visited the station with some heavily-built men, some of whom are alleged to be members of the National Security.
The operatives, it gathered, threatened to attack Mugabe Maase who has been criticizing the controversial pastor for some days over his revelations that former president John Dramani Mahama was allegedly planning to kill some top officials of the government, including Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
“When he arrived at the premises, he threatened to shoot anyone who would distract him. Where is Mugabe? He thinks he is powerful, eh?” a terrified staff said, indicating that the controversial televangelist threatened to “finish” him.
One of the eyewitnesses said “the guys he came with nearly shot in the air. One lady who tried filming the act got her phone ceased.”
This was not the first time Owusu Bempah has had issues with journalists in Accra. A few months earlier, he had a confrontation with a presenter at Accra-based Hot FM where he destroyed a laptop computer of a staff of the company.
What initially started as a civil discussion later turned out to be chaotic with the man of God destroying some studio equipment while shouting on top of his voice, demanding to meet one Evangelist Dominic who is said to have made denigrating comments about him.
In the ensuing melee, he described the host of the programme, Justice Kwaku Annan, as Satan for asking him questions about his inability to pray for people to collapse.
“I came here for a purpose, I did not come here to pray so that you will collapse or anything like it You are Satan, that is what you are doing. The guy you brought here who said I am not from God is the person I am looking for. I want to meet him and you are dwelling on irrelevant matters why? I have been in ministry for so long. You cannot deliberately go and bring someone to come and run me down”, he said in anger.
Fmr NDC communication officer attacks Dagbon FM presenter (May 3, 2023):
A former Deputy Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Northern Region, Iddrisu Hardi Pagazaa, and another person, allegedly attacked a radio presenter, Abubakari Sadiq, of Dagbon FM, in Tamale.
The reason behind the attack was that the presenter had spoken negatively about the former officer on live radio.
The attackers verbally assaulted and forcibly pulled the presenter out of the studio, as seen in a viral video that circulated online.
The incident coincidentally happened on May 3, 2023, which is World Press Freedom Day.