The National Media Commission (NMC), has begun its investigations into the assault on Citi FM journalist Caleb Kudah, the harassment of another journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo, and the subsequent invasion of the media organization by National Security operatives.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, George Sarpong, made this known in an interview with journalists in Accra on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
He said the Commission has received a petition from the Accra-based radio and TV station, which has been forwarded to the National Security Ministry for their reaction in honour of the principle of natural justice.
“We have submitted the petition to the National Security Ministry for their comment, and we have indicated the timeline, and we expect that they will provide us with their response before 24th of this month. After that, we will meet with the parties on the 26th of May for the hearing. Our hope is that in that meeting, we should be able to conclude with the issues involved,” he noted.
This comes at the back of an ongoing internal investigation by the National Security Ministry itself.
In a statement released on May 13, 2021, and signed by its Chief Director, Lt. Col. Ababio Serebour (Rtd), the intelligence-gathering organization took note of the allegations of brutalities against the journalist and commenced investigations into them.
Responding to a question about whether the ongoing investigations at the National Security Ministry could affect the Commission’s investigations, Mr. Sarpong said the NMC’s investigation is independent of that of the National Security Ministry, and that the Commission is bent on assessing the issue separately and provide a way forward.
He further assured journalists of the Commission’s support through the newly created office of the Coordinated Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists to investigate, validate and take the necessary steps on assaults of journalists.
He called for support for the office, emphasizing that the office will do all it can to guarantee the safety of journalists in the country.
“We want every journalist in this country to see this as a game-changer once the constitution guarantees them the rights to do their work, and offers them constitutional protection. This is the first time that we have been able to set up a mechanism that achieves that purpose of protecting the safety of journalists”.
“So I want all of us to see the novelty of it, and to rally behind the idea because ultimately, our collective safety as journalists will depend on how well we all work together to make the mechanism work,” he added.
Mr. Caleb Kudah was arrested at the National Security Ministry on Tuesday for filming abandoned MASLOC vehicles parked at the premises of the Ministry.
He was at the Ministry to verify a claim by an official of MASLOC that all the cars had been given out.
This was after Caleb Kudah had complained about the wastage of public funds on social media.
A team of heavily-armed SWAT police officers subsequently were dispatched to arrest Citi News‘ Zoe Abu-Baidoo Addo at the premises of Citi FM/Citi TV.
This is because Caleb had forwarded some of the footage he captured to Zoe via WhatsApp.
Mr. Caleb Kudah in an interview with Bernard Avle on The Point Of View on Citi TV indicated that he was slapped several times by the security officers.
About 15 organizations including civil society groups and political parties, have condemned the incident and backed calls for investigations, whiles calling for reforms in the national security setup.
The National Security Ministry says it has initiated a probe into the case.