Pressure group, OccupyGhana, has been jolted from their seeming slumber by allegations that National Security operatives on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, tortured Citi FM/Citi TV journalist Caleb Kudah.
Caleb was detained for several hours for filming at the headquarters of the National Security agency.
After his release hours later, he explained that he was manhandled by both plainclothes and uniformed police and military personnel of the agency for entering the security installation without permission.
“They were bent on dealing with me because then they took me to a small post…by this time a plainclothes gentleman had come in and said ‘these are people causing problems for us. Already there is tension in the system…” Caleb Kudah spoke about his experience for the first time on Citi TV’s Point of View on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
He said even after showing the security operatives his Citi FM/Citi TV ID, they would not spare him.
“One of them said ‘take his statement’. They pushed me into a chair. They slapped me from the back…you will be talking to one of them and someone will just slap you from the back and you feel dizzy at once,” he told the host of Point of View, Bernard Avle.
In a strongly-worded statement issued on Friday, OccupyGhana, which has for some time now remained silent on a myriad of headline-grabbing issues, said it was appalled by the allegations.
“The allegations outline a bestial culture of impunity, an animalistic disregard for basic human rights, and a demonic manifestation of tendencies that have no place even in a holocaust camp. We are appalled and disgusted, and when proven true by an independent body, we demand that the perpetrators so named be charged with nothing less than the crime of attempted murder, tried, convicted, jailed, and dismissed from the employment of the government without any benefits,” the group said.
Read the full statement below.
OccupyGhana has taken notice of the allegations of assault by National Security operatives on a journalist of Citi FM and Citi TV, Mr. Caleb Kudah. News reports and the victim’s testimony allege extra-judicial punishment from National Security operatives including slaps from behind, kicks from booted feet to his groin, molestation and brutalisation of his person while he was handcuffed and could not defend himself.
We have also seen footage alleging a raid of Citi FM’s and Citi TV’s premises by operatives purported to be from the National Security Ministry, to pick up another journalist, Zoe Abu-Baidoo who details how she was ordered to delete photos and videos on her own phone under intimidation by a person identified by both journalists as a Lt-Col Agyeman and an accomplice such as one Chief Inspector Ampadu.
We also take notice that the female journalist was not harmed physically, but the gentleman was “worked over” by the operatives for more than five hours. In no case, we further notice, was any lawyer present for either journalist.
We have also seen a letter purported to originate from the National Security Ministry and signed by its Chief Director Lt-Col Ababio Serebour (Rtd) indicating the Ministry’s awareness of the allegations and rather unhelpfully claiming without any timelines that disrespect the intelligence of Ghanaians, the Ministry’s willingness to investigate the allegations and revert. We also notice the nonchalance in verbiage and the non-subtle attempt of the Chief Director of the Ministry to brand the serious allegations and the Guantanamo Bay-style assaults as “interrogation” that clearly did not respect the right of the person to a lawyer.
It goes without saying that we in OccupyGhana are troubled by these developments, and it is with an iron will that we maintain civil language towards the National Security Ministry in issuing his press release. These allegations, in their very nature, have no place in a civilized democracy, a 29-year-old democratic experiment, and under a republican constitution that touts the rule of law.
The allegations outline a bestial culture of impunity, an animalistic disregard for basic human rights, and a demonic manifestation of tendencies that have no place even in a holocaust camp. We are appalled and disgusted, and when proven true by an independent body, we demand that the perpetrators so named be charged with nothing less than the crime of attempted murder, tried, convicted, jailed, and dismissed from the employment of the government without any benefits.
Consequently, we ask the following questions:
1. Was Mr. Caleb Kudah, at any point during his accosting by the National Security operatives, informed of what specific Ghanaian law he had breached by his mobile phone documentation of the issue or object that had piqued his journalistic interest?
2. Was the journalist read his rights at any point during Lt-Col Serebour’s (Rtd) description of an interrogation?
3. Under what law did National Security operatives coerce both journalists into deleting materials on their personal mobile telephony devices?
4. The Chief Director of the Ministry of National Security alluded to some “No Photography” rules at restricted security zones. Can he be kind enough to refer us to what law his description of such rules is grounded in?
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.
The allegations of brutalities against journalists are not new, but we are disturbed that the assaults on members of the media keep getting bolder and bolder, and the impunity is assuming hellish proportions. This must stop immediately. If this is what happens to journalists, then we shudder to think of what is happening to other voiceless Ghanaians in the quiet at the hands of security operatives.
Even more, concerning for us is the knowledge that Mr. Kudah was documenting vehicles acquired by Government and for which it had been claimed, had been disposed of and not left to rot as at least two investigative journalists had uncovered over the past two or so years. If that was the case, then his cause was just.
That his quest to hold government accountable for tax-payer expenses resulted in his alleged brutalization sickens us immeasurably. Once independent investigations confirm this terrible maltreatment of Mr. Kudah, the government must understand the depths of our disgust with its press freedom credentials if any of the perpetrators of these heinous allegations are not made to face the full rigours of the law.
We reiterate that we fully support members of the media in the discharge of their lawful duties. We remind the government that it is unpardonable treachery to the citizens when people who are hired with citizens’ monies, trained with citizens’ monies, paid with citizens’ monies, clothed with citizens’ monies, fed with citizens’ monies, and (painfully) equipped and armed with citizens’ monies, would turn round and use those arms to oppress the citizens.
And the worst insult to the citizens would be if the perpetrators are successfully sued in court; then citizens’ monies would be used to pay the damages awarded. We clearly have learned nothing from the Ayawaso West Woguon incidents, and we strongly demand that government takes immediate and firm steps to end this despicable anti-democratic backslide.
Yours, for God and Country.