The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) is demanding the military to investigate and punish two of its officers cited in two incidents of assaults on journalists.
According to the association, the actions of the soldiers were unwarranted, arbitrary and barbaric.
It challenged the Military Authorities to redeem the image of the Armed Forces by fishing out the culprits for sanction in the light of the damage they have caused by the their unprofessional conduct.
The GJA, in a statement, condemned the assaults on the two journalists in the line of duty in separate incidents in the Greater Accra Region and in the Ashanti Region.
The first incident happened at Olebu in the Ga Central Municipality in the Greater Accra Region on Good Friday, and involved a TV Africa reporter, Samuel Adobah, who had gone to cover a fire outbreak around 10:30am on that fateful day.
Upon arrival he realized the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) had not arrived yet so he called a another reporter at Adom FM to make an announcement on air to the GNFS for help.
According to the reporter, 15 minutes after calling his colleague at Adom FM, personnel of the GNFS arrived to put out the fire and he decided to video tape it.
Five soldiers, he said, arrived on the scene to disperse the crowd in line with the President’s lockdown directives and one approached him, so he identified himself as a journalist by showing his ID card.
According to him, the soldier left and he continued filming but a few minutes later, another soldier sneaked up on from behind and without provocation, sent him sprawling on the ground with a nasty slap.
The soldier followed up with several kicks while he was still on the ground, trampled his mobile and crashed it.
Samuel Adobah said after the assault, his assailant, who he identified as Damfour, and the other military officers jumped into their ‘Operation Calm Life’ branded vehicle with registration number 49 GA 68 and sped off.
He later reported the matter to the Anyaa Police Station and is currently seeking medical treatment, having suffered bodily harm from the assault.
The second incident, which occurred at Akrem in the Asokore Mampong Municipality in the Ashanti Region, involved a correspondent of Deutsche Welle, Yussif Abdul Ganiyu, who was assaulted by a military officer on April 5, 2020.
While conducting an interview outside St Patrick Hotel, Yussif Abdul Ganiyu was assaulted by the military officer identified as 2nd Lt Betrot Ampoma, for no just reason.
The GJA described the assaults on journalists performing their duties as highly unprofessional, brutish, barbaric and a blot on the image of a military institution held in high esteem in peacekeeping operations across the world.
“The GJA has already been in touch with the Military Authorities who have given assurance to deal with the matter.”
“We also call on the police to investigate the two cases expeditiously to bring the culprits to face the full rigors of the law.”
“It is unfortunate that the latest incident happened barely 24 hours after the President had delivered his broadcast to the nation on COVID-19 Update 6 in which he called on the security agencies enforcing the law on lockdown to refrain from human rights abuses, ” the statement said.
The Association appealed to the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, to denounce the unprofessional conduct of the soldiers and ensure that they are duly sanctioned.
The GJA indicated it is exploring legal options to find justice for the two, stressing that in a democratic dispensation, the rule of law must prevail and be upheld at all times over the rule of brute.
Therefore, under no circumstances must the latter be countenanced.
“In as much as we appreciate the role of the security agencies enforcing the law, particularly the lockdown directives by the President, enforcing the law in its breach is rather ridiculous,” the GJA said.
It warned there are better and more civil ways to enforce the law on lockdown than the resort to brute.