Caleb Kudah Assault: Overhaul National Security – Prof Aning
Security Analyst Professor Kwesi Aning has called for reforms at the National Security Ministry following the assault on Citi FM journalist Caleb Kudah.
The Ministry of National Security has withdrawn four operatives over the incident.
Although Professor Aning has welcomed the decision, he believes there is a need for a complete overhaul of the ministry.
“We need to look at the standard operating procedures. How they have been trained to treat people and how they are even supervised. These need to be critically looked at. Their recruitment, training and mentorship are equally important in this regard.
“In effect, 95% more work needs to be done. If the officers flouted the law, then they should not just be taken to their parent institution. What kind of punishment will be meted out to them at their parent institution? We are not sure,” he stressed.
He called for a more transparent approach in dealing with the said officers, including Lieutenant Colonel Frank Agyeman.
Professor Aning referred to the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency by-election violence, where the government failed to apply the recommendations of the Emile Short Commission who were tasked to investigate the issue.
As part of the recommendations, some officers should have been relieved of their positions, but the directive by the commission was ignored.
“The non-implementation of the Short commission [report] sends a rather disturbing signal that there are people who can act illegally and not be punished by law. Keeping Azugu [DSP Samuel Azugu] in office is a direct slap in the face,” he lamented.
READ: Full details of recommendations made by Emile Short Commission
Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency by-election violence
Ghana’s electoral body organised a by-election for the constituency following the death of the Member of Parliament, Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko, on November 21, 2018.
The by-election was slated for January 31, 2019. An hour into the elections, a chaotic scene was witnessed at the La Bawalashie Presbyterian
School Polling Station.
Some armed men clothed in National Security apparel stormed the polling station and attacked some polling agents believed to be with the opposition NDC.
Eighteen people suffered gunshot wounds and injuries in the ensued
attack, including Ningo-Prampram MP Sam George.
The genesis of the problem
On May 11, 2021, national security operatives arrested Citi FM journalist Caleb Kudah for filming within the premises of a national security facility designated as a restricted security zone.
Following the arrest, about seven armed national security personnel in pickup trucks invaded Accra-based Citi FM premises to arrest Zoe Abu-Baidoo, a journalist with the Accra-based media organisation with whom Caleb had shared the said video.
The two were then escorted to the National Security office for interrogation, after which they were released.
However, Caleb explained that he was assaulted mercilessly by several men wielding guns while he was handcuffed.
“They seized my phone and pushed me, and I sat on the chair. They [National Security operatives] slapped me from the back. I was trying to appeal to them that they had beaten me enough, but they were just slapping me from the back. I’ll be talking to another one, and someone will just come and slap me from the back,” Caleb narrated in the aftermath of the incident.
Reactions after the alleged assault
Several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and a section of Ghanaians condemned the actions of the security men.
It is an embarrassment for Ghana to project itself this way to the world, according to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) said.
Arresting a journalist and pursuing another with seven heavily armed security officers is a classic feature of a dictatorship, it added.
The MFWA “cannot see how the filming by a journalist of the National Security Ministry building, which is a public institution accessible to the public, can constitute a national security breach”.
“Indeed, journalists have the right to film even private property when it is the scene of the activity or is associated with an event that is of public interest to publicise”.
“Over the years, we have seen a number of incidents in which security officers have assaulted or arrested journalists for filming their operations conducted in public. This is a blatant abuse of authority and must be checked,” the MFWA noted.
Pressure group, OccupyGhana believed that an attempted murder charge would be appropriate for national security operatives found to have assaulted Citi FM journalists.
Even though the National Security commenced an investigation, OccupyGhana did not think they would conduct a fair probe.
The group, who condemned the alleged brutalisation in a statement, emphasised the need for a separate body other than the National Security to investigate the matter.
“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 statement said.
It added that the persons found culpable for such “animalistic and demonic behaviour” must be made to face the full rigours of the law.
“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,” it further directed.