Police officer who led assault on Ghanaian Times reporters identified


The police officer said to have used his elbow and fist to punch the tummy of the Ghanaian Times journalist, Raissa Sambou a nursing mother who gave birth in December through surgery (cesarean) and was rushed to the emergency unit of the Ridge Hospital after she collapsed, has been identified as Sergeant Ebenezer Asiedu of the Accra SWAT Unit.

Sergeant Ebenezer Asiedu is said to have carelessly used his unregistered motorbike to hit a vehicle belonging to the Ghanaian Times near the Kinbu Traffic Light in Accra on Thursday after allegedly jumping traffic.

The front bumper and side mirror of the Nissan vehicle was broken as a result of that.

The Police Administration has explained it has instituted an investigation into the reported case of assault and motor traffic accident which involved the police officer and the journalists from Ghanaian Times newspaper on Thursday March 14, 2019.

Three journalists from the Ghanaian Times who were on their way for the day’s assignment were Thursday morning assaulted by about ten police officers at Kinbu in Accra Central.

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The assault followed the traffic offence.

About 10 police officers who chanced on the exchanges after the accident and were not happy that the journalists had tried to record (video) the accident and the ensuing exchanges between their driver and the police motor rider, pounced on the journalists and physically assaulted them.

Mr Malik Sullemana, a court reporter, Mrs Raissa Sambou, a general reporter and Mr Salifu Abdul Rahman, an assistant editor, felt the full effect of the brute force used by the police officers, leading to two of them being sent to the hospital to receive medical attention.

Mrs Sambou, a nursing mother who recently gave birth through surgery (cesarean) was rushed to the emergency unit of the Ridge Hospital, while Sullemana, who received a chunk of the assault was locked up at the Ministries Police Station, but was later released.

Police statement

In a statement signed and issued by ACP David Eklu, Director General of Police Public Affairs, the police said preliminary information gathered does not suggest the journalists were targeted because of their profession but it was a traffic offence which resulted in a scuffle between the journalists and the police officers.

It said immediately the Director-General heard about the incident, he worked with the Editor of the Ghanaian Times newspaper to ensure that the journalists received medical attention.

“As at today Friday, March 15, 2019, the Police officer has been identified and statement taken from him at the Ministries Police Station. Other witnesses have also given statements whilst efforts are being made to take statement from the journalists,” it added.

It said in addition, a report of the motor traffic accident case has also been reported at the Ministries Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD).

“The Police Administration assures the public, especially the media, that it has taken note of the comments expressed on this case and other cases where journalists are alleged to have been attacked by Police officers thus causing needless friction between the Police and the journalists.”

“In view of these concerns, the Police is collaborating with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), National Media Commission (NMC) and other media partners to develop pragmatic framework to ensure the safety and improve working relations between the Police and the media.”.

It added that an update on the progress of investigations will be communicated.

Background

Malik Sulemana and Raissa Sambou were physically brutalised for engaging an officer who had jumped traffic and broken the bumper, mirror and windscreen of the Nissan saloon car they were travelling on.

Raissa, who is a nursing mother, had to be rushed to the Greater Accra Regional (Ridge) Hospital after going unconscious as she was elbowed and punched in the tummy by one of the raging policemen.

Malik, who was thrown into a police cell for close to four hours at the Ministries Police Station, received medical attention later at the Cocoa Clinic.

A Senior Assistant Editor, Salifu Abdul Rahman, was also heckled by the men in uniform with threats to confiscate his bag and phone.

Narrating his ordeal, Malik said a policeman riding on an unregistered motorbike jumped traffic and hit the New Times Corporation vehicle at the Kinbu road and sped off.

He said a pillion motor rider who was just behind the policeman and saw what happened tried to stop him, but the policeman rode on.

When the Times driver chased and managed to block the policeman around Kinbu Traffic Light junction, he said he got off the vehicle and started videotaping which the policeman detested and attempted to snatch his phone.

Angered by the development, Malik said the policeman punched his face resulting in blood gushing out through his nostril.

Other policemen and a soldier in uniform joined in pushing, kicking, slapping punching, insulting and headbutting him, he added.

During the melee, he said his phone was taken on the blind side of the policemen by Raissa and handed over to the driver.

After searching for the phone without success, he said he was handcuffed and bundled into a police vehicle and sent to Ministries Police Station.

“They ignored my plea to them to send me to hospital for medical attention. While lying almost motionless in the police cell, they brought me out and dragged me on the staircase to an office on the second floor. They dragged me back into the cell and urged the inmates to beat me up when I insisted to write my statement only in the presence of my lawyer,” he narrated.

While in the cell, he said the policemen boasted that “journalists only make noise when they are assaulted and that this one too shall pass”.

Malik said his pain reached an excruciating level when one policeman at the counter who goes by the name S. Nukunu, hit him on the back several times.

He said he was brought out of the cell and issued a police medical form after the Editor of Ghanaian Times, Mr David Agbenu and News Editor, Matthew Ayinne Ayoo went to the police station in the company of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) David Eklu, Director of Public Affairs, Ghana Police Service and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Effia Tenge, Greater Accra Police Public Relations Officer.

Confirming the narration by Malik, Mr Rahman said the policemen were unruly and were determined to assault the journalists despite pleas from members of the public to stop it.

He noted that he was compelled to rush Raissa to the hospital to avoid any unfortunate consequence.

A motor rider who witnessed the incident, Xornam Jiagge, corroborated Malik’s account of the incident adding that the military man, who was not part of the police team, only joined the men to beat the journalists because he thought the police were under attack.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has condemned the assault and called on the Police Administration to undertake swift investigations into the incident and, for once, punish the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

‎A statement signed and issued in Accra on Thursday by Affail Monney, President of GJA, described the assault as barbaric in an era of rule of law when the police were supposed to be law enforcers rather than lawbreakers.

“We call on the Police Administration to find and punish the perpetrators of this dastardly act to serve as a deterrent to others and redeem the image of the Ghana Police Service from the shameful tag of a brutish institution. This incident must not be added to the list of unresolved cases of assault against journalists by police officers. This culture of impunity must end now!” it added.

The statement said the GJA would not relent in its efforts to seek justice for all journalists who have been assaulted by police officers in the past and urged all well-meaning Ghanaians to join in the condemnation of the barbaric conduct by the police.

Source: Graphic Online

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