Consulting Editor of Telegraph Ghana, Ralph Apetorgbor, has reportedly faced physical aggression, verbal abuse, and obstruction from the Sowutuom Police while covering the District Assembly inauguration ceremony at the Ga Central Municipal Assembly.

The incident, which occurred on Monday, February 12, 2024, has sparked outrage and brought attention to the safety of journalists fulfilling their duties, particularly during an election year.

The police officers accused Apetorgbor of filming the proceedings, highlighting the critical role of press freedom in maintaining transparency and accountability in a democratic society.

Eyewitnesses recounted how Apetorgbor was documenting the events when approached by police officers who attempted to confiscate his camera. Despite his refusal, they insisted on viewing the images he had captured.

Speaking to the press, Apetorgbor explained that he was covering the PM election following the swearing-in of new assembly members at the assembly’s forecourt when two officers approached him, demanding to see the photos on his camera. Despite his refusal to comply, one officer (Chief Inspector Aikins) attempted to seize his camera, which Apetorgbor resisted, ultimately leaving it when a crowd gathered nearby.

“The police man asked me to bring my camera so that he will see the pictures and videos I have taken. I said no and I resisted releasing my camera to him and he threatened to forcedly damage it at the count of five which I again ignored and told him they are the officers eroding the good work of the IGP, Dr. George Dampare. He held my camera but was quick to leave it when he saw the crowd of spectators approaching” he said.

Apetorgbor further described how, as the district electoral commissioner relocated to the assembly conference room to conduct election of the presiding member (PM), he was obstructed by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Richard Kungu and Chief Inspector Aikins, who instructed a plainclothes junior officer to remove him from the premises while subjecting him to verbal abuse and physically pushed him outside.

He highlighted the unprofessional conduct of the Sowutuom police officers, which hindered his ability to report on the conference room proceedings, despite other journalists being permitted entry.

Apetorgbor asserted that he was physically manhandled and subjected to verbal assault while fulfilling his professional obligations.

Following the conclusion of the election and swearing-in ceremony, Apetorgbor alleged that ASP Kungu signalled for him to approach, only to unleash a barrage of insults and threats aided by Inspector Aikins. Inspector Aikins went as far as threatening to have the junior officer arrest and assault Apetorgbor should he cross their path again, exemplifying a hostile attitude towards journalists.

Apetorgbor recounted that Chief Inspector Aikins uttered, “We will finish you these journalists loitering around in the country before you people would learn lesson. Dampare is pampering you vultures which is why you people are throwing yourselves about in the country interfering in people’s matter’

‘I enjoy it when you people [journalists] are attack and you are lucky you were not beaten by the people, but if it happen I will be there and be quiet. And when the people are finish with you, then I will you teach you a bitter lesson afterwards.”

“ASP Kungo also responded that I have no right to report trained police officers to a superior officer and they careless,” the journalist indicated.

Apetorgbor expressed his intention to file a formal complaint against the officers for their allegedly threatening him, obstructing his ability to fulfil his professional duties, and verbally assaulting him while he was covering the assembly’s events.

As of now, authorities in Sowutuom police command have yet to address the incident, but mounting pressure calls for prompt action to ensure accountability and prevent similar attacks on journalists in the future.

Source: Contributor 

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